After a five-hour flight delay and staying a wake for nearly 29 hours, I can say I am finally well-rested and settled back at home with two days of recovery. Now with a clear head, I have enjoyed journaling and reflecting on what truly was a trip of a lifetime. I haven’t even scratched the surface of explaining all of what I have learned and experienced with my parents, but talking about my trip has made me connect more with a sense of pride and accomplishment in myself. Thinking back to my goal-setting in the Spring Course, I remember my main goal was to step outside of my comfort zone, challenge myself, but also challenge other’s beliefs about the people and places I was visiting. Now at the end of my trip, I can say I did accomplish these things.
One of my biggest concerns going into my summer experience was getting lost as I have always had a poor sense of direction. In Rabat, I was fortunate enough that my daily routine included navigating through the winding medinas, and with this practice I challenged myself to take on medinas in other towns, such as Tangier, Chefchaoen, and Marrakesh. Then in Italy, I naturally found myself leading the group in both planning and directing the group from point A to B. Don’t get me wrong, I had my fare share of wrong turns and asking locals for directions, but in those times I learned as well: I learned how different towns perceived Americans and tourists, I learned how to engage in friendly conversation as well as navigate my way out of conversations that led to locals asking for money for taking me from point A to B. Everything was a learning experience.
Then, arriving in Italy I had already endured unreal and unforgettable experiences and I enjoyed sharing these experiences with my new group. Also, as I explained previously my peers in Italy were much more compelled to sticking within a group, so naturally I was known to be more independent; however, my peers described me as the most “adventurous” of the group—a word I have never been associated with before. I was always known to be the cautious, book-worm, low-profile personality among my friends and I found it funny when my friends and locals I met thought of me as adventurous, outgoing, and even called me a “legend.” While I still can’t see myself as the “adventurous” type, I do think my summer experience has shaped my personality more than I can realize right now.
Lastly, discussed in detail in Blog 2, at the start of my experience I had many loved ones doubt my intentions, hopes, and ability to gain the most out of my trip due to stereotypes and safety concerns. Their doubts made my belief that good exists everywhere seem more naïve than true, but I was determined to prove to myself and others that, that was not the case. Throughout my trip I met an older couple at the Hassan II Mosque whose son studied at FSU, I danced my way through Rabat to Marrakesh to Tangier and lastly to Italy, and met a 4th year resident from New York who decided to study medicine in Pavia—a path I can definitely see myself taking. These experiences and more have affirmed my beliefs that the world is truly more connected than we can fathom, making it all the more important to see through the stereotypes that block so many from seeing all the beauty and good people that exist in this world.
While I do not have the topic nailed down, I do have a better idea of the direction my project is going: my last two days in Pavia I had the opportunity to visit a neurological research facility where I interviewed a physiotherapist and the chief of the Pediatric Neuroscience department for Neuromuscular Disorders. After I transcribe the interviews I will have a clearer picture on my Capstone Topic and how to connect it to my experiences in Rabat.