Adapting to the Italian culture

Studying abroad In Florence is a dream come true for many American students, including myself. The opportunity to immerse oneself in a new culture and explore a different way of life is an experience that is both exciting and challenging. While my time here has been extremely rewarding, there have certainly been some difficulties in adapting to the new culture. 

One of the hardest parts of adapting to life in Italy has been the language barrier. Although I’m taking an Italian course and learning a lot, speaking in the classroom versus real life everyday situations is quite different. It’s more intimidating to say the wrong thing or mispronounce a word in public rather than with a teacher who expects it. It’s nice that most Italians here speak English, but you feel a sense of embarrassment in doing so. On the other hand, many of the locals our age don’t speak English at all, making it very difficult to actually converse and make friends with them. I have found that the best way to overcome this is to just keep practicing as much as possible, whether that be in the classroom or with locals. Just being able to have those little conversations feels like a huge victory. 

Another part of life in Florence that’s hard to assimilate/adapt to is the pace of life. In the United States, everything is extremely fast paced in the way people walk, eat meals, or just have conversation. In Italy, things are much more relaxed and slow moving. Meals are longer, conversations are more leisurely, and people take their time getting places. Overall, people seem much more relaxed here in Florence and I have grown to appreciate that. 

Adapting to not living close to home has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced yet. Back at Pitt, I’m only 25 minutes away from my parents. I love that because of the home cooked meals my mom brings me, the accessibility to my car, and just being able to see them more often than most kids get to see their parents. Moving halfway across the world has made me become more independent and skilled in a number of ways. I’m a much better traveler now than I ever was, as well as a more skilled chef, and better with my money management. In conclusion, being on my own has helped me grow as a person more than I could have ever imagined. 

Lastly, navigating Florence has been easier than I expected. In the first couple of weeks, all my roommates and I did was walk around to new places and see as much as we possibly could. By doing so, I developed a great sense of my surroundings and can recognize most of the streets and areas around the city. In exploring this wonderful city, I am truly experiencing this dream come true.