Adapting to Life in Florence

There are a couple of things that are a part of the culture in Italy that I have had a hard time assimilating. First, there is the concept in Italy of “Bella Figura”, which I learned about in my cross-cultural psychology class, where the importance of how one looks and physical appearance is crucial to the everyday life of Italians. For example, they wouldn’t leave the house with wet hair or wear sweatpants to class. This has been a good cultural shift for me, mainly, as I wear a lot of my clothes now and try to dress well every day, but when I am running down to the Carrefour (little market near my apartment) in my pajamas, I feel a little judged. Another cultural shift is how slowly people walk. I grew up in New Jersey and spent a lot of time in New York City, so I am used to hustling where I am heading. But, in Florence, the pace is much slower and people are less rushed, an attribute I have found mainly nice except when I am about to be late for class, in which case my patience is a little thin. 

It has been difficult to adapt to some things more than others. First, there are no dryers, so my clothes are usually pretty stiff and not as nicely soft as I am used to. Living in such proximity to my roommates is new for me, as I have never shared a room before. It is out of my nature to be thinking how someone will perceive my bed or my area, and I have to make an effort to be quiet when I come in later or not to turn any lights on.    

It is very daunting to be in a new city on a different continent without my parents. I am completely responsible for a lot more things than I usually am, and it makes me miss my parents and the protection and guidance they provide. I am certainly starting to feel this more as time goes on, and it’s been maybe a month and a half since I have been in America and I miss them. It is a challenge, and yet a perfect way for me to adjust to what life will be like for me in a couple of years when I finish college and am really on my own. Navigating around Florence is not hard, but I know it is easy to be targeted as a tourist, so I try to remember routes and keep my phone in my pocket when I am using it for directions, only pulling it out when I need to. I miss the ease of driving and often dream about my car, but living in a primarily walking place is refreshing, and my step counts usually always beat 10,000. And I miss iced coffee, but I don’t miss the prices.