Stories from Abroad — Mariel Delgado
Over the summer of 2016, I studied abroad with the Art and Design department. We spent three weeks in Oxford, and four weeks in Italy. Our first full day in Italy happened to be my birthday. I had already been experiencing some homesickness because I was only able to spend two days with my family before I flew out. As I woke up on the day of my birthday, it crushed my heart that my family was not there to celebrate with me. Even though it was a Sunday, we had a class day due to us having Monday off for Memorial Day. We went to visit the Colosseum and the Roman Forums. On the way there, I spent most of my time looking down at my phone and talking to my parents, wishing that I was with them. Most of the morning was very hard for me, until I made the realization that I was in a place so full of history and beauty and that I should fully embrace being able to celebrate my birthday in such a place as that. The four girls that I hung out with most of the trip; Shelby, Kennedi, Cleo, and Erika, took me out to lunch near our hotel and bought me some gelato (over the course of the trip, I had 54 scoops of gelato).
After exploring the Colosseum and Roman Forums, we had some free time before dinner as a group. My friends and I walked around and explored Rome. Along the way, we stopped to buy fresh fruit from a street vendor and artwork from an artist. The artist who was selling (and painting) the work was an older man and super sweet. Although I did not know Italian, I spoke in Spanish to him, hoping he understood me. It seemed he did, because excitement spread across the artist’s face like that of a small child in a candy store. We ended up buying three pieces of artwork from him, and before we left he kissed each of our hands, thanking us. After that, we walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a little bit.
Around 6:30pm, we all walked to the restaurant as a group. It was not far from the hotel, but hidden in the cutest area. The scene was like that of a movie — sun setting behind the buildings, a nice breeze, and live music radiating from every restaurant we passed. That night we celebrated every May birthday from our group, but it felt extra special to me because it was on the actual day of my birthday. The servers taught us how to sing “Happy Birthday” in Italian and although it was a train wreck, we had so much fun trying. The Art and Design department was already really close, but over the course of the trip the other students and professors became like a second family to me. Even though I was not able to spend my birthday with my family back in the United States, my Art and Design family really made it a birthday I will never forget.