While I am not doing an internship and cannot speak directly to the work environment in Italy, the past few months have still been full of learning experiences. Two key soft skills I have strengthened during my time abroad are time management and communication. As you can imagine, there is so much to do in Florence! While I have to be efficient and get all my work done, I would still much rather spend my days exploring the city instead of camping out at the library. I have gotten a lot better at balancing my work time by keeping a regular schedule, and even combining study time with exploring. When the weather is nice, I spend my afternoons in Piazza Santo Spirito or the Giardino Delle Rose, doing my homework or writing my essays.
Second, communication is an incredibly important skill I continue to improve upon. There are different expectations for what counts as communication here than in the United States. For example, my professors here expect an email response to each canvas announcement from every student to ensure they have read it and understand. Even when wandering through shops, it is customary to greet the worker upon entry and exit. In a more technical sense, being away from friends, family, and coworkers has forced me to be better about keeping in touch. Whether that be sending pictures to my grandparents, group calling friends, or emailing my internship boss at home, I have had no other option than to improve my communication skills!
Some hard skills I have developed are more specific, such as Italian. Through Pitt’s Italian 101 course and cultural immersion, I have been able to develop a fairly solid foundation for the language for a beginner. This is a huge help when interacting with locals. Even though most people I have spoken with speak English, they really appreciate when students attempt to talk to them in Italian. I may not be able to understand every cultural nuance or fast-spoken phrase, but after 3 months I feel completely comfortable communicating with those around me. It is incredibly important to treat yourself as a temporary local Florentine, rather than a long-term tourist. This allows you to better immerse yourself in the community and get the most out of your experience.