Dreaming is the New Reality

The aspect about studying abroad that continues to amaze me is how time has gone by so fast and the memory of me leaving home feels like yesterday. Although I am physically in my last few weeks of my journey, I am still mentally on the first day that I arrived in Italy. Time while being here has been nothing but an illusion of trying to grasp the past and present yet constantly moving toward the future. Trying to grab hold of my memories and experiences during these past few months have been harder then trying to maintain a firm grip on a slippery object. Furthermore, this past weekend I came into acquaintance with Assisi, Italy, a small town in the center of the province of Umbria. The feelings that I have toward this slippery illusion of time are perfectly reflected in this charming town and I can only imagine that the residents of Assisi feel the same way I do when trying to grasp the concept of reality within their city walls.

From the distance all one can make out of Assisi is a white blur atop a mountainous terrain. The hills are rocky and less poised in their beauty than the Tuscan hills; however, they have their own unique charm and beauty that comes from the sense of adventure the steep landscape brings. After boarding a bus that would bring us to the top of the mountain, we watched reality sink farther and farther away into the distance. Once at Assisi’s city entrance, we took a glance down at where we once stood and silently waved goodbye to 2015. An arch with a red and blue flag dancing at the top greeted us as we slowly stepped into an illusion of time. At that moment, I could not discern the past from the present for they blended together beautifully in what I like to call this anachronistic city.

Unlike most cities that I have seen within Italy, there are no terra-cotta roofs but instead everything is white and stone. Hundreds or red flags hung horizontally off the buildings in a fashion that when walking through the narrow streets, one could see more flag then sky. The lanterns that hung from many shops were black and extremely ornate. Some were even fashioned to look as if a fictional dragon was supporting the lamp post. All shop doors were outlined in stone and some doors were so small that one had to crouch their bodies in order to get inside. The façade of the city therefore, is extremely medieval and the life and culture just adds to this.

The one thought I could not stop fixating on while in Assisi was that I felt like I was in a fantasy: this must be how actors on the set for “Harry Potter” feel. However, I was not in a fictional movie but I was immersed inside reality. This thought struck me hard considering my experience abroad in a nutshell has been my experience in Assisi. To be so displaced from reality where you feel like you are immersed in a fictional universe has been the thought that has been fogging my head during my trip to Assisi and for the past few months. Now that I am no longer in Assisi it all feels like a distant dream that I fell in love with. The one thing I wish I had done in Assisi is embracing the fact that I was inside a dream instead of trying to get a firm hold of reality. After all this is something that I have been trying to do throughout my entire experience here abroad, in fact it has been something everyone struggles with: trying to grasp their new reality. Maybe these next few weeks we should all treat our experiences abroad as if it isn’t real, or like we are actually immersed in a dream. It was my dream to come study abroad so maybe I should just forget about time, reality, the past and the present and start focusing on the beautiful dream I am living in.

Melissa Calato is a student at Wagner College and an official API Student Blogger. Melissa is studying abroad with API in Florence, Italy.

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