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As I sat in my seat listening to music, I could feel the rumble of the plane landing. I heard babies crying and people frantically speaking in a different language. Surrounded by clusters of people and air-borne for eight hours now, my apprehension was at its peak and I was ready to land. Stepping off the plane in Rome, I took a deep breath and realized that something was different about the air. It was a signal that welcomed me into this new world. As I walked, I noticed foreign signs, which were adjacent to the foreign foods, which were emitting foreign smells. Everything moved so quickly, with people using their hands while they talked and kisses being given from cheek to cheek; and to think I saw all this action just in the time spent walking through the airport lobby!

After our group arrived in the hotel and settled in, my squash coach took me to see something that would set the tone for my entire trip. As I made my way into the Sistine Chapel I didn’t know what to expect, I had no knowledge of its magnitude. But as I looked up at the chapel ceiling I did not feel like I had expected I would. Instead of feeling surprised or shocked at the artwork and architecture before me, I was taken to a place of comfort. I realized that although I was in such an unfamiliar place, finding something that I loved in this new place would not be as difficult as I had thought.

Even though I was in an environment I had never been around before, looking past those differences allowed me to relate Italy to something that I already knew and loved. Living in New York City, I was always in an environment in which beautiful skyscrapers lined the streets, and it was there that my interest in architecture was born. I felt that the type of architecture that existed in my city could never exist anywhere else, and it doesn’t. However, in Italy I discovered a new type of architecture that I came to love just as much. Walking through the ruins I saw more than just miles upon miles of old stones. I saw what could be considered a template for many cities of today, and I saw civilization in the form of art, unlike any other.

Ultimately, going to Italy was an eye opening experience for me because even though I had a wonderful time, the insight I gained was greater. I realized that art exists in many forms and in many places. This experience, in the long run, has fueled me to look for new things and seek the unknowns of culture outside of my own.

-Sion Sennon, ’12

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