It has been a little over a month that I have now lived in Arezzo, Italy! I have learned so much since we talked last and still have so many questions. Since then I have travelled to more places, experienced more of the Italian culture through food and people, and dove a little deeper into my internship with Arezzo Intour. With all the knowledge I have already gained within these last few weeks, I am ready to take on the next month!
Coming this far away from home, I was very prepared to feel homesick and miss the people that I usually would see everyday. Being someone that has never travelled to Europe, I knew the adjustment to the culture would be a challenge that I would have to overcome. There are four phases of Cultural Adjustment and I expect myself to experience each phase as listed:
- The Honeymoon
- Culture Shock
- Gradual Adjustment
- “Feeling at Home”
The Honeymoon phase has lasted a lot longer than I was anticipating. With how close I am to my family and friends in the U.S., I just knew that I was going to miss them with me being gone for 4 months. I have gone back and forth with the Honeymoon phase and Culture Shock phase because there is still so much that excites me, but there are also times I find myself feeling stressed about simple things. I am excited for when the Gradual Adjustment phase sets in because I came abroad to learn more about different cultures and want to change my outlook on the world that I am living in.
Language & Identity
There are over 5000 different languages that exist in today’s world. There is a term called Lingua Franca which is a common means of communication for speakers of different first languages. What I wish for most, living in Italy, is that I could speak Italian to better communicate with people around me. I have learned that many young Italians learn more than one language while in school. English is a common Lingua Franca and I notice that amongst the people living in Arezzo, as well as the people within my internship, they know at least a little English which amazes me. I wish that I challenged myself more in high school and college to learn another language because it is so valuable.
What really interests me is the Italian Gesticulation; the gestures that are passed down by Italian generations. I did not realize the gestures that a lot of Italians do until recently and now I pay more attention to when I am communicating with someone from Italy. I plan to learn some gestures to hopefully make up for my poor Italian speaking skills (which hopefully gets better too!) Arezzo Intour is definitely helping me get out of my comfort zone with learning about the differences in the work environment. Speaking with my supervisor is sometimes a challenge, so by learning more gestures and learning the ones that he uses would help improve the way we communicate.
Idiomatic Expressions & Proverbs
There are idiomatic expressions and proverbs that exist in every culture and it is interesting to recognize that a lot of them are not as different as our own. I really enjoy learning little sayings such as these to better understand the everyday experiences that someone in Italy faces. Listed is a proverb and an idiomatic expression that I found interesting:
Proverb: “Chi dorm non piglia pesci” which translates to “The early bird gets the worm” in the English.
Idiomatic Expression: “In bocca al lupo” which translates to “Good luck/Break a leg” in English.
It is crazy how similar cultures can really be when you are learning about them first hand and truly experiencing the culture in person. So many people believe that everyone is so different but there are so many beliefs and cultures that live in this world that the differences start to not be as significant.