What I Know Now: Italy Edition
Written by Emily March 23, 2016
Don’t get me wrong, integrating into a new culture and learning to adapt to new way of doing things is exciting, entertaining, and provides valuable learning experiences. With that said, there are definitely some things I wish I would have known before departing on my semester abroad. I’ve tried my hardest along the way to remember these little details about Italian life that will (hopefully) make your transition to CIMBA smooth and easy to plan for.
- Here at CIMBA, classes, dining, and living are all located in the same building. Choosing your shoewear based on this knowledge is important. Not that I suggest wearing actual slippers to class, but moccasins or comfy slip-on shoes work well for catching a meal or running downstairs to class. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are things I wish I had more of, since you will typically not be leaving the building during the day. People generally dress the same here for class as at home, so leave plenty of packing room for your leggings and sweatshirts!
- Your second home will be by the 40-cent espresso vending machine. I’ll save you some caffeine withdrawals the first week here by filling you in now on the café vending machine located in the basement. To the right of the cafeteria, you’ll find a machine that serves several variations of coffee-based drinks at the click of a button. Espresso is 40 cents, with the “fancier” drinks costing 50 cents. It’s quick enough to visit during class breaks, and trust me, it will most likely save your life.
- You may or may not get used to the slower pace of life here. There are days when I love the relaxed pace of life in Italy and there are days it frustrates me to no end. There isn’t a sense of urgency connected to everything like there is in the US and there are pros and cons to that. For example, if you want something fixed in Italy, it typically takes upwards of a month. There’s just a relaxed sense of urgency to completing tasks. Some people quickly drift into this lifestyle and find it refreshing, while others struggle to adapt to it a bit more.
- There isn’t the same sense of convenience in Italy as there is in the US. Stores generally don’t have set-in-stone open and close times, but rather operate on their own schedule, differing daily. Additionally, towns in Italy virtually shut down between the hours of 1:30-3:30pm for siesta. This is generally a time where families head home to eat lunch and spend time together. This is in opposition to the US, where being in walking distance of a 24-hour convenience store is the norm.
- Doors open and close the opposite way. This one will get ya for at least the first week. Where you are used to pushing doors open at home, you pull in Italy, and vice versa. Don’t worry about this too much. It’s week nine and I still do this at least once a day (and only get weird looks about half the time…oh well).
- Dates are written opposite. In the US, we write the month, then day, then year. For example, January third would be written 1/3/16. In Italy, switch the month and date, so January third would be written 3/1/16. Remember to keep this in mind when you’re booking tickets to save some embarrassment.
Ultimately, the differences you experience here in Italy is why I love this experience. It’s what keeps everyday here exciting, as each new experience is a learning opportunity. I’m sure between all of us CIMBians we could make a list about a mile long, but most things you’ll pick up and learn along the way.
Happy adventuring—ciao for now!