When studying abroad in a new culture, there are bound to be challenges and uncomfortable changes. In Italy, a big cultural challenge for me was adapting to the shorter hours of operation at stores and restaurants. In the U.S., I’m used to being able to eat at any time of the day or night, or stop in a convenience store whenever it fits into my schedule. It’s also interesting adjusting to a city with an older population. Compared to the U.S., Italy has a significantly older population which affects a lot of the cultural norms. Different preferences in TV channels, food products, more pharmacies, slower pace on the streets, etc. While it’s not a major challenge, it has also been a change to hang up my clothes to dry, as opposed to putting them in the dryer. Most homes in Italy do not have a dryer, and clothes are hung inside or outside on the balcony. This adds an extra step in preparing for the week ahead.
Overall, I have not had much trouble assimilating into Italian culture, and I’ve learned to enjoy the experience. I learned that locals are not necessarily “rude” at all, and instead have REAL lives with places to be and things to do that are often interrupted by tourists. I’ve learned that as I’ve assimilated into the local life myself and started to develop similar habits and attitudes. Treating locals with respect and making efforts to speak in Italian have also gone a long way in making my experience more enjoyable and authentic. Living alone in Italy has been a huge step for my independence, and has not been as challenging as I thought it would be. If anything, it has allowed me to explore my individuality and grow as a person. I already chose to study in a different state by myself for college, so moving to another country wasn’t much scarier. That is not to say that I haven’t run into any challenges along the way. Stepping out of my comfort zone was obviously very uncomfortable at first, but that is all part of the process. I am definitely proud of my efforts, courage, and determination throughout this experience so far.
As for internship challenges, I do not have an internship on study abroad, but I have heard from friends that interning abroad can have its challenges. Internships I’ve seen in Italy often come with various assignments and goals that surpass the initial idea of the internship experience. Challenges and cultural adjustments are opportunities to grow, and I’m grateful for those opportunities abroad.
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