So far, on my study abroad journey, I have been incredibly lucky because of the abundance of opportunities I have been given to interact with the locals. As this is a language-intensive program, I think that it is incredibly important to make an effort to practice Italian in conversation, particularly outside of the designated class time.
Because Genova is not a huge tourist destination, English-speakers are not always easy to find. This is a good thing in terms of forcing my classmates and myself to practice our Italian, but there have certainly been frustrating moments where it took a few minutes to accurately communicate what we want because we would not know the right words. However, a far more common frustrating occurrence is when a waiter or a cashier will assume that we do not speak Italian, and then continue to speak to us in English. Usually if I start to order in Italian, the waiter (or whomever I am speaking to) will respond in Italian. However, sometimes they will respond in English, even if I tell them that I would like to practice my Italian. Thankfully, this does not happen too often.
In addition to waiters and cashiers, the owners of the house that we are staying in only speak Italian, which provides another easy opportunity to practice. The owners of the house are incredibly patient, so if I have to take a minute to try and remember a word, or I can’t think of the right word but try to describe it, they will wait for me and then correct me if necessary.
Before I got here, I was genuinely worried that the language barrier would be a big problem, but I am genuinely proud of myself and how much my Italian has improved over the past few weeks.