One of the biggest challenges I have dealt with while living in Italy is communicating with locals who don’t know English very well. For example, recently I tried to buy an HDMI cable for my apartment. The store worker knew enough English to ask me what I wanted and handed me a cable. However, it ended up being a type of HDMI cable which didn’t work on my tv. When I went back to return the cable, it was a real struggle to explain to him why it didn’t work and why I needed another type. I ended up having to use google translate on my phone since I didn’t know how to explain the issue in Italian. I have realized that while most of the workers at restaurants and stores know a little bit of English to communicate important information with customers, things can get difficult when you have a very specific request or question which they don’t know how to answer in English. This can lead to having to use hand gestures to explain something or even having to use a translator app so that they clearly understand what you need. Therefore, communicating with Italians can be difficult at times but honestly, after almost two months here I haven’t had that many experiences where I struggled to communicate with them, so it isn’t that difficult to deal with.
Regarding the culture, one thing that I had to adjust to was the eating times in Italy. Here dinner is usually from 8-10pm, which is a little later than when I would usually eat at Pitt. Also, the Italian lifestyle is a lot slower than the American lifestyle. At restaurants it takes a lot longer to get your food and once you get your food waiters expect you to sit at the table for a long time and will only give you your bill when you ask for it. It is Italian culture to spend a couple of hours eating a meal at a restaurant. The workers at grocery stores also take their time with scanning items to make sure the customers get what they need. In Italy it is more important to make sure the customer is happy rather than rushing and potentially making a mistake. The people here also don’t walk very fast or drive too fast and just live a much slower paced life in all aspects. This slower lifestyle is definitely different from the fast-paced lifestyle I was used to but it’s still nice to get a break and to get more time to actually enjoy a walk through the streets of Florence or a good Italian meal with friends.
In Florence the main way to get around the city is by walking. One way I have become better at navigating Florence is by memorizing how to get back to my apartment from certain landmarks in Italy, such as the CAPA center, Piazza Della Repubblica, the Duomo, and the main train station (Santa Maria Novella). These are very central locations in Florence, so anytime I feel like I don’t know where I am, I just put one of these landmarks on google maps and once I’m there I can go back to my apartment on my own. Recently I have also realized that I don’t need to depend on google maps in Florence anymore, which means I’m truly becoming more acclimated to living in Florence!
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