Many people, when they travel abroad, seek out souvenirs such as key chains, t-shirts, photo frames and, of course, the notorious shot glasses. Unlike any other tourist, I sought out a souvenir that not only would last the wear and tear of life, but that would stick with me, literally, forever. While in Bologna, Italy, I got a tattoo.
I wasn’t the only one in my study abroad group that decided, on a whim rather, to seek out an Italian tattoo parlor with an English-speaking owner and spend our last few Euros on some new ink. For some, it was their first taste of the inked life. Two of the four of us who danced on the wild side were getting tattooed for the first time, a dear beloved soon-to-be sorority sister and the mom of our group, who was so cute and timid when it came to actually deciding and committing to getting a tattoo.
There is something so idiotically true about getting a tattoo in a foreign country: a piece of that place will always be with you. When I first brought up the idea of getting a tattoo, a quote at that in English, I was greeted with looks of not only confusion but looks of terror. Several people thought I was crazy for wanting to spend my last few Euros on a quote tattoo, a quote that would be, to the Italian tattoo artist that I was assigned to, in a foreign language. Yeah, it was a pretty daring idea. But then, how cool is it to say that you got a tattoo while studying abroad?
The tattoo parlor in which we chose was sort of shady, yet elegantly professional. Close to 30 plaques and awards hung on the wall, ranging in languages and superiority. The owner himself spoke broken English, his other employees heavily relying on hand gestures and vivid pointing to communicate what we wanted done. It truly was an experience that neither of us will forget, trying to communicate what we wanted done, how much it would cost and then silently fearing if we would survive the trip after he lead us down into the basement of the parlor to a large open area lined with beds. Nothing more could of screamed risky; “Jaws” theme music could have been booming in the background and we wouldn’t have stopped trudging down the tattered wooden steps into the decked out basement of a foreign tattoo parlor. If you thought local tattoo parlors were sketchy, then this place was somewhat sketchy yet classy in its own funky way.
Besides the painful headaches of wanting and looking for another reason to get a tattoo, there were other underlying reasons to justify my last European expense.
The quote itself is part of a Johnny Depp, Jack Sparrow quote from “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. The entire quote reads, “Tis is either madness or brilliance. It’s remarkable how often those two traits coincide.” Due to the language barrier and the length of the quote, I decided to just stick with the first sentence of the quote for my tattoo, which is located right on top of my rip cage. Honestly, the quote fits perfectly with the spontaneous decision to study abroad, with my now uncanny desire to travel and to explore the world through the eyes of a journalist. It was either madness or brilliance that I decided to get a tattoo in Italy; it was brilliantly mad.