Fall 2010 Matthew Flocco Temple Rome

Gli occhi

There were many things I expected to experience while studying abroad in Rome. Walking to the Fontana di Trevi, taking pictures of the Anfiteatro Colosseo (Colosseum), buying cheap wine, meeting Italians, speaking in Italian…etc. Some touristy, some not. One thing I did not expect, especially within the first day, was to hold back tears. Yes tears. Let it be known that I teared up within the first 48 ore (hours) of my 4 mesi (month) experience. I did not tear up once, I did not tear up twice. I teared up three times. Now before we judge and go on a tangent about how m

There were many things I expected to experience while studying abroad in Rome. Walking to the Fontana di Trevi, taking pictures of the Anfiteatro Colosseo (Colosseum), buying cheap wine, meeting Italians, speaking in Italian…etc. Some touristy some not. One thing I did not expect, especially within the first day, was to hold back tears. Yes tears. Let it be known that within the first 48 ore (hours) of my 4 mesi (month) experience. I did not tear up once, I did not tear up twice. I teared up three times. Now before you judge and cause me to go on a counter-judgmental tangent about gender expectations, let me explain why how and when.

The first time was after the flight from Philadelphia to Roma. I tried sleeping on the flight, but the fact that I tried falling asleep at what was technically 8:30 PM on the East Coast (when I normally doze off at 2:00 in the morning), was not working for me. I eventually got an hour or two in, interrupted of course by a crying baby and the bathroom behind my head that “dinged” everytime the door opened. We arrived 8:30 in the morning in Italia (2:30 AM Philly), and then took a long drive with huge amounts of bags from the airport to the Residence. Then I saw my room…which did not make me cry but came very close. Three of us in a tiny room. Luckily I know both my roommates (though we didn’t plan that), so at least that’s good. And the shower is amazing. I also came very close to tearing up when I saw how much bigger the other rooms were. But the time I actually did tear up was sometime in the afternoon, when I was jet-lagged and disoriented. I was unpacking and my eyes just starting watering like no other. I was just unbelievably tired.

The second time I teared up was last night before I went to bed. Long story short, I’ve had minor surgery on my lower back numerous times, and sometimes after I walk for a while it becomes extremely uncomfortable. I told my doctor and myself that I didn’t want that to inhibit my trip. Well, I felt like it did last night. The Residence Medaglie d’Oro (where I live) is located about 40 minutes away from the Villa Caproni (Temple Rome’s campus). We walked the entire way. With every step I took last night, I got more and more discomfort. I grew more and more frustrated because I was focusing on the pain I was having rather than the citta bella (beautiful city) around me. I was focusing more on trying to distract myself from the pain rather than enjoying my time with the friends I had just met. By the time we got to the campus for the pizza party, I was so upset and angry at the whole thing. Thank God they gave us a free bus pass back to the residence. I got more upset there because the internet wasn’t working and I really wanted to contact my family. I also just really wanted to get on Facebook to make me feel better, even if it was just for a few minutes. Not so much to talk to friends but to have something a little more familiar in an unfamiliar place. I held back tears here because I didn’t want my pain to keep me from walking around. I got more upset when I thought about the money I was spending because I thought I’d be walking around and exploring the city without worrying about the pain and discomfort from the surgery, let alone the lifetime experience I was supposed to be having. Then I took a hot shower (sometimes that helps the pain), and then got into bed. Woke up this morning fully rested, stopped to get a cornetto and mele (a kind of pastry and an apple), and went to orientation.

That’s where I teared up for the third time. Once again, though usually an optimistic person, I was not in the best of moods because I was still in pain. After Dean Strohmen gave words of welcome and went over Academics, Gianni (one of our program directors) took the mic and told us about our experiences. He talked about what it was going to be like here for us. He talked about how some of us might feel homesick already. He talked about how strange it can all be. Then he said an extremely simple phrase…

“It’s going to be ok.”

I got teary eyed through the rest of it I teared up when he talked about the places we would see, the things we would do. I teared up when he told us that when we go to the piazza, we’d meet Italian students that wanted to meet with us. This had always been one of my chief concerns, that I’d want to meet Italians and talk to them but they wouldn’t want to do the same. I teared up because despite pain and discomfort, the jet lag, missing everyone at home, being in a new country, I knew this was going to be amazing, and that everything was going to be ok.

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