Quirks of Main Campus that may often go unnoticed can be cause for homesickness while abroad.
I don’t get lost in Anderson anymore, I know the places to avoid at the Student Center, and I always manage to find a computer at the TECH Center during finals week. I have best friends, people I know through my major and people I know through random clubs and get-togethers. I feel like I have my life together back in Philadelphia.
Rome, however, is a different story. I keep forgetting that although Temple Rome is technically a part of the university, it’s not exactly the same as being in Philadelphia.
Aside from not knowing where to buy a bar of soap (no, it’s not sold at the grocery store), I don’t know which cafés are the cheapest to get an espresso from (although I usually just buy from the machine at school for 30 cents) or which pizzas will make me sick to my stomach. And compared to the amount of people I can recognize on my Main Campus, I feel like I know no one here.
OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I came into the program knowing about five people from school (including one incredibly embarrassing hookup, but I’ll save that story for another column). I met a group of girls in the program who were on the same flight as me, and now that classes have been in session for two weeks, I’ve become ballsy enough to talk to my fellow pupils. But it’s really not the same.
Basically, I feel like a freshman again. And I hate it. The concept of having to start my college experience from scratch is something I don’t want to have to accept – I’m more than content with my life the way it is.
I’m not the type of person who can waltz up to a group of strangers and strike up a conversation. Even something as simple as “Hey, I’m Libby. Who are you, and what’s your major?” seems horribly awkward to me, so I just end up standing on the fringes of a group, smiling and laughing, until I feel like I’ve gauged my audience’s humor level well enough to make a witty comment.
I usually fail. Needless to say, it takes me a while to make new friends.
It’s been difficult for me to find my niche here. There are the “Longchamp girls,” who go to Brown University and walk around in an impenetrable bubble with their matching overpriced, black nylon bags, not talking to those of us who attend a public university.
There’s also the football player who constantly wears Ralph Lauren polos and a Rolex watch, who I lovingly refer to as “Duke” – can you guess where he goes to school? And, a Temple staple, there’s the pretentious art kids who won’t look at you twice if you don’t always have a paintbrush or sketchbook in hand.
As a columnist, sorority girl and literary magazine editor, where the hell am I supposed to fit in this highly stereotypical mosaic?
I guess it’s unfair of me to be judging people like this. After all, I wouldn’t want anyone to confine me to one or all three of the aforementioned categories.
Our activities, the place we choose to go school and what we wear are the tiniest indications of the type of people we are. Judging by surface appearances tells us little to nothing about people’s true personalities – no matter how much we think we have them figured out.
Keeping an open mind not only about living in Rome, but also the people I live here with, is going to be a challenge. But it’s a challenge that I’m willing to tackle. After all, in the end, we all have at least one thing in common: We have no idea what the heck’s going to happen during the rest of this semester.
Libby Peck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.