Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Tonka Truck crush Car. Tonka win.

A wonderful thing about running: there is no grammar, pronunciation, or inflection involved! A double tall American female with a bro tank and topknot hair, jogging in silver shiny running shoes demands no need for translation or monetary exchange! While my nationality is still definite, I can exchange glances with fellow runners, assuming a mutual appreciation for sweat, callases, and blood blisters (cute, right?).

So, this evening, as I frolic along Rome’s potentially fatal cobblestone, I come to a halt at a cross walk, the little lighted man flashing RED. I begin to jog in place, thinking that I should maintain a moderate heart rate in order to allow for a heightened respiratory performance. (Of course, after 4 seconds of looking like a soiled kangaroo, I say fuck it and simply stand, feeling the sweat start to drip at my brow) More importantly, as I wait for the city’s impossibly long light changes, a pint-sized rust colored smart car pulls up along side me. (Most vehicles in Rome would fit quite nicely in the bed of a Ford F150). I should first point out that I have a hard time taking these cars seriously simply based on the fact that they have no trunk space and their cup holders would not suffice for a Starbucks grande soy latte.

But, what made me pay extra attention to this putt-putt-mobile was the fact that the polo wearing Italian man in the driver seat was blaring the Notorious B.I.G., Hypnotize. The ultra metro-sexual man with a tailored hair-do and a car for elves was nodding his head to the lyrics:

I put hoes in NY onto DKNY (uh-huh)

Miami, D.C. prefer Versace (that’s right)

The whole scene didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. As the little walk man turned green and I hopped back into my run, I was left thinking about the hodgepodge of culture clash I had just witnessed. In fact, numerous things in Italy don’t seem to fit, per say. For instance, a lot of women here have fake boobs. Many boobs fail to fit into shirts. The streets here are often only 10 feet wide; ill equipped for a mass of American tourism. The appliances here are fit for a child’s playhouse, making it impossible to broil a Thanksgiving bird.

Ultimately, my emersion into Italian culture leaves me feeling immensely awkward; cocking my head a bit to the left and uttering a faint “huh….”. The union of American commercial life and Roman ruins sometimes appear more clumsy than suave. (Then again, I am certain that I come off more gawky than international). For the time being, I think I’ll leave my contemplation of Amero-Roman absurdity to my time spent in tennis shoes and ear buds. For whatever reason, everything feels a little bit simpler when I can look a passerby Italian with a smile and a nod, recognizing that running brings us no barrier.

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