All done yet nowhere near done…

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Well, I did it. I have graduated from SUNY New Paltz with the rest of the class of 2013, and I graduated with my Italian study abroad sash and my XAE honor cord. What better way for an Italian major to graduate than to walk in the Italian National Team’s colors? Through the course of just four years, there were many decisions I had to make and even more hardships that I had to overcome. Along the way, I made some of my dreams come true and added some more goals to already long list of stuff I want to do during my lifetime. Now that I have graduated, aside from about $30,000-$40,000 in loans, nothing is in my way, and I will start to cross things off that list. Congrats Class of 2013!

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Family Tree Searching

When I have the chance to go to Sicily, I am grabbing it, and I am going. This is not just for the scenery and the history. This is a bit more personal. For the longest time, I have been trying to research my family tree. My surname had been changed to what it is today when my great-grandfather was born back in 1917. Before he was born, his father Domenico had come over from Sicily in 1905 then again in 1913, but that was all of the information that we had known. After some research, I found that his last name, and our true surname was Santomauro. Looking on the Ellis Island site, a Domenico Santomauro can be found coming into the United States in 1905 and in 1913. Ellis Island has just recently updated the information even more telling us which town they previously lived in in Italy, and I saw that today. Apparently, Domenico came from S. Stefano, Sicily in 1905. There are two S. Stefano towns in Sicily: Santo Stefano di Camastra and Santo Stefano Quisquina. I looked up the name directory in these little towns; in the first town there are no Santomauros, but in the second town, Santo Stefano Quisquina, there are about five Santomauros. This town seems to be promising. There is no way to find out for though if these people really are my relatives unless I go to Sicily. The other town from 1913, (apparently, there are records of Domenico travelling back and forth) is Villafrati, Sicily. I looked into this town as well and found that it is a town of about 3000 or so inhabitants. I then found a website directory for this town and searched the last name Santomauro; there are about twenty-three people in this little town with this surname. This means, that if Ellis Island is right, that if my research is correct, and he did come over from this little town or the other little town, that I might have nearly twenty-eight possible relatives in Sicily! I have goosebumps right now. 

Life Since Europe…

I returned to the United States on 23rd December 2012 after having been in Europe since 27th June 2012. Since that day I have not wanted anything but to go back. The longing for Italy and Turkey is overwhelming, and my need to travel is consuming me. I have been trying to keep myself busy with work (only about two days a week) and with school, but my schedule really is not that crazy this semester. Graduation looms ever nearer, and the stress of not knowing what I’ll be doing after it or where I will be is driving me nuts. I desperately need a decently paying job (don’t we all?), so that I can start paying off my loans, and so that I can leave the country and travel a bit. I do not want to wait to travel until I’m older and retired. I want to get out now while I am young so that I can truly experience the wonders of the world.

When I first came back from Italy, I had planned on tutoring students who were taking Elementary Italian 101 and 102 classes, but even though I am the only Italian major on campus, all of the Italian tutoring positions had already been taken by previous tutorers. This dampened my spirits in more ways than one. Not only had I been counting on that job for a bit more money on the side and to make my résumé look better, but I had been counting on it to keep in touch with the Italian language since there are no longer any upper level Italian classes taught at my university. While tutoring I would have been reviewing the materials that the students were going over as well as helping them speak. I am losing touch and a lot of my Italian since I did not receive this job. I had considered sitting in on the Intermediate Italian classes, but these classes are held during the same time as my other classes so that was not an option for me. I read through the online Italian newspapers and such, but it’s not the same. I only have two friends at this university who are native fluent speakers, but neither live on campus anymore so I do not really see them anymore. I really need to go back to Italy sooner rather than later.

One thing that I have really been starting to work on is my Turkish. Being that my boyfriend is from Turkey and no one in his family (besides his sister and himself) can speak English, I believe that it best for me to learn Turkish. Lately, I have been understanding a lot more of what is being said when listening to him and his friends speak, and my goal is to be able to be conversational by the time his parents fly in from Turkey for graduation the middle of May. I finally have Rosetta Stone, and after only one use, I am already remembering more and more. I plan on labeling everything in my room (hopefully my roommate won’t mind too much) and doing Rosetta Stone at least once a day for an hour. One of the most difficult things about this language for me is the sounds. I did a linguistic project on it and I found out that there are numerous sounds in the Turkish language that we do not have in English. I had guessed this, but I felt much more at ease when I found out that I was not losing my mind or sense of hearing. Another thing that is hard for me is that I have had and probably will not have formal instruction in this language. This is a language that I must tackle on my own. I’ve taken numerous languages throughout my schooling career (Spanish, Japanese, Swahili, Chinese, and Italian) all of which I excelled in, but learning a language without formal instruction is foreign to me, and I must learn how to do it. I feel that with Rosetta Stone I will be able to excel more than I would have done just learning by myself from a book, so I am happy about that. So a recount? Decent fluency in Turkish by the middle of May. Ready, set, go!

Europe really has been the only thing on my mind since I have been back. I know now that the United States is not the place for me. Wherever my place is, I do not know, but eventually I hope to find it. I am nothing but miserable here, and I would love to turn that around. Personally, I am not sure if I could permanently live in Turkey, but I could definitely try it out for a few years. Italy, the South, Firenze, or Torino, I could definitely live in. There is so much left of the world to see though. I need more time. I need more money! Oh, America, you grossly overcharge your students for the schooling costs. The “education” that we receive is nowhere near worth what we are charged. Europe, you’re doing it right when it comes to costs. I’ll leave the cost situation for another time though.

Europe, I miss you dearly.

Performing in Pisciotta

THP 3232 / 4 credits / Summer (offered in Italy) 
“Italian performance and plays from the 20th century are considered in their social and political contexts, including the works of Dario Fo, a performer and playwright who received the Nobel Prize in Literature. The course culminates in a student performance of selected scenes and excerpts, staged in an ancient piazza.”

Over the summer, while I was studying abroad in Pisciotta, Italy through SUNY Purchase, one of the classes that I took was called 20th Century Italian Theatre and Drama. Throughout this course, taught by Professor Champagne, we read through many Italian plays of the twentieth century.

Early on, we started to memorize lines from the plays, because at the conclusion of the class, when we were to leave Pisciotta, we had to put on a play for the entire town. We memorized quite a few scenes from a few different plays, all in Italian. This was no easy feat for me since I have had to previous acting experience, unless a play that I did in 2nd grade counts, and all of the other students in the class were Theater majors. The other aspect of the play that was difficult was that all of the lines that we had to memorize were in Italian. At least this aspect was a little bit easier for me since I had been studying the language much longer than the others had been; most just started to learn the language when we came to Pisciotta. Aside from our scheduled class times, where we would rehearse, our professor would schedule time for us to do rehearsals in the old piazza where we were to perform. I ended up acting in a few of the scenes in the play such as in La distanza della luna by Italo Calvino in which I played “la Luna” or the Moon, L’ispezione by Ugo Betti in which I played Iole, and in Dario Fo’s Non si paga! Non si paga! in which I was an extra dancer for one of the scenes.

After weeks of practice, we finally performed our stitched together scenes in front of the entire town in their old piazza. I am a person of extreme stage fright, so I did not know how I was going to be able to do it, but somehow, with a lot of encouragement from the locals and from my friends, I did; I went out into the piazza and said my lines without forgetting anything. I may have completely avoided looking at the audience, but I performed nonetheless. One thing that my professor was nervous of was that throughout practices I was always to quiet, but after the performance she congratulated me and told me it was as if I had turned into a completely different person which does make sense since I was playing a range of other characters. As much as I may have detested going to extra rehearsals and fearing the thought of performing a play in another language that is not my native to tongue to native speakers, I think that if given the chance, I would do it again and again, as long as I have Pisciotta and the people I was surrounded with to work with again.

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