Last night were the last calcio matches of the season! My team, Viola, made it to the semifinals and we played Rosa (pink) and lost. Although we were disappointed, the game was a lot of fun to play and we definitely ‘left it all on the field’. When I found out about JFRC’s intramural soccer league, I laughed at the idea of ever playing. My family is a baseball, football and volleyball family; far from soccer or any form of it. I reluctantly signed up as an effort to meet new people, stay active and see if soccer may actually be something I would enjoy! When I first told my dad he laughed for a good minute or two because he didn’t believe me. Then when he pictured me playing, another round of laughter ensued. Little did we both know that I wasn’t actually half bad at the sport (not exactly good either) but definitely able to kick the ball when it came to me. The season flew by, maybe because I was injured on two separate occasions with both my ankles sprained, and I missed two weeks due to bronchitis, but Viola had its triumphs without me and led us to the finals! I am excited to play next semester.
In Italy, soccer on Wednesdays is ritualistic. Where I’m from, religion on Wednesday nights is the equivalent to calcio for Italian men here. All the fields are full of both young and old Italians playing a pick-up game, or competitively practicing for their leagues. It’s their form of religion. The women don’t play, which I find very interesting but I guess that’s another cultural difference between the states and here.
Overall, the final week of calcio made me think a lot about not only Italian culture, but also about my past four months in Rome at the John Felice Rome Center. I have already learned so much about Italy -Rome in particular- I have learned a lot from my professors and fellow classmates, and I have learned a lot about myself. Independently traveling has given me the opportunity to grow and reflect on my life and in ways that I never have before. I am an avid writer and love to keep a journal especially when I’m traveling, but even considering how therapeutic writing has been in the past for me, hasn’t compared to spending this amount of time abroad on my own. As I start to pack for returning home for winter break, I fill my suitcase with tokens of my travels thus far, and already am excited to return in January –hopefully with an emptier suitcase- ready to fill it up again with another four months worth of memories.