Culture Shock #1

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

culture shock: (noun) the feeling of disorientation experienced by someone when they are suddenly subjected to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of attitudes.

Culture shock is a real thing. American culture is not Italian culture or European culture, and there’s nothing that can change that. There are 46 Marist freshmen studying in Florence this year, and we’re all handling culture shock differently. Some miss their daily dose of Starbucks, whereas others have a hard time living with Italian wifi. Although dealing with culture shock can be stressful, it’s all a part of the study abroad experience. Therefore, I find it normal and intriguing.

I plan on blogging about the culture shocks I encounter on a fairly regular basis. The first one I want to write about is: pace. The pace in Italy is a lot slower than it is in America. People walk slowly, eat slowly, take breaks often (siesta occurs every day in most places that aren’t in urban areas), and overall live life at a slower pace. This has taken all of us some time to get used to. For example, when my flatmates and I went out to dinner at a Greek restaurant down the street, we spent nearly two full hours there. In Europe, it’s expected for people to spend hours at the dinner table talking and enjoying each other’s company. Unlike America, people aren’t glued to their phones at the dinner table. People in America also expect to get the check right after finishing their meals. We had to ask for the check half an hour after finishing our dinners.

On another note, us students rush to class 90% of the time. We often find ourselves stuck behind slow, Italian walkers who are out and about on a stroll rather than a half-jog like us trying to get to class on time. We typically have to scoot around them, throwing in a “scuza” if we can.

This slower pace of life is inspiring. It reminds me not to rush through life because for the time being, life is still here. There’s no reason to be on high speed all the time. I find myself appreciating the city streets and the world in general more when I slow down. A common Italian phrase is “piano piano” which means “slowly slowly.” So when things seem hectic and overwhelming, remember: piano piano. xo ~e.

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One thought on “Culture Shock #1

  1. Nana says:

    Very interesting observation Emma. Now you see why I’ve always been the last person to finish dinner. It’s all about culture.

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