This is the first installment of a series of #content meant to illuminate the first study abroad trip for UConn student Sten Spinella.
I’m in Italy, my first time abroad, yet I’m sitting at a desk in my apartment. I can say it’s because I’m waiting for my roommates, but I don’t really know what I’m waiting for. Maybe for my beautiful girlfriend to swoop in and save me from the wretched man I was (a liar) or the pathetic one I’ve become (shy and afraid). Maybe to make friends to lead me around Firenze, this wonderful city, and believe me, from what I’ve seen I’m in awe, but here I am, at this desk, writing.
It’s just like me to be writing when I should be doing something else, and doing something else when I should be writing. I am ill prepared for this trip and know very little Italian. I also don’t know how to read a map. It’s up to me to force myself to go to museums and – wait, no – I have it all wrong. The issue is not that I’m afraid in general, but that I’m afraid to be alone. I need to have friends surrounding me or a significant other coddling me in order to feel validated. These six weeks may be meant for loneliness, for me to be okay with being by myself, to see myself as good company. Or perhaps I will find myself getting drunk with people I barely know and spending money I hardly have.
Should I be at home trying to write for the Hartford Courant? (They take every student journalist who has ever written a lede.) Probably. Should I be waiting tables, putting money away on top of the money I already saved in anticipation of my inevitable failure or my need to move out of my home before age 30? Yes. But I am in Florence spending almost all the money I’ve made. My hope is that the city takes me over. My hope is that I have a “sick time” and that I “kill it” and have “insane stories” to tell to the cooks sweating over the hot Blue Oar restaurant stove back home. My hope is that I make this worth every penny and that it helps me realize what it is I want to do, or rather, how to do what it is I want to do.
Thus far, this trip is made up of almost all white people. Guessing at the reasons for this can only lead to reinforcing stereotypes.
What is it I want out of this trip? What is my distinctly American mission statement? I think this was just something I had to do. I had to go outside of the country I inhabited for 21 years. I had to see something different. Minor changes to daily life don’t do it for me anymore. And I don’t want to fall into the fallacy of another country’s, another setting’s, saving grace – I just want to see if it’s really a fallacy.