I am officially half way through my program and although I have faced some struggles, I have learned so much about myself and have grown in ways I couldn’t even imagine before getting here!
To discuss some of my struggles, I think two of the parts of Italy’s culture that I am struggling to assimilate with are the non-specific instructions and the attire. In the US, every professor and supervisor I have had has given me very explicit instructions for projects and assignments. However, here in Italy the instructions are often vague and I must figure out how to complete the task on my own. Oftentimes I can usually figure it out myself with a bit of creativity, however I have had to ask my professors and supervisor for extra clarity or feedback at times. Additionally, the everyday attire is also very different here in Italy compared to the US. In the US I wore very comfortable lounge clothes to class and to run my daily errands. However, in Italy it is a cultural norm to always be very dressed up. Even if I am just going to the grocery store, it is normal to go in a dressy outfit instead of a sweatshirt and sweatpants. This sounds like such a silly thing, but since it is a big difference from the US I have found it a bit challenging. I do enjoy dressing up, but sometimes if I am having a hard day or week it can be a little draining. An easy thing I have done to combat this is picking out my outfit the night before, so that way it is easy, quick, and effortless to put on an outfit that looks dressy in the mornings.
A big challenge I have faced in general is time management. With taking classes, having an internship, wanting to travel, and wanting to stay in touch with friends and family back home it can be very hard to find time in my schedule for everything. My days are very busy and seem to go by very quickly. Additionally, the time difference between Italy and the US can cause difficulty when trying to talk to my friends and family. Some things I have done to combat this is adding everything to my google calendar, including time blocks to work on my independent work from my internship and any assignments and readings from my classes. I also take advantage of the time difference in the mornings because it makes it easier for me to be very productive and get a lot done while having minimal distractions on my phone!
Adjusting to being on my own for the first time has been one of the most difficult parts. My hometown is only half an hour from Pitt, so I usually see my family at least once a week and have lived with my best friend the past two years. It has been a big adjustment to not always have someone I am super comfortable with around me and always have someone to do everything with. However, being on my own has greatly increased my independence which is one of my biggest goals of this semester!
Navigating Florence was a bit difficult at first because many streets look similar and the city can be very confusing even though it is decently small. However, the more I walked around the city, the more I got familiar and comfortable with it. I have aimlessly walked around and got myself home several times, with a few fails and saves from google maps of course! Additionally, I have started to figure out the public transportation here such as the bus and tram system, which will be very helpful the next time I need to go to the airport. The photo on this blog is from Fiesole, a small town that overlooks the Florence city center. This was from my first time successfully using public transportation here!
I have been learning and growing everyday so I am extremely thankful for this life changing experience!