Growing From Change

Studying abroad in Florence has been a transformative experience which has allowed me to immerse myself into a new culture, learn a new language and gain a unique perspective on the world. While Italian culture is rich and rewarding, it has also been quite challenging to assimilate with certain aspects of it. Adapting to their cultural norms and customs has definitely required much patience, flexibility and an open mind.

Living in Florence for two months now I have particularly struggled with adjusting to the slower pace of life that Italians embrace. Unlike American culture, they tend to savor living in the moment and spending time with family and friends is a much higher priority. Growing up in America I am very used to a fast-paced and rushed lifestyle. I constantly find myself awkwardly trying to pass people on the sidewalk and being impatient with the long lines at the grocery store. Also dining is a much slower and a more relaxed experience as waiters are not rushing to take your order or bring you the check. Instead you must wave them down which is something I found to be a little outside my comfort zone at first. Overall I am constantly trying to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the little moments in my day. I hope incorporate a sense of this slower pace of life back into my lifestyle when I return home as it has given me the chance to appreciate the smaller parts of my day that I usually rush through.

Another adjustment I have had to make while living abroad is my style of clothing. At Pitt you can quickly notice that the average student is dressed in sweats or athletic wear. However in Florence these types of clothes are only worn when working out. Italians seem to take much more pride in their appearance whether you have class or just need to stop by the grocery store. 

Despite these challenges and adjustments I have found that navigating life in Italy has been a valuable learning experience. To adapt to the cultural differences, I have tried to embrace a spirit of openness and curiosity, seeking out opportunities to learn from locals and immerse myself into the culture. I have also found that building a community of fellow study abroad students has been a helpful way to navigate the challenges of living in a foreign country. Overall I am very grateful for this experience and for the impacts it has had on me.