Grandeur can often be unsettling when one does not take a moment to experience it from without. For the better part of the day, we entered and exited buildings whose majesty and age were unparalleled in my eyes. Our guide and instructor did a wonderful job encapsulating the essence of the architects’ thought processes and the job they fulfilled for generations of posterity. There was, for most sights, a blueprint for the scale, ornate nature, and composition. These attributes bombarded me and cast all my precepts awry when the Victor Emanuel Monument came into focus.
Such a sight was a sumptuous delight, yet I must confess a tad bit audacious at first. The gravity of what this monument signified was lost upon me at first. Mrs. Ruth told us this monument honored the man who unified Italy. My first impression was this surely was an important event, but such a marble monolith seemed overblown. I attempted to take myself out of the equation. This region enjoyed bouts of stability, but for around two millennia it was enmeshed in a cycle of factions and emperors jockeying for control. There was an increase in appreciation for the marble celebration I was looking at. I began to get the impression this structure was comparable to my study abroad experience.
Before I came to Italy, everyone I knew asked me why I felt the urge to study abroad. They postulated their own reasons. I asked myself as well. Sights like this monument exemplify the fervor and benefit of this study abroad program in Italy. These masterful monuments renew the challenge inward. I was forced to view this sight with my soul and not my eyes. Sweat and blisters happen. Getting lost happens. This magical gaze redefines human capability. One can puzzle his mind about the merit of such a structure, yet I feel a much more worthwhile endeavor would be to marvel at the sheer energy it perpetuates. I know this program is worth more than I will ever know because every day it challenges my assumptions about what I thought was possible. I know in my educational pursuits if I struggle to find contemporary motivators that I can but gaze centuries or even eras into the past to grasp for the grand resolve of the human condition. Sometimes greatness warrants no further explanation other than awe.