The view of Naples that I witnessed during my trip to Italy is portrayed through a simple, yet busy line drawing. The repeated lines show the orderly chaos and excitement of the city. It is a sketched out version of the real view that I hold in my memory to allow room for others to imagine the scene independently as well.
This day seemed too perfect to be true. On our second weekend in Italy, my four roommates (and now close friends) and I decided to go on a weekend trip to the city of Naples. After riding on the train through the sunrise, we arrived at our destination and wasted no time in exploring. We saw grand royal castles, ate delicious Neapolitan pizza, learned the history of churches, took drawing breaks, and squeezed in some shopping. It was a day filled with laughter and constant chatter. We were lucky enough to meet two Italians by chance who suggested that we go on top of a medieval castle that supposedly had a 360 view of Naples, so we set off determined to catch it by sunset. Time was ticking however, and the knowledge of the quickly impending sunset spurred the five of us to sprint through the cobblestone streets of Naples to get to the top of this castle, laughing as we hurriedly navigated through unfamiliar territory. Through sweat and heavy breathing, we finally arrived just as the sky had turned a vibrant magenta and the sun was setting over the pastel colored city and blue waters. It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen and I couldn’t help but find myself bursting with tears. Not the quiet kind of cry with a couple of tears trickling down your face, but full on sobbing.
To describe this moment, I need to back up a little over a decade. In 2007, my immediate family and I immigrated to the United States from Europe for what I thought was going to be a temporary stay. However, what followed was a series of complicated events that involved citizenship issues, financial hardships, and other obstacles. I did not have the ability or resources to leave the country, something that many take for granted. It took over ten years to see my relatives and friends, which was devastating to lose touch with everything that I had called home. My family had embedded me with a love of seeking out and exploring beautiful places, which left me hungry for travel despite my limitations. As I grew older, I obtained a green card and was able to start working. With a newfound potential that I could see in myself, a light at the end of the tunnel slowly appeared. I knew that I wanted to study abroad years before I attended a university and realized that if I had the power to get as far as I have, then I could make this happen too. The year leading up to my trip was rough. A strict financial plan was made, putting a percentage of my earnings into my study abroad savings. I worked three jobs, often said no to going out and often opted for meals like oatmeal and plain rice. I was filled with anxiousness and fear as my main goal at that point was to have enough money to make my traveling dreams a reality.
In the end, it ended up all working out. I was standing on top of Naples, but it felt like I was standing on top of the world. Around me were people speaking different languages, great company, a light breeze, and a breathtaking view. This was my “I did it” moment. This was the moment that made everything worth it. It all suddenly felt very real. I feel so privileged and lucky to have had the experience to study abroad, not only fulfilling me academically, but personally as well, knowing I had made it happen.