Caitlyn Ratto: Miami as Text 2023


Caitlyn Ratto volunteering at Baptist Hospital (Photo by Caitlyn Ratto/ CC by 4.0)

Caitlyn Ratto is a third year student in the pre-medicine track in the Biology major at Florida International University. She will be the first in her family to go to graduate school, and wants to specialize in orthopedic surgery. Both her father and mother have been involved in the medical field, but there has never been a doctor in the family. Her family is originally from Genoa, Italy so she wants to see where her great-grandfather lived before he immigrated to Peru in the early 20th century.

Encounter as Text

Image by Gianluca from Pixabay
5,000 Miles by Caitlyn Ratto of FIU at Miami, January 22, 2023

When I first heard about the honors study abroad program, I was initially interested in two destinations. I finally decided on the Italia program because I discovered that my great-grandfather was born in Genova in 1888 and moved to Peru after he got married.

I have traveled to Peru many times, but I haven’t visited Europe, let alone Italy so I thought that this would be a great way to see where my family is from and how it has changed along the way. I would also like to see how different Europe is to North and South America. This will also be my first time traveling without my family so I am pretty nervous about flying and the language barrier. I’m used to my dad speaking Spanish while my family and I were in Peru and the Dominican Republic so I have never really applied a lot of thought whilst traveling.

For this trip I know that I will be one hundred percent alert, and this means that I will probably get exhausted quickly. In order to combat this, I have been practicing Italian since I got accepted into the program, and I have also watched a couple of Italian movies and shows. I know that this isn’t enough but I hope that with the continued practice I might be able to get by without any problems. 

Through this program, I hope that I will be able to grow as a person. Right now I am living on campus with my puppy, Bowie, and I have learned a lot about self-management and how to take care of others. I also know that traveling to a country that I haven’t visited yet is extremely different and it will be a learning experience. I hope to be able to learn how to interact with people regardless of the language barrier and I hope to grow into a more cultured person. Some small obstacles I hope to overcome are flying by myself, finding a hotel room in another country, and coming up with my own plans for the free days. After the trip, I hope to gain some confidence in myself because just the fact that I am going is out of my comfort zone so if anything I have done something that most people will never be able to do. I would also like to learn how to rely on other people because it would be extremely hard to do everything by myself, so I have to be make friendships in this class. This will be different from my first 2 years in college because all of my classes had about two hundred people so I haven’t reached out to any of my classmates in a while. I am very nervous, but absolutely excited about meeting new people, going to new places, and eating new food! 

Step 1: Make a friend and schedule a flight together 

Step 2: Practice Italian 

Step 3: Fly to Italy 

Step 4: Have the experience of a lifetime! 

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