Posts Tagged ‘Journey’
Today was my second day of a new job in a new city in a (relatively) new country. I have three new roommates, other college students who have just arrived to study at the Umbra Institute in the fall semester in Perugia.
I’ve been living and learning in this Medieval city for more than two months now, and it feels good to turn a new leaf, both in this Italian chapter of my life as well as in my academic and professional career.
Everyday, I have the incredible chance to ride on the open railways through the Umbrian countryside, and I promise you, the trip is a treat each and every time. Even at 6:42 a.m. L’Italia è un paese molto bello, e mi piace vivere in Umbria.
It’s currently 2:36 a.m. in Perugia, so I am going to turn in for the night. A busy day awaits me in the morning in Spoleto.
I will be back soon, though, with tales of my studies atl’Università per Stranieri di Perugia as well as other tales from the summer of 2012. Keep an eye out for a fresh batch of photos via my newly acquired Photobucket account, as well as a new look for the blog.
Ciao for now, e buonanotte a tutti!
I arrived in Italy on Sunday morning. American Airlines flight 1585 landed in Rome around 10:20 a.m. after eight and a half hours above the Atlantic and western Europe.
I lingered at the airport in Rome for about two hours, waiting for the bus to Perugia, where I am now living for the summer. While I sat in the airport, cigarette smoke filling the wide corridors, I fished a pair of shorts of my suitcase and changed out of my sweatpants. It was still the morning, but Rome’s temperature had already risen to 30 degrees Centigrade.
From the restroom, I went to a little cafe in the airport and had a sandwich with prosciutto, tomato and fresh basil. Now that I’ve been here in Perugia for almost two days, I realize how overpriced that sandwich was. It had to be, though, right? I was at Rome’s international airport, after all.
The Sulga bus arrived promptly at 12:30 p.m., and after about 20 people boarded, we began the journey north. After a tonsillitis diagnosis, a two-day sprint to finish preparing for my trip, and an overnight flight that I couldn’t fall asleep on for the life of me, I was exhausted, to say the least. Completely worn out. I fell asleep soon after paying the driver my 22 euro fare. The couple of times that I woke up, I noticed a beautiful landscape all around me. I’ll be here for six months, I told myself. There’s no need to fight to keep my eyes open now. After a convincing argument with my inner photographer, I slept the rest of the way to Perugia.
I arrived and was escorted to my apartment by 5 p.m.
That night, all I wanted to do was sleep, but I only managed 4 hours. Last night, all I wanted to do was sleep. I thought I would be more successful this time. I had a full day of Italian instruction at the university and had dinner prepared by 7:30 p.m. At 8:30, I was laying down, and fell asleep within minutes. Then, I woke up. I felt around the night stand and found my watch. It was almost 2:30 a.m. Fuck, here we go again. Another sleepless night, I thought, angrily dropping my watch and rolling over.
Here I am, five hours later, still awake. I suppose the three-way impromptu google video chat with Matt, Melissa and Kristina back in Boston didn’t help my attempt to fall asleep again. But we laughed, and it was nice to see some friendly faces and to catch up. I gave them a virtual tour of my apartment, and invited them all to come visit me here in Italy.
As the clock ticks towards 8 a.m., I’ll stop my rambling here and head to the university for day two of Italian. Class begins at 8, but not promptly. Nothing is prompt here, and in that way, this place reminds me of Amman.
Ciao, for now.
Note: this post was written on June 6, as I was wrapping up the reporting of my second story.
Everyone I meet here, I expect to become a source, one way or another. Whether they can directly help me with a comment for a story or put me in touch with another person who can, everyone eventually becomes a source, to some degree. It’s the first time I have really felt like a journalist in that sense.
I’m pretty friendly, and outgoing, but people I meet at home in the states, I don’t perceive them in this way. Maybe they’ll become friends of mine, and I’ll share a beer with one or watch a movie or something of that sort, but I rarely perceive people back home to be sources. Maybe that’s a mistake. Maybe there’s a reason though; in the states, I don’t have steady work. I don’t write news stories on a regular basis. Here in Jordan, both last year and now, I’m
always constantly thinking about my stories. There are nights that I wake up sweating, freaking out that I missed an interview.
I have a completely different mindset here. I’m always on the lookout, on the hunt for sources, hoping to get that next great quote, the one that will make the story. Cab drivers, lay people in the city streets, my host family, my friends’ host families, guest lecturers at SIT. When I say always hunting for sources, I mean it. And it pays off. A cab driver I met last night works during the day as a nurse at a hospital here in Amman. Today, I gave his number to Christina, who is working on a story about mental healthcare and treatment in Jordanian asylums, as they’re still called here. And many others I have met and networked with have assisted me, somehow, either directly or indirectly. I think I need to take this mindset back to the states with me. Hopefully, I won’t have to tell US customs about it…
And maybe I need to find a place I can freelance on a regular basis, first, before I can hunt for sources stateside. I guess only time will tell how this new attitude plays out for me and my career.
People say that you only get one chance at a first impression. A year ago, at this time, I was blown away by the city of Amman and the Jordanian people, who welcomed me with open arms into their country, their lives, their homes. In just two weeks’ time, Amman- and the entire Jordanian nation, for that matter- exceeded all of my wildest dreams. Now that I am back, I think my first impressions were accurate. I love it here, and I love that I had the opportunity to return here.
I had the privilege and honor of traveling with and working alongside a fantastic group of reporters who have become dear friends of mine since our journey to Jordan and Turkey ended in June of last year. Michele, Erin, Erin, Hanna, Ally, Fernanda, Emily, Rob, Ryan, Val, Catherine, Lauryn, Joe, Morgan, Kaileigh, Jessica, Katie, Charles and I developed a strong bond that means so much to me, still, to this day. I actually find myself yearning for their company, insight, and support this time around. It’s a strange feeling, to be back here in this amazing city, without them. They were such an intrinsic and central part of my experience last year that it’s almost incomplete without them here. But, alas, you never step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus of Ephesus once said. I’m excited about the adventure on the horizon, and I hope that the coming five weeks will prove as invaluable and worthwhile as last year.
This year, I came back to Jordan with a dose of hesitation. I applied to the program, way back in October of 2011, because it was life changing last year. I learned more about myself and my own limitations as a journalist, and more importantly, as a person. I was pushed to my limits, and beyond, forced to challenge myself and all I had learned to that point. My writing style developed more over the course of five weeks in Jordan and Turkey than it had over three years of “traditional” college courses. Carlene Hempel, a Northeastern professor with whom I have taken three courses, also played a big part in my decision to return on another journey to the Middle East. She has always pushed me, but not in an intimidating way. She’s been doing this for many years, and I am always eager to continue to learn from her. When I interviewed with her, in November I think, I remember her saying something along the lines of, “Aren’t you sick of me yet?” I’m not. I was always told by my mother to pick teachers’ brains, and learn as much from them as possible, no matter how mean or difficult they are. I came back to Jordan not only because I loved the experience, but also because I feel I still have more to learn about working as an international reporter in the Middle East.
On another, sort of related note, yesterday was Mother’s Day back in the good old U.S. of A. I miss my mother dearly, and always strive to continue to make her proud. I miss you, mom, and I love you. I always will.
And now, I’ll sign off with a quote that I love:
“You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.” -William Hazlitt
And how about one more, for good measure:
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao-Tzu