Indiana University Overseas Study

Culture Hooray

giuliana_adriana

My return to the United States after seven months in Italy was less of a culture shock and more of a culture “Hooray!” Being gone for so long had left me with an appreciation of small things I take for granted here—the bathrooms in stores, the lower prices of clothes, the regular-shaped folders, the shorter lectures, and the Thai restaurants.

Re-entrance

Re-entrance

In the ten days before school started, I was able to see my family as I went through a barrage of doctor appointments, and have suddenly found myself back in the school routine, living in an apartment with my best friend.

It does not mean that I did not enjoy my time in Italy or its own cultural quirks; rather, I have gained the capacity to appreciate both cultures for what they have and to spend my time to the fullest wherever I am.

I brought small aspects of the journey back with me. A mocha (espresso-maker) sits in the kitchen, maps cover my walls, and blouses fill my closet. For the most part, everything seems the same, except…

Finally reunited with my family

Finally reunited with my family

What I most gained was confidence. In those seven months, I had, by necessity, found an apartment, found work, found a gym, traveled, cooked, got a passport, and attended classes all on my own. An ocean away, I had few lifelines and largely had to depend upon myself. Despite how shy I was or however insecure about my Italian grammar, I had to talk. I had to grab a bus and hope not to miss my stop. I had to ask strangers about apartment openings. I had to meet professors for oral exams. I constantly took leaps of faith to get organized or just to get by. The confidence that I earned is invaluable.

When I came back, it was with head high and a step not flaunting, but secure. I could carry conversations with strangers and tend to my own appointments. I can take responsibility for my own affairs, because I had to when I dove into the Bologna Consortial Studies Program.

I learned a lot about Italy, about my family, and about myself while studying overseas. I attained skills and characteristics—a courage, an open-mindedness, and a comprehension—that I will hold for the rest of my life, wherever I go.

But for now, I’m happy to be back home.

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