Learning the Florentine Culture

We have officially reached the second half of the abroad program and it feels so bittersweet. I have already learned so much about both myself as well as Italy and Italian culture. While it feels like second nature now, there have been many different aspects of life in culture in Italy that took some getting used to. 

Food culture is something that is very different between the US and Italy. Lots of food, like coffee, pasta, and pastries, are very affordable and sometimes only cost a few euros so it makes it much more accessible to pick up something on the go or eat out with friends. It came as a shock to me that it is important to plan meals around the times that restaurants are open as many close for lunch in the early afternoon and don’t open up again until the evening for dinner. Additionally, it is customary that Italians finish their meals completely as leaving leftovers is considered rude. While it took a few weeks to remember all of the “rules”, it now feels normal to plan meals around these eating times as it helps the day flow.  

Living in the city of Florence itself also took some getting used to. I have learned that Florence truly is a walkable city, so it will be days, or even weeks, that go by before I will take any other form of transportation. Taking that into consideration, it is normal to walk miles to classes or restaurants, so it is important to leave enough time beforehand to get places on time. 20-minute walks are starting to feel short! On the topic of transportation, it is also important to mention that Italian, and especially Florentine, drivers are pretty reckless. It isn’t unusual to walk down the middle of a street because of the small sidewalks, but it is important to pay attention to cars and bikes because they are not afraid of pedestrians!

Personally the biggest change I have had to adapt to is learning how to budget both my time and money effectively. There are so many amazing opportunities while studying abroad and it is so hard to pass up on some events, but I always make sure to check in with myself both financially, mentally, and physically to make sure I am ready to take on the opportunity before committing to it. It is important to remember that even amidst all of the chaos, it is necessary to take breaks and take some days for yourself to relax. Balancing school, traveling, socializing, and exploring Florence can be tricky at times so I always make sure to take breaks and not overwhelm myself. Especially after a long spring break, I will definitely be taking some time to relax this week before jumping back into all the city has to offer!