Reflection
Nicholas, Siena, Spring 2013
July 15, 2013

I was sitting on the Metro train yesterday pontificating, as most Metro riders do, and I realized something about myself and about all the people around me: we have all defined ourselves-whether we like it or not- by the perspectives we have experienced through the opportunities we have taken advantage of.

Thanks to SAI and SIS I was provided a truly defining change in perspective on the world and on myself by the opportunities they gave to me.

As I shared and have reflected upon many times before, during, and after my time in Italy, I was drawn to Italy and the Italian language very early on in my life. I remember sitting in my grandparent’s home early in the morning and hearing them bicker and complain in a language I never even heard, phrases zipping past my cereal bowl as my eyes flew between the two. It wasn’t until a school project on interviewing a family member that I learned about how my grandfather and grandmother met in Italy halfway between their respective homes in Rome and Naples. It wasn’t until I heard about how my grandfather fought an internal war between his American and Italian heritage while serving for the U.S. army in WWII. But most of all, it wasn’t until I truly saw the passion, love, and beauty my grandparent’s took on when they began to rattle off in their secret language.

After SAI offered me the scholarship, I knew I was going to Italy and that my life would change.

During my time in Italy I set out with three goals in mind: to explore without fear, to connect with my heritage and with my family still in Italy, and to find the natural pace of my life. What I never expected to happen was that these decisions would lead me to learn things and notice things about the world and about myself that would help me define how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

It is impossible for me to explain how the learning felt or what truly changed about me, I am still noticing new things about myself and the people around me never hesitate to remind me of the changes I have made. What I can say is that the time I spent in Italy and especially the people I met made me realize that though my life was not in Italy, I had a built a connection that would never leave me.

By gaining new perspectives in Italy, by learning in Italy, I developed a part of myself in Italy and it in me.

___

Nicholas Mathis is a student at the College of William and Mary studying at Siena Italian Studies in Italy during the Spring 2013 term.

zp8497586rq

Know Someone Who Would Be Interested?

About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.