Italy: Simple Things Became Challenging

Submitted by Dominique Devani on the 2022 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

My first couple of weeks in Rome have concluded and I feel as if I am finally starting to settle into a routine here. At first, I was experiencing an unexpected culture shock at the differences in my daily activities, such as grocery shopping and getting coffee in the mornings. It was exhausting having to put in so much effort navigating every interaction and experience I was having here. When I would order coffee, I would stand outside the coffee shop (called bars here) and translate everything I wanted to get, and still stumble over my words when ordering. When grocery shopping, I would bump into someone and forget how to say excuse me in Italian (scusi) and then revert to English.

I was exhausted and panicked that I would never catch on to these daily customs, but at some point, I began to subconsciously absorb the behaviors of the people around me. The terror that initially was the start of any excursion out of my apartment has turned into excitement at the new things I’ll get to experience.