Indiana University Overseas Study

Erik Trautman

I’ve been thinking about home. It’s a bit of a fuzzy idea for me, something I can’t quite pin down on a map. I remember three houses I lived in with my family. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah but what I remember of it is skewed since I moved when I was seven (still nearly a third of my life). We went back as a family for spring break last year, the last year before my brother went to Colorado and I set off for Bologna.

I’ve lived in Indiana for fifteen years, those years that really determine who you are. Marvelous and ugly memories surface when I think of Indiana, but that’s true most everywhere you’ve called home. When I returned to Utah I felt at home amongst the snow-topped mountains and red desert rocks. It’s environmentally where I want to be, however, there are things that draw me back to Indiana: friends, family, and comfortable living. Most recently, Bologna has been my home, but I adopted different home this week, Cassano delle Murge, Puglia.


Nearby Matera has been named the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Numerous films have been filmed here, including Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”

Cassano is a small town in the periphery of Bari. I didn’t ever plan on seeing it but I was visiting a close friend. Small towns are the root to Italy’s charm. Aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and cousins all lived close together, many on the same hillside, some in the same apartment building. Their Italian was freckled with a dialect that sounded more Russian than Italian. The strawberries were wild and picked that morning from the countryside. Those miniature berries packed more flavor than any strawberry I’ve ever had. Every relative had a cherry tree growing in their yard. I ate focaccia made by my friend’s grandmother, the recipe for which has been passed down through generations. What made this place home for her were family and tradition, a different way of eating, and a different way of speaking.

My friend’s mother teaches dance to a class of seniors called “danze del popolo,” dances of the people. They performed three dances from around the world: Greece, Brittany, and Armenia. Before the first dance she explained that Greeks who have immigrated throughout the world may no longer know how to speak Greek but many still know this antique dance. They brought a piece of home along with them as they searched for better lives.

danze del popolo

Danze del Popolo

danze del popolo

Danze del Popolo

What is home then? Is it the location of your family or a traditional way of doing things like cooking or dancing? These are manifestations of home but during my stay I’ve come to realize home is a state of mind. Home is comfort and familiarity and you can create that state in any part of the world, home is in your head. I’m not sure where my home will be three months from now, but wherever I end up I hope to take home with me.

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