When I was abroad last semester, one of things I missed most was the sound of English. Italian is absolutely beautiful, that’s undeniable. But I craved the sound of my own language; the pre-flight announcements on the British Airways flight I took to London for spring break was like music to my ears. While I spoke English with my classmates all the time, I missed hearing it on the street, on the train- I missed understanding the conversations occurring around me.
One of the highlights of my mornings was hearing English from the most unlikely of sources- a colorful, energetic subway performer. As I’d walk from my train down a long, winding tunnel that eventually dumped me out onto the Piazza Flaminio, I’d hear his jazzy keyboard and growling, Louis Armstrong voice growing louder as I journeyed onward. Eventually his thin, dark figure would appear, swaying with the beat as he flashed a brilliant white smile to everyone who passed by. Some mornings he’d sing a funky version of “Georgia On My Mind.” Some days he’d go with a drawling, soaring “and I’m eeeeeeeeeeeeeeasyyyyyyyyyy…..I’m easy like Sunday morning.” The most unexpected, un-Italian cover- and my personal favorite- was “Country Roads.” And just like that– I’d be home. I’d be walking down the Green to class or climbing the front steps to my front door or walking from our beach house to the back bay. The power words have to transport you, mind and spirit, from one place and experience to another, instantaneously, is astounding. When I was homesick, hearing John Denver’s words come out of that Italian stranger’s mouth was just the remedy I needed.
– Mary Kate