These past five weeks in Europe have become the best memories of my life. I have learned so much about myself, the European culture, and most of all, how to adapt to unfamiliar situations. I have gained a whole new level of street smarts and confidence in finding my way around. Over the course of five weeks, I have noticed many differences between the Italian and American culture. I’d like to share just a few of my observations and allow you to observe the rest for yourself as you travel around Italy. I will admit, there is a bit of a culture shock, but it was an exciting experience and very easy to get used to.
1. Italian restaurants and stores rarely accept debit and credit cards, so cash is expected almost anywhere (even at hotels and hostels). They also want exact change and prefer smaller bills.
2. When people walk by each other and say “hello, how’s it going?” Italians expect to stop and talk for a few minutes rather than quickly greet and continue walking.
3. Fast food barely exists in Italy, which is a different story in America. You can find a lot of McDonalds in all of Italy’s major cities, but be prepared to pay for the ketchup. Though, you’ll quickly realize that Italian pasta and pizza are SO much better than America’s fast food!
4. Transportation in Europe (including Italy) is a lot more convenient than in America. Almost everyone utilizes the train and bus systems because stations are located all over the place and tickets are typically reasonably priced. I felt very safe while traveling via trains. As long as you are aware of your surroundings, you should have nothing to worry about.
5. Large department stores and grocery stores are very uncommon in Italy. Instead, Italy is filled with a lot of food markets and smaller scaled stores.
I have many more observations… but this just gives you an idea of what to expect. All of these differences are very interesting and exciting to adapt to, so enjoy it while you have the opportunity to!
In my final week, I traveled to Salzburg (Austria), Munich (Germany), and Rome. I’m glad I picked those three destinations because they were all fairly close to each other and I had enough time to spend in each place. Aside from my traveling, I am missing the CIMBA campus so much! I met so many great people and created many lifelong friendships. I miss my classes too! Both of my professors always made our classes interesting. I can now say I studied in Italy, which not many people can say they have experienced.
Here are a couple of pictures from my final week in Europe: