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.
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,