Identity is one of the key foundations of humanity. It has caused wars, shaped political climates, built and broken barriers, and boggled the minds of most of the world. Our beliefs, values, and judgements all stir together to form the core of our identity. Typically causing more strife than peace, identity has been integral in shaping our world’s history and evolving the human population. The way identity plays out in society varies across cultures. I will be facing this difference for the first time as I venture from the United States to Rome, Italy, where I will be studying abroad for the next 4 months. In light of this trans-Atlantic journey that I am about to embark on, I realized that 20 years old is an interesting and essential age to reflect on one’s identity.
First and foremost, I identify as a young woman. While living at Rollins was a taste of freedom for me, traveling alone to another country and living on my own is a feat of total independence that many people of my gender and age do not have the ability to experience. These 4 months abroad should progress my identity as a strong, independent woman. Additionally, cooking entirely for myself abroad will be a new feat that, while falling under typical female gender roles, coincides with my love of food and my ability to create with it. Crucial to my experience is my Italian identity. Traveling to Italy feels more like “going home” than going to Rollins did. While not fluent in the language (yet), I feel less of a stranger in a new land than an eager student learning her heritage. This is integral in terms of my adjustment to the Italian culture and how I both view and relate to the natives I meet there. I already feel connected to the people, and desire to become more and more Italian every day there.
Lastly, my identity as a young student paints the way I interact with and see the world, especially a city as rich in history and culture as Rome. Every overheard Italian conversation, beautiful building, and piece of artwork sparks my interest and desire to explore. While I will be taking classes at a university, the bustling streets of Rome are where my hunger for knowledge will roam free. I hope to learn from the locals much more than just pasta-making, but the particulars that comprise a Roman’s identity and how to live more like one. The different identities I encounter while abroad, from my American roommates to the corner cappuccino-makers, will both challenge and enrich my own, as I strive for a harmonious and beautiful time abroad.