January, 1985 the classroom on the University of Dallas Rome campus, 100 or so students, mostly sophomores, listened as Dr. Fougerousse told us that one of our Lit Trad IV assignments was to keep a journal of the semester. Now I don’t remember an audible groan, but I know we were all thinking, “Ugh! really?” Little did we know that would be the most memorable assignment and the best souvenir of a semester abroad.
Of course, I’m sure he was hoping we’d write about beautiful cathedrals and castles, maybe an entry or two about some ancient ruin, or even a play we read or the feelings we had standing in the Theater of Epidaurus. But that’s not the case, at least not for me and most friends I’ve talked to. We wrote about the best gelato shop (near the Pantheon), pastries (we wanted to write a book called Europe on 25 Pastries a Day), and the ‘pasta egg’ soup we had in Assisi (any spring 85 Romers reading this will totally get that!). We wrote about sleeping on trains, walking til our feet hurt, and living on bread, cheese, and wine so we didn’t waste money on food. We wrote like the 19 year-olds we were.
Last fall we celebrated our 25th college reunion (yes, I’m that old!), and I can’t tell you how many of us pulled out those journals or how many conversations started with, “do you remember that time in Rome when…” I knew then that Foug had given us a priceless gift, even though none of us realized it then.
When I decided to take S and C to Europe this summer, I knew they needed to journal; of course my digital native children wanted more than a small blue binder, so I set up blogs for each of them. I love reading their daily reflections, and I have to laugh at how differently they see things. They seem to be enjoying it more than I did my Rome journal, maybe because they have an audience, or maybe they know it’s too much to remember if they don’t. Either way, I think it’s pretty cool, and I can’t help but think I should credit Dr. Fougerousse for making me realize the value of keeping track of one’s adventures.
So, thank you, Dr. Fougerousse for making me keep that journal. My kids thank you, too.