English Journal 7

Marco Polo crossed a variety of borders throughout his journeys afar, and as I reflect on my past two months here in Italy I realize that I, too, have crossed several different types of borders. When I hear the term ‘border’ I naturally (being a science major), think of the obvious dictionary definition of the word. According to Webster’s, a border is “the line that separates one country, state, province, ext. from one another; frontier line.”However, I have stepped beyond my usual way of thinking, and created my own definition of a border. According to me, a border is an at hand limitation which impedes one’s ability to freely, and completely enter into an experience. In terms of physical boarders, I have crossed quite a few, from Rome, Thessaloniki, Venice, Florence, Paris, Subiaco, Sorrento, Pompeii, Madrid, and very shortly, London.  However, the physical borders do not even compare to the psychological ones I have crossed. Physical boarders are clear and easily crossed; with a passport, map, small trolley, and a one and a half liter water bottle I can cross any physical border put forward. Physiological borders, however, are perplexing and difficult to overcome. They require a different kind of strength to cross. The most powerful one I have crossed during this trip was the idea of living in the moment. I have quickly found that two months in Italy comes and goes very quickly, and I have had to deal with the concern of returning to my original, conventional world, filled with traditional classes rather than having beautiful Rome as my daily classroom, studying on Friday nights rather than traveling to different countries, and monotonously serving costumers at a less than genuine Italian restaurant rather than being served delicious authentic Italian styled meals.

I remember having a dream the very first night in Italy; I was back in Ohio, working at Gervasi, being yelled at by my boss and repetitively bussing tables until the wee hours of the morning. From day one I was both consciously and subconsciously concerned with returning to daily life in the States, and this concern has continued throughout my entire trip. I found myself battling this mental border of simply living in the moment, and not thinking about what is to come once I cross the U.S. border. I love my family, and I love my life in the States, however being in Italy has led me to find the beauties and opportunities that exist outside the edges of Ohio. As I said before, physiological borders are the hardest to cross, simply because they are intangible. It has taken me much thought and reflection to cross this powerful border. However, I have ultimately come to the realization that all good things must eventually come to an end. Living in Rome has given me the chance of a life time, and it has completely changed the way I view my future. I am thankful for this opportunity, and even more grateful for the insight it has granted me in my current, and future life. Earlier, I described a border as an “at hand limitation”, I did so because for a very specific reason. Despite a border being a limitation in the present moment, I have learned that it eventually returns as a way to broaden your horizons.

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7 Responses to English Journal 7

  1. dwiddler says:

    I found myself dealing with the same problem. I didn’t know if I should come on this trip and now I am 110% thankful that I am here and living the life abroad. I have come, just as you have, to obtain an appreciation for the world outside the United States. I haven’t exactly have a dreamt of what work would be like when I get back but I have gave it some thought. Before I left for Rome I actually quit my “college job.” You know what I mean; the job that barely gets you through the year. Anyways, it’s kind of ironic that you wrote about going back to work because yesterday I just asked for my job back at the Canton Club and who knows what will happen when I get back. Actually, who cares because were in Italy for nine more days.

  2. sslopek says:

    Alyson, you have crossed an impressive number of borders in a short amount of time, both physical and figurative. I imagine that you will dislike your job even more now that you had the real Italian experience. I hope you haven’t had that dream again since you came here. I agree that the time has been going fast here. We only have a week left of classes now, and it’s going to go just as fast. This has been a very unique opportunity to experience another country, especially with a guide that is extremely knowledgeable with the entire country. I am going to miss the ability to go into Rome and take a bus or train to a completely new place any time I want.

  3. Angela Dancik says:

    I have to start off with that I love the definition you came up with for ‘borders’. While in Rome we learned how to cross and break through physical borders like travelling on international flights and the ever-reliable Italian train system. I agree psychological borders are definitely more difficult to overcome, maybe because each person creates their own borders. Instead of physically helping someone overcome a physical border, each individual is left to figure out a way to mentally conquer their border. Living in the moment was something I also struggled with in the beginning of our trip, I think mainly because it didn’t feel real. It hit me about week 2 that I was in Rome, away from my family and away from the ‘traditional’ way of learning you mentioned. Our lifestyles in Rome is completely different than what we experience at home (trust me, I’m living it as we speak) and you’ll find when you’ve been home for awhile and the reunions are over that you long for that Rome lifestyle.

    “I love my family, and I love my life in the States, however being in Italy has led me to find the beauties and opportunities that exist outside the edges of Ohio.” I really liked that quote you included in your second paragraph, simply because it’s so true! Studying abroad has opened our eyes to possibilities and opportunities we didn’t think existed, and it challenges our comfort zone boundaries even more. Now that you’ve conquered Rome, where will your next adventure take you? I think each of us grew not only independently, but also psychologically as well. Even though all good things must come to an end, like you said, it just opens doors for even better things to come along 🙂

  4. sarahsliman says:

    I really liked the example of ‘border’ that you explained in your personal life. I feel as though my border is almost the inverse of yours, but at the same time it’s exactly the same. I have an issue with living in the moment, but because I am more hesitant on the fact that I am away from home and in an unknown and sometimes scary environment in which I have to be on public transportation (gasp!) and hold my purse as if a man in a mask and a gun is standing right next to me. Okay, slightly exaggerated, but you get my point. I have struggles with living in the moment and not thinking about what I am missing back home, because when I go back home, I know I will regret not being completely focused on staying in the present while I am here. I will miss this atmosphere, I will miss the thrill of the unknown, the endless hours of public transportation–well I probably won’t miss that–but the ability to get myself from A to B without spending an arm and a leg on gas I will miss. I think that living in the moment is a crucial aspect of getting the most out of the Rome experience, and out of every experience in life for that matter. It’s one of the hardest things to do, but its imperative to do in order to live a complete and happy life. Thanks for sharing Alyson!

  5. Alyson, I remember when you were telling a few of us about the dream you had where you were working at Gervasi. After reading about it in your journal, I can see now how important it is to live in the moment and experience every second of each day, even if those seconds aren’t very enjoyable. It seems as though the motto of life is to live in the moment, however I believe that it takes an important experience in life to truly make you practice this motto and see its importance. We have had the opportunity to experience so many amazing opportunities while we have been in Rome. During these opportunities I frequently want to pinch myself to be reminded what I am doing at that moment is actually apart of real life. Even being on the train, even though it has become monotonous traveling, I still can’t help reminding myself that I am on a train in Italy, with Italians, venturing towards our school campus…that is in Italy. This whole trip has felt very surreal for this very reason.

    It is hard to imagine going back to Canton and adjusting to our normal lives. For some people like me, this will feel bittersweet because although I miss my family, I am afraid of what life will be like when I do go back. However, I believe this trip has taught us all a great deal about ourselves, and that no matter what life throws at any of us we are strong enough to persevere.

    I really enjoyed how in you journal you provided your own definition of a border. It was nice to discover what a border meant to you. I especially enjoyed how you stepped outside of your natural scientific thinking and explained a personal struggle that you overcame. I think that living in the moment here in Rome will help us to live in the moment back at home too. Also, I think that living while being in Rome, we have realized that spending so much time on certain things that we don’t enjoy, like terrible jobs, isn’t really worth it. You are a smart and capable woman who could do any job successfully, so go out there and find a job that makes you happy:) I think I may do the same as well.

  6. pizzaguy656 says:

    Alyson, I’m glad I didn’t refer to Webster’s definition because you did such a great job making your own definition of border after explaining the original word. On the physical level of borders I think you did the maximum amount of that. You have been to Spain before Italy, and now in two months you have been so many other places which is awesome. I agree a psychology border is much harder to conquer and I think everyone had that same belief. These two months went by so fast, and before you know it will be back in a basement with no windows or clocks in a three hour class at Walsh. I will be wishing I was back in Castel Gandolfo. That dream you had that first night being Italy is a good connection about how there is more to do outside of Ohio. It will always be my home, but Italy also has opened my eyes to what else is out there in this world. I sure will bring back what I have learned and collected and exercise it some way back in the states. Great journal Alyson!

  7. I agree with you completely! I felt the same way here at first, however it took me a while to realize why. I enjoyed being in Rome, but I didn’t fully enjoy it at first because I was so used to life at home. I was constantly worrying about what was going on there, what all my friends and family were doing and what I was missing out on. At this point in the trip, however, I’ve also crossed the border of realizing how lucky I really am. As you said, there’s so many opportunities out there once you break out of familiarity. I also agree with you about a border being an “at hand limitation” because once you cross that border you truly become part of a much bigger world! Great journal!

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