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I had the most wonderful conversation of my life last night...

Rome Travel Blog

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One of my roommates here in the Rome program is an art student from Japan. I don't think I could put this girl into words if I tried. She is kind, happy, refreshingly sincere, outgoing, committed to her work. I can't say enough about her. When I was sick and feeling depressed she offered, no insisted, on making me dinner, and refused to let me do the dishes. She is the kind of person who notices the little things that most people either don't notice or choose to ignore. She notices what makes you happy and then says and does things just to make you smile, just because she wants to be a good friend. No, I am not in love with my roommate haha, it's just so refreshing to be around someone so honest...when she talks, she looks you right in the eye and says what she's thinking...it's so unfiltered, but she says everything with the intent of bringing happiness to those around her. Her mind seems to always be searching for new ways to make people happy or to make life a little more pleasant. And not to mention this girl is courage personified. She is fluent in English but has never lived in an English-speaking country. She studied English in school and has an American boyfriend so her English is pretty good, but she has trouble communicating sometimes. What inspires me is the way none of this has stopped her from joining this program in an American university with all American students, not knowing anyone at all, not knowing any Italian at all, and you should see the way she throws herself completely, fearlessly into everything! She has never taken an Italian class in her life and yet she somehow learns just the phrases she needs to know, and she makes Italian friends everywhere she goes! haha

Getting on with the most wonderful conversation, Momoko (amazing roommate's name) came back to the room last night after a party. I was here doing some work but stopped to chat for a little. Momoko is one of those people that are so easy to talk to. She has an idea about everything, and she's always so willing to share her thoughts with you. We got to talking about art because she's told me that she got a lot of work done at the studio at school today. I always find it so interesting to hear Momo talk about her creative process, and what art means to her, perhaps because since I've decided to study business, I feel that those kind of conversations have found their way out of my life. We sat for a while last night and talked about a lot of things like the benefits of studying something you love like art versus something more practical like my studying accounting. Momo told me about how she had gone to private school in junior high and high school and how she'd always earned really good grades and was always at the top of her class. She told me how it was expected of her to go to a really good Japanese university after college. She told me about how she'd done as was expected of her in high school and studied really, really hard. It's funny because I think it was at this point I realized how much we had in common and how much I could learn from her. I've been kind of feeling taken up in the whirlwind of this experience and just consumed by all the work I have and all the traveling I'm trying to plan. I've been feeling a bit unhappy lately and wasn't quite sure why. I think it's because I knew that I was searching for something when I came here. I wanted to learn more about myself, about who I am, about the world and different peoples' ways of thinking, but here it's so easy to get caught up in so many other things. When Momo started telling me more about her story, I began to feel that I was right where I should be, having the kind of conversation that I needed to be having. She told me about how she realized in high school that she had been studying so much, working so hard in order to do what was expected of her, that she felt as though she had lost herself. She told me about how she always loved to draw. When she was younger she would draw magical things and express her feelings through her art. But after she'd studied and studied for years in high school and hadn't paid much attention to what she loved, she'd felt completely unhappy. She told me that when she'd tried to draw, she found that she couldn't anymore. It wasn't the same. In her words, she'd lost her magic. The loss of her ability to create, to express herself artistically made her so upset. She realized that she did not care about attending a top university. She wanted to study art and so she did. I can't really explain how much her story touched me. I know that the same thing has probably happened to a number of people, but if you knew Momo, you'd know what I mean. She lives life with a style, with an enthusiasm like no one I know. She takes chances and she's not afraid. She knows what she wants out of life, she knows what makes her happy and she makes sacrifices without hesitation, because she knows that doing what society expects or what would bring in a nice paycheck will not make her happy. Art makes her happy, even though it may bring her many struggles. It's what motivates her.

This whole conversation made me think about writing, how I'd always done so well in high school with writing, how I'd write on my own to express my own emotions, how it was the only thing that could bring me comfort during the worst trials of my life, how I could extract some kind of feeling out of those days of feeling nothing that we all get. I haven't really written in four years. Being a business student, I've had the ideas of competition and efficiency shoved down my throat. I do understand their importance in business and I'm not saying I don't care about them, but I feel like I've been lacking motivation for a long, long time, and it's made me so sad. I, too, went to private school and was always at the top of my class. I thought that naturally the next step would to be to study something that would bring in a nice paycheck, and anytime I've faltered during the course of my studies, being the perfectionist that I am, I attributed it to my not being good enough, not to the fact that I'm doing something that doesn't inspire me at all. It was so refreshing to talk to Momo about this, because usually no one else understands. They tell me that in such an economy accounting is a good thing to have studied because I will easily be able to find a job. I can't disagree with this completely, and since I am almost done with school, there is not much I can do about it. However talking to Momo really helped me to realize that I am not crazy, that there is nothing wrong with longing to do something that inspires you, that make you feel fulfilled. I expressed to her also that I feel that I can't write anymore. I don't really read anymore except for my business textbooks. I, like Momo, feel as though I've also lost my magic. I don't notice things that I used to. I don't feel things like I used to. Like Momo put it, it's like a death of a part of you, the most important part, the part that makes you want to get up in the morning because you can do something that you love. Momo notices everything, the things I used to notice too when I read and wrote a lot. She told me about how it made her said to see "Japanese businessmen with dead eyes." I don't want to be someone with dead eyes. The sad thing is that I feel like I have been for a few years now. I don't want to be that way anymore. I know that I have t get a job in order to earn money but I know now that I can't let myself become my job. I've done that through college and I know how it has seemed to tear me apart from who I am. So my new mission is to write more. I feel happy for once in a long time. And it's not a forced kind of happy. I know that things will be difficult and I have a lot more confusion to get through, but I've realized that I'm not just an unhappy person...I've just been trying to force something for too long. I know now that I have to get back to writing, even if I feel I'm too busy or I don't have enough time. It's something that completes me, something I can't be happy without. It's the reason I love languages so much. I love words and how they can be used to express emotions, to describe people and places, to communicate. I know I'm supposed to be learning about myself...I feel like I've finally started to do that...so look forward to more entries!!!
JenCooks86 says:
Hi, Ella. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. This way of looking at life like a river is really beautiful. It's funny that your comment brought me back to this blog post. This is the first time that I've read it since 2009, and I feel like re-reading my own words at this point in my life is something that I needed more than I'd realized.

I do feel like I'm in the process of finding my "way." (We're always in the process of this, aren't we? hehe) I feel that I've learned a bit more about the balance between dreams and practicality. But I've never forgotten that part of me that I found in Rome. I struggle to find time to write, but I've been traveling a bit more.

I'd love to talk sometime about travels...I'll add you! :)
Posted on: Aug 17, 2011
Ella01 says:
That's a nice thoughtful blog. Sometimes we travel to get away in order to think for ourselves.

It has been a few years I hope you found your 'way'? Being in Rome and Italy recently made me realise I no longer want or need my old life. It was great wonderful but its time to change - life and relationship I read once is like the river it flows fast , often twisting turning, where its path is blocked it will go another way , but whichever way it - you go - the end is the same place. We sometimes have no choice which directions to take but sometimes we have to decide to take a chance and go our own ways........take care :-)
Posted on: Aug 14, 2011
homeres says:
Fantastic blog!
Posted on: Feb 12, 2009
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