Blessie R. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy in Massachusetts.
"We lost Jalal."
In between quick head recounts, dropped jaws, and collective bouts of shock-induced laughter, one of my friends picked up her phone and began to dial the number of our resident director to explain what had happened. From accidentally taking the longest route to the town to quote-unquote "bribing" one of the bus drivers from the Capranica railway station to take us to the next nearest bus stop that would take us to the bus going towards Sutri, it was just our luck that a member of our group, fully immersed in the sounds coming from his airpods more so than his surroundings, had missed the stop. We expectedly waited at our stop to hear back about what we needed to do. With an hour left to spare until the next bus back and an hour less than we had initially planned for, what on Earth were we going to do?
It was four hours into Fieldwork Wednesday and the theme for this particular day was: l’escursione sorpresa. Surprise excursion. We were separated into four groups, one with approximately ten people each and we were given a slip of paper with the name of the place that would determine our journey. For us, that place just so happened to be Sutri. It would be disingenuous to claim that the day had gone anywhere close to what we had either wanted or expected for it. We argued… a lot. Whether it was in regards to the planning (or lack thereof) to so much as whether or not it was okay to stop by una pasticceria a minute away from the bus stop with ten minutes left to spare, our group had certainly reached its breaking point - with the trip and at times with each other. However, with some hindsight, it became clear that there were just as many moments worth celebrating as there were moments to ruminate in our frustrations over. If there's anything I learned from this experience - other than having come to full terms with just how directionally challenged both myself and others in my group were - it's that there's value to making mistakes and that all the rewards that have yet to be reaped often derive from the process more so than the end-goal. While the small town of Sutri was nothing short of beautiful - from its small but lively center to the concealed catacombs, I found that I actually took just as much away from the trip going to Sutri as I did Sutri itself. It was on the way over that I learned more about myself and my capacity to deal with the unexpected.
The next day during our Global Perspectives class, our teacher, Profesore Gatti, asked us about how the excursions went. As members within the Sutri group recounted everything that had happened that day, I expected for our anecdotes to be met with more dismay than amusement but he simply laughed, remarking on the importance of experiencing things that we had in our shortcomings and all.
As time passes by and I have more time to reflect, I'm beginning to find that my experiences at Sutri have become increasingly reminiscent of my experiences with living in Italy as a whole. Going into this experience, I had several expectations about the way that things would be. I thought everything would magically fall into place a bit more than they actually had. Whether it was in making new friends, crossing the language barrier or even in something as seemingly trivial as ordering coffee the right way, these are just a few aspects of studying abroad that I was excited to have had happened to me - but these things don't just happen. The truth is that you're going to have to try the same way you're going to have to fail and learn how to deal with those failures. Sutri, was just one out of the many experiences I've had here thus far that have helped me to develop a sense of ownership over the turn-out of my next seven months here.
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