Ken in Rome: Two things can be true at once

New column following Kennedy Bustos’ experiences in Urbino, Italy


Photograph courtesy of Tristan Elizabeth Howard.

Kennedy Bustos, Staff Writer

Kennedy Bustos is participating in UTSA’s“COLFA Semester in Urbino” program. She’ll be spending the semester in Urbino, Italy. She is thrilled to document her adventures in an exclusive column for The Paisano—her home away from home. Follow her journey @keninrome on Instagram.


“Two things can be true at once.” My beautiful friend bestowed this wisdom upon me months ago, and the sage advice has stuck with me; embedding itself deep within my soul. I think about it often, and it comforts me, validating what I know now to be true — that it’s okay to contradict yourself, it’s valid to long for something, someone, someplace you left behind. 

I’ve settled myself into a routine here in Italy. I spend the mornings with my coffee and my thoughts, savoring the bitterness as I read and write while entering into other worlds, diving deeper into my own.

I’ll be living in Italy for three months — living in, arguably, the most beautiful country in the world. Specifically, I’ll be living in Urbino, a historic beauty picturesque in its simplicity. I’ve already cemented myself as a local; the barista at my favorite coffee shop greets me with a grin while recounting my order each morning. (“Ciao! Due americani?”) This has been my dream for longer than I can remember: to spend time abroad, to have a barista memorize my order. It’s such a simple sentiment, yet the joy it has given me is almost too much to accurately articulate. I’m enjoying every second spent in this magical place: cherishing the bonds I’ve built with like-minded souls, capturing the memories for my future self to look back upon in kind remembrance.

And yet, and yet.

“Two things can be true at once.”

I crave the intimacy of embracing those back home; my family, my friends — my blood, my kin. I miss the serendipity inherent in spontaneity, exploring the city I’ve called home for half of my life as if I’m a foreigner. Ironic, isn’t it? Considering I’m a foreigner right here, right now. And yet, I miss discovering new places, new facets of myself, stacking memories one atop the other. Arriving home exhausted yet fulfilled, replaying the events of the day until I settle into a peaceful slumber. 

“I love you so much. I miss you dearly.” 

These words have become a mantra, a prayer. I repeat them every day to my family back home — the family I was given at birth, the family I’ve found along the way. These eight words are a broken record of sorts, carrying with them a unique beauty rooted in the rhythm. The words bleed with inexplicable truth, and isn’t it something? Our love can be true yesterday, true today, true tomorrow, yet grow to be even more “true” as each day passes?

Today I cried — alone in an Italian cafe, how romantic — tears spilling into my Americano as a song I hadn’t heard in years began to play on the radio. (Counting Stars by OneRepublic, for the curious.) I’ve always been fascinated by how music can carry memories, nostalgia hidden between the notes. I was instantly brought back to singing in the car with my mom, unabashed in our somewhat comical intensity, the radio as loud as the joy in our hearts.

“Two things can be true at once.” 

I have immense gratitude to be here in Italy, to call it home for a short time. I’m proud that I’ve made this experience happen entirely on my own, immortalizing my spirit in scholarships, fully funding my semester abroad. Can we take a moment to acknowledge the insanity that I’m quite literally being paid to live in Italy?

Many people will go their entire lives without experiencing the historical heaven of Italy. I get to spend three months here! I recognize the privilege I have to be here — I’m endlessly, indescribably thankful for this academic journey abroad. 

And yet, and yet.

I miss home. 

Who would’ve thought? “Two things can be true at once.”