Nicolas Torrens: Miami as Text 2023

Nicolas at Snowbird ski resort in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo by Nicolas Torrens/CC BY 4.0)

Nicolas Torrens is a junior at Florida International University pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science with a minor in Psychology. Seeing technology as the culmination of humanity’s knowledge across all disciplines, he wants to use his eventual expertise for the improvement of the human condition, with particular interest in neuroscience and psychology. His hobbies include the consumption of media resulting from creative expression; books, movies, music; and activities that get him moving; exercise, sports, exploration of nature.

Encounter as Text

The School of Athens by Raphael

As I continue my boundless journey of self-exploration, I find myself thinking constantly about how I got to where I am. Not just in the small scale —where my parents met or where they decided to settle down— but in the anthropological sense. Why are our education systems designed the way they are? Who decided that the current government system is the most optimal way? How did the fundamental aspects of my religion develop? History is an endless compounding of human innovation, leading up to this point. I am always amazed at the accomplishments of the great scientists and artists from the past, who without them, my reality would be completely different. Our current civilization can be said to be the summation of all their efforts.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite painting has been “The School of Athens” by Raphael. I was captivated by all the great figures, each of them having a rich history that I would read about in my spare time. The painting is definitely what I’m most looking forward to seeing. To actually see the painting in person instead of on a monitor will feel unreal. As I delved more into art history, Italy gained this allure of mysticism. The seat of one of the greatest empires ever, Rome, systems to optimize human connection was developed, which has influenced the governments worldwide. The epicenter of the Renaissance, ingenuity was demanded, but beauty was also required. The religion that I was born into, Catholicism, has the heights of its expression in Italy. I grew up very religious so going to Vatican City will connect me to my history. So many aspects of my upbringing seem to find its origins in Italy. It’s as they say, “all roads lead to Rome”.

I feel this kinship with Italy while never having been there, and I do admit that my understanding of its history is rather shallow. This class provides me with the perfect opportunity to really get immersed with the history and the culture. I am beyond excited at this opportunity, realizing how special it is to be able to spend a month in a foreign country, with a knowledgeable guide to show me around areas I would not know about otherwise and a group of students who also share the same love for new experiences. At the same time, I am nervous about my abilities to be on my own. Being a commuter to college, I haven’t needed to live on my own, especially not in a different country. How will I fare with the language differences? What will I be eating (cooking being one of my weakest areas)? Will I get lonely being far from home for such a long time? I haven’t tested myself to this extent, but I am optimistic, planning on staying for a few weeks after the program ends in Europe, to travel around and visit the many other historically dense countries. I never know when I’ll be in Europe again.

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