This is dedicated to my Italian readers, those who are Italian by birth or Italian-at-heart who stumble upon this blog by accident or through a friend. This is dedicated to my Italian friends who read this and may have doubts whether or not I love them or their country. This is dedicated to myself, as a reminder that I should stay sincere in the way I record experiences, and not to censor myself excessively in an attempt to please others.
Before anything else, I reiterate that everything I write is a record of events that truly happened. They may be colored by my perspective and my background and certainly are narrated using my point of view, and of course this will play a role in the way events are portrayed. That said, I am writing this as a personal record, something that I can look back on fondly in the future. As this is my premise, nothing written here is false and everything is recorded to the best of my abilities.
I apologize if some things that I write put Rome in a bad light, I truly do. This is my outlet of emotion, the place I put my thoughts into writing, the place I record gratitude. As with real life, some days are good and some are bad, and I endeavor to remember them all.
I have been told by a mutual friend that someone I thought was my friend has taken to badmouthing me in Italian, making a mockery of my experiences, my travels, and my being of Asian origin and my happiness at finding Asian food in Rome.
- My first reaction was to feel bad and wonder what I did to personally offend an Italian friend I had never said one bad word about before.
- My second reaction was to be angry. Many of my experiences in Rome have been ordeals, yes, but they all happened, recorded with honesty to the best of my ability. And yes, I am of Filipino-Chinese descent. Neither of these two are any grounds to criticize me in such a harsh manner, and the latter is borderline racism which I cannot accept in any form. As for the food… Italian food is truly a gift, but when one is so far away from ‘home’ you appreciate ‘local’ food much more and are genuinely happy during the rare times you come across even the most un-gourmet of instant noodles.
- My third reaction was to understand. I understand how my bad experiences of Italy (Rome, in particular) may be taken personally by an Italian. I understand because I am also nationalistic and I am strongly proud of my countries of heritage. I get fiercely angry when the Philippines or China is criticized— in fact a problem right now as the two are not exactly on friendly terms at the moment.
I want to say to her and to any other Italian reader that I write what I feel, what I experience. I write about happy times and sad times and sometimes crazy times, not only in Italy but wherever this PhD journey takes me. Life— in Italy, as a doctoral student, or simply as a girl finding her way in the world— is a rollercoaster of emotion and this is my record of it. That is all there is to it.
Rome has its problems. I am not saying Manila or Beijing or any other city in the world do not have their problems. Manila’s public transportation system is steadily becoming worse than ATAC and Beijing’s air pollution is a problem that has serious repercussions on her citizens. I am neither in Manila nor Beijing at the moment, I am in Rome, and this it is in this city that I find the home for most of my experiences this first year of PhD.
I apologize for any offense that may be taken. I do not apologize for being Asian. I do not apologize for writing what I experience. I do not apologize for feeling what I feel.
In the end, I’m writing this not to judge or condemn but to remember my life as a doctoral student— every single glorious and painful moment of it— and be able to look back at it years from now and reminisce. And perhaps help out fellow international student who stumble across the blog in some way.
Regarding the person who I thought was my friend, I replied to her original post because I wanted honesty and didn’t want any bad blood between us:
However, she deleted my reply and has not gotten in touch with me since. I think, to end this I will quote a good Italian friend Marco:
Toxic people can be anywhere. This has nothing to do with the country or the culture you are experiencing. I like to think that challenging with politeness an abusive behaviour, helps the toxic person realise the negative impact his/her actions or words have. Kindness is a powerful tool to disarm and open a door of opportunity for a change. We deserve to think peacefully.
With that, I choose peace.