My name is Tyler Manoukian and I am doing what I never expected. On January 7, 2013, I leave the U.S. for the first time in my life. I’ll be traveling to the land of my ancestors — Italy, for five illustrious months of travel, cultural immersion, and an entirely new experience.
Deciding to study abroad with University Studies Abroad Consortium was not an easy decision — I spent the equivalent of days beating my head against a wall (just kidding!) deciding if I had enough courage to leave the place I call home for five months. It was a crazy thought, one that I never expected to become a reality. But it has, and I will leave, and I will have the time of my life.
And so, the next chapter of my life will write history in Viterbo, Italy. Viterbo is surrounded by medieval walls, still intact, built during the 11th and 12th centuries. Entrance to the walled center of the city is through ancient gates. Apart from agriculture, the main resources of Viterbo’s area are pottery, marble, and wood. The town also hosts the Italian gold reserves, an important Academy of Fine Arts, and the University of Tuscia, (where I’ll be studying!) and is located in a wide thermal area.
Adapting to life in Viterbo could be challenge, but its a welcomed challenge. My journalism program advisor, Razvan Sibii, who is also the man responsible for my commitment to study abroad, once told me that if I immerse myself into the Italian culture and resist temptations to hang with Americans too much, I could be a lot better off. He went on to say that if I didn’t try hard enough to really accept and welcome this culture into my life, I would feel homesick and generally pretty awful throughout my trip. That is not say that I won’t have fun, because I already said I will, but its important to remember that we live in a hyper-individualized society and this type of rapid change could be difficult to deal with.
I’ll be leaving a comfortable life that took me 22 years to forge. I’ll leave my lovable dog, Tikanni, who is a constant reminder of the kind of empathy and energy I want to emulate in life. I’ll say goodbye to my jerk of a brother, who has bailed me out of some of the worst situations possible — some highly unexpected. My sister will probably miss me the most … wait, I’m not so sure about that. I know she loves me though, that’s enough for me. My parents too, who have literally given me the greatest gift that Santa Claus cannot bring — life. I’ll miss everyone, actually. But the lifeline to the U.S. will be funneled through this virtual prism called a blog.
This blog will serve a unique purpose in my journey through life as it will help readers relive stories of my experiences and thoughts about life across the pond.
Look forward to weekly updates, and pictures through my Picasa web album!