Learning and Living in Italian Culture

Submitted by Elliana Olivo on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Visiting a pasta market in Rome

Last week while traveling to Southern France, the airlines warned us of potential strikes in the areas around Paris. Fortunately, we were able to avoid any major repercussions of the strike but our flight from Rome to Nice was delayed. Paris transportation was put on strike however and some citizens were seen throwing garbage around the airport and major train stations. This incident reminded me of the constant Roman strikes on transportation we have dealt with this semester. Every other week or so, the buses stop running at random times or don’t go to certain areas of the city. Usually, John Cabot University has been able to warn us on such occasions but it is never consistent. Personally, I have never experienced any strikes living on the east coast of the U.S. except for one strike on the education system in regards to teaching salaries. Speaking of transportation, the bus system in Rome was hard to navigate at first. With the language barrier as well as, last of places to purchase tickets walking was our best option. Fortunately with the help of our University we were able to figure out tips and tricks to getting around the city. Apple Maps has been a huge lifesaver when it comes to finding out which bus to take for different locations and what times they will come. Unfortunately, they are not updated when strikes occur but other than that they are quick to catch delays and show different routes to any destination in most of Europe’s major cities. (Submitted on March 28, 2023)

With only a few weeks left of studying abroad living within the culture of the Italians before we go back to the American lifestyle. One of my roommates came to Rome to visit me this week and as we were talking about the abroad lifestyle we compared our cultural experiences of Spain and Italy to America. For me in Italy when I first got here it took a little getting used to with the slower culture and different daily habits that I picked up from the locals. For instance, when they get coffee in the morning it isn’t the to-go experience that is typical in the U.S. many Romans like to stand by the bar or sit outside with their espresso or cappuccino with a light pastry for breakfast. My friend Katie and I said we would try to bring back some of the European lifestyle with us back home such as a slow morning before school or dressing up for outings other than special occasions. Another habit we picked up on were the Europeans eating habits and food shopping. Rather than shopping for a week’s worth of food like in America they focus on fresh foods at daily markets or specific vendors for different types of foods. During my time here I have noticed I go to the food market either daily or every other day to stock up on groceries. The vegetables also go bad much quicker here with less preservatives. Thankfully, they have less options for unhealthy snacks therefore I have been eating cleaner with my home cooked meals. The fresh foods and smaller portions also have had a different impact on my body with less stomach aches and the feelings of being satiated not overly full. (Submitted on April 5, 2023)

Reconnecting with family in L’Aquila

My family tree has expanded this week. My grandmother flew to Rome this past week to visit me and to share her hometown in L’Aquila. Just a short bus ride away, her small town in Abruzzi soon became my home for the weekend. My distant cousins and relatives accepted us into their home with no hesitation. The hospitality was unlike any other I have experienced in the past. Food was constantly brought out, conversation was ever flowing and the smiles never stopped. Even with the slight language barrier, my little knowledge of the Italian language and my grandmother’s translations allowed us to get to know each other in the short amount of time I had in the small town. When I first knew I was going to live in Rome for a semester I had asked my grandmother to come visit me so we could travel together to the place where she grew up before she moved to America. Once the plan was finalized I was a bit nervous to meet new people that I wasn’t familiar with and have a completely different lifestyle from what my grandmother and I experienced in the United States. Although we did have our differences it was so fulfilling to teach one another of our culture and daily customs. Some examples that we shared were the family gathering after church for pasta and lamb on Easter Sunday. We differed in a way with our house structures and daily lifestyle however. The town they live in was so small and was up in the mountains of L’Aquila. (Submitted on April 11, 2023)