It’s hard to believe but I’m finally back in Brooklyn. After approximately four months in Rome I am back in the U.S. Although it has only been a few days I think I can confidently say that I won’t be experiencing any reverse culture shock. For all that Italy was filled with wonderful little differences the culture wasn’t wildly dissimilar from the U.S.
That isn’t to say it has been a totally smooth transition. For the first day back it felt odd to be speaking in English all the time. When I went to get my first chai tea latte in months, I completely blanked on the Starbucks sizing system and had to ask for a medium instead of a grande. Not to mention all of the baristas have changed. Some of the mailboxes have also been painted a different color. It’s all tiny details but without them I’m not sure whether I would even believe I’d been gone at all.
What is sad is how far away Italy feels. It’s odd to get to know a place the way you do when you have four months (both a lot and not at all) and then leave it—and likely not return for at least a couple years, if not (more likely) more. I’ve missed speaking Italian more than I would have expected. I’d underestimated how enjoyable it would be to learn and speak another language abroad. It was something that I’d thought would be interesting, and something I sought after studying in London but now that I’m back in the US I’m realizing how integral it was to my experience, and how it made Italy feel different and special.
It’s a bit of an odd note to end this blog on but the main purpose of this blog is to give other students an idea of what studying abroad is like, and to give them advice. So my advice is this: study somewhere where English isn’t the first language, if you can. Even if you don’t know a word of the language when you get there it is still rewarding to learn and practice a skill at the same time. I would also say make sure to plan out all of the places you want to go where you’re studying (I know I missed out on some places I’d wanted to go in Rome) and try and do something different every week!
I certainly would like to apply that goal to my life here, back in Brooklyn. Living abroad you are constantly alert for new experiences and new friends and just because I’m back in the U.S. I don’t want to lose this perspective. It is actually, I think, one of the most important things I’ve taken away from study abroad, aside from all of the wonderful friends and memories.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and I wish everyone luck on any travels they may soon undertake!
Arrivederci and in bocca al lupo!