I can now check the following item off my “Life’s To Do List”:

Travel to Italy.

To many, this has probably been easily done and for some, probably done many times over. I have harbored this goal for well over a decade and every time the plan was in motion, no matter how remedial or advanced, something would get in the way and I would have to bow out. But now I not only get to travel to Italy, I get to live here for the better part of the coming year!

By now the news is, well, old… I was accepted at both Johns Hopkins and Georgetown for graduate school and have chosen the former which has afforded me this most interesting of adventures. I am studying at their School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and will complete my first year in Bologna, Italy and the second in Washington, D.C. And while now might be an appropriate time to explore self-doubt and second guessing, I’ll save those topics for another time.

It was tough to leave Chicago again – actually it was much more difficult this time than when I left for Jamaica for reasons that really do not need exploring right now. I truly love that city. From the moment I arrived on June 1, 1998, I always have felt comfortable there. It quickly became home. And so while this adventure to visit the motherland (I’m half Italian if you don’t know) is an incredible opportunity, I begin this segment of my journey with an infinitely heavy heart and deep longing to be around that which is familiar to me, my home and those who make it so. What was almost equally tough was the flight across the Atlantic.

I had the misfortune of being seated in the last row of a Lufthansa flight on the side of the plane where the two corner seat’s don’t recline very much. Sitting next to a 16 year old kid with a propensity for oldies and looking out the window for the duration of the flight (which subsequently brought in heaps of light making it difficult to fall asleep), I had the added bonus of the galley and restroom hubbub to content with over my right shoulder. It was a long seven hour flight to say the least but my plan was paying off: I purposely stayed awake until 5 AM the night before so as to sleep on the plane and possibly fight jet lag. I’m happy to report it worked quite well. I am at the end of my third day in Bologna and I have felt no effects of travel since Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and for those keeping track, I have ordered 5 espressos since arriving. Four of them were on the first day. Today was the latest and yesterday I survived solely on the large coffee the hotel gave me with breakfast.

The fine people of Bologna do their best to live up to every Italian stereotype imaginable: fashion-conscious (although that is open to some pretty wide interpretation and scrutiny), demonstrative with their speech (including their hands), taking their time with food, and shady-ness. I have learned one thing after only 3 days: Nothing In Italy Is Legit! Someone somewhere is getting a slice of some pie a few times over but that’s just the way things are done here. (See yesterday’s entry regarding apartment hunting) Of course, much the same could be said about the U.S. I suppose. What’s more, being immersed in this culture has led to better understand my mom’s side of the family. As I roam the main streets and side alleys of this city I feel like I am perpetually at a family gathering, which is actually kind of comforting.