Ciao!

On this day two years ago, I was leaving Jamaica for the first time…
On this day two weeks ago I was landing in Europe/Italy for the first time…

Hi! I’m Juleen and I am a Jamaican student. I study Computer Science and Italian at Vassar College in New York and I am in Italy for a semester. I will be in Lecce for another week (I have already been here for two) before going to Bologna for the rest of the semester. I decided to create a blog to share my experiences with you. In general, the blog will be in English but I will also include a paragraph in Italian for practice. I’m excited for this semester and I’m happy to share this journey with you.

“Ciao! Mi chiama Juleen e sono una studentessa giamaicana. Studio l’informatica e l’italiano a Vassar College a New York e sono in Italia per un semestre. Sarò a Lecce per un’altra settimana prima di andare a Bologna per il resto di semestre. Ho deciso di creare un blog per condividere con voi le mie esperienze. In generale, il blog sarà in inglese ma includerà anche un paragrafo in italiano per fare un po’ di pratica. Sono entusiasta per questo semestre e felice di condividere con voi questo viaggio.”

For as long as I can remember, it has been one of my dreams to travel the world. However, I grew up in an inner-city in Kingston, Jamaica and though I am not ashamed to say that I am from a poor family, this meant that I did not have the means to travel as I would have liked. But there was a fire growing inside me and now I have wanderlust and wish to experience as many cultures as I can. What is the best way to do that? Immersion!

I do not mean to say that travelling to Europe is “making it” or some sort of success. I am aware of how several European nations have negatively contributed to the current state of “third world” countries. This is something I will keep in mind as I travel to some of these countries. But as someone who has longed to travel and experience different cultures, I am proud to say that I worked towards one of my goals and I am seeing it realised. I am also proud that wherever I go, I see the influence that the culture of my country, my tiny island of Jamaica, has had in places such as the USA and even Italy.

In the short time that I have been here, I have already learnt about bands that have been influenced by reggae and raggamuffin. I have walked in the streets and randomly heard an Italian child talking to his family about Usain Bolt. I have seen posters about Damian “Junior Gong” Marley’s upcoming performance in Lecce in September. I have been informed that interestingly enough, Salento, the zone of Italy where I am currently located, is called “la Giamaica d’Italia” (the Jamaica of Italy). Here’s a video of Richie Stephens talking about his performance in Italy (Salento).

I am very happy that I chose to study abroad in Italy. The best part has been all the constant reminders of home. From hearing reggae-influenced music at a party to the horrible driving on the roads (yes, even the bad things), my adjustment has been much easier than I would have imagined.

It hasn’t truly hit me yet that I am here. Knowing myself, it probably won’t hit me until after I have left. I am too busy right now trying to take it all in, but one day I will look back and I will see how my experiences this semester shaped the person I become. I can’t wait for that moment…. but for now, I’ll continue just taking it all in.

Sending love and positivity,
Juleen

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