(photo from the Amalfi Coast)


Over the course of these weeks, our Italian speaking has improved so much. Speaking with locals and in class has become a lot easier. This being said, there is still some struggles with the language barrier from time to time considering we are not fluent.

At the beginning of the trip, ordering from restaurants or asking for directions was a little intimidating. As time passed, we got more confident and eventually had no problem doing these types of things. Even though we got better at the simple things. There were still language barriers along the way.

The biggest language barrier we experienced with the Italian language was when we traveled to different areas. The dialects in different parts of Italy are so different from one another. Way stronger than different forms of English in the United States. There is the language of Italian that we have been studying, but there are also dialects such as Florentine, Napoletano, Romanesco, and more.

The other students and I had been improving at understanding what the local people of Rome were saying. We felt pretty confident in our language skills. One weekend we took a trip to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. We met some locals and they were speaking Napoletano. We could not understand a single word that they were saying. Although they were Italian and living in Italy, it was as if we had been studying a completely different language than what they were speaking.

When I had told one of my Italian professors about this experience, he explained that even Italians have a hard time understanding the different dialects. I found this so interesting. In the US, people in different places use different words for different things, but you can still understand what they are saying. It is crazy that the dialects are so different that even native speakers can’t understand a lot.

I love being able to learn about the Italian language. It is so different than what I am used to. At the University of Pittsburgh, I will take Italian more classes so that I can continue to learn. Living in Italy has taught me so much and I can’t wait to continue my studies in Pittsburgh!

-Shannon O’Brien