Through my experiences in Italy, I discovered a side of myself I never knew was there. This trip was about finding my own voice, not being so uptight and worried all the time, and becoming more confident in myself . Throughout my blogs, there has been a resonating theme of releasing my fears and worries and letting what will be, will be. With each blog, I noticed a pattern of myself becoming a little more and more relaxed.
I have learned about the importance of communication, even if communication with words in a foreign country is difficult. I have learned to stop and enjoy life because each and every moment is precious. Most importantly, this journey has been about a process of self-discovery that I know will continue well into my life for many years to come.
This wild journey of self-discovery began the very minute I set foot in Rome at the Fiumicino airport. The first day of our Cultural Identity class, we were asked to describe one of our most memorable experiences, mine was landing in Rome and managing to get to Urbino on my very own. Each of the elements that we were asked to describe directly related to my experience, including uncertainty avoidance, a reinvention of myself in believing that people are inherently good, and the fact that it helped me learn about my assertiveness.
My first blog, “Letting Go,” explains the difficult beginning of my journey. That day I conquered some of my biggest fears, including a fear of being alone and a fear of relying on public transportation, with the help of the connections I made with a few people.
A quote from the article In painting the white face red: Intercultural Contact Presented Through Poetic Ethnography, by Maria Cristina Gonzalez said, “Sometimes the boundaries we have established for our own identities are rigid and impermeable, not allowing for the changes that intercultural contact invites.” When I stepped on the train to Pesaro, I let my barriers down and met one of the sweetest, nicest girls I know to this day. An Italian girl named Laura Pierfelici offered to let me stay at her home and assured that I would be okay. Essentially strangers five hours earlier, after our long journey from Rome to Pesaro, I gave Laura two of the biggest hugs I have ever given anyone out of appreciation that came from my heart before we went our separate ways.
I have learned that life is about “rich points,” as indicated in the Hall article, How is Culture Related to Our Identities. I have experienced so many “rich moments” while in Italy. Moments that involve laughter and fun, moments of mis-understanding and resolve, of faith, and of food. Some of the richest moments I have experienced here have been through a struggle to communicate and realizing the power of body language.“Smiles, laughter, and hugs, these are the components of humankind’s universal language,” I said in one of my blogs. This rich moment is described in my blog entitled Simple Words. Simple words like ciao (hello), or pace (peace) during Mass, carry huge significance in our interactions with other people from different cultures.
Two of my blogs Free Your Stress and No Woman No Cry talk about the importance of religious rich moments. Through religion I was able to connect with my Italian Catholic background in Italy. I always felt welcomed in the churches I visited here and a sense of home or belonging.
The Addiction was about a rich moment that I experienced nearly every day during my 30 days in Italy. Food brings everyone closer together in the Italian culture and gelato is one of those decadent treats that has the power to bring together people of any age and any culture.
As I read my very first blog once again, I said, “This was the now or never where I had to take my journey into my own hands, an uncertain fate, my own adventure.” This trip has been the experience of a lifetime. It has made a huge change and difference in my life because it has helped me become a more confident, less worrisome person overall.