Off Campus

Living beyond limits

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When last year I came to college I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

I was carrying great hopes and prospectives regarding this brand new life, flirting with the idea of a more active educational system.

The thought of taking personal care and responsibility for my education was electrifying and I was definitely ready for an experimental, mindful and engaging learning experience. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to understand I would have been a patchwork doll all the same, pieced together with scraps of knowledge, which didn’t make any harmonious sense once assembled.

Living fast pace in Milan lifestyle hasn’t been much of a help; all I was seeing were students trying to anesthetize fears and anxieties with food, alcohol, romance and sex in an endless loop of frustration.

I felt physically drained in discovering that the majority of the community was in a state of emotional and spiritual bankruptcy, bounded by a horrifying belief system for which our value was inevitably associated to a grade: a persistent sense of inadequacy was about to come out and be counted in case of failing a performance.

I started recovering from the shocking truth of knowing nothing about myself (or what I wanted to do) in the same instant I realized I was not alone. There were plenty of threatened people my age, constantly searching out for balance and inspiration; eager for life, love and curiosity about the surrounding world: all underdeveloped topics in any of the manuals provided by the courses.

By talking with several students, it emerged that most of them were scared to death by the idea of expressing their opinion in front of the class, paralyzed by the possibility of saying something stupid or vaguely irrelevant. This could probably be one of the worst mistakes; it leads to a systematic repression of our inner source of creativity, without which it would be impossible to unlock the secret to succeed in university, but, most importantly, in life.

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What is truly needed nowadays is a whole shift in perception; starting from feeling, going through thinking and ending up with behaving, in order to accept the concept that, after all, doing things our way is not such a mad idea.

Feeling truly alive means expressing our gifts; no one can tell us we are not good enough, that the lifestyle we are craving for is out of stock.

Sometimes our ego works in many suspicious and vicious ways, we have a propensity to think and act as if the people along our path are competing against us for the final prize. The only way to reach a better compromise on the whole learning system is to abandon this antagonism in favor of a constructive dialogue, and maybe, someday, education will act more as a proponent of intelligence and freedom of thought, rather than its major obstacle.


Alessandra Pennuto


One comment
  1. Niesha

    Dear Alessandra,

    Thank you for your awesome testimony! Seek the truth, learn the truth and speak the truth.

    I am a New Zealander who has recently moved to Lugano to start a “new life”. I hope more Italians go to Australia and New Zealand to discover a sense of “freedom” to be their “true self”.

    Niesha Brown

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