The First Week: A Culture Shock

Author: Randi McQueen

After only a week in Rome, it feels like I have been here for over a month (but in a good way, of course)! I’m quickly learning my way around the city, I’m improving my Italian by speaking to locals, and we have our first review in a couple weeks! It’s been a whirlwind of orientation, adaptation, and mostly culture shock.

Roman Piazza

Ten days living in Rome, and I’ve already noticed so many unique Italian cultural nuances. It is apparent that the way of living here is much more relaxed, and every minute is savored to the fullest as compared to the American way of living in the “time is money” mentality. When eating in restaurants, the waiters won’t bring the table the check until someone has asked because it is rude to rush a meal. Even “take-away” items like coffee and breakfast foods are blatantly labeled “American” on menus. As an American college student, it seems like there is always work to be done, but it is refreshing to slow down and unwind at lunch and dinner instead of eating a fifteen-minute meal in South Dining Hall before rushing to my next class.

Contrary to the slow tradition of dining is the reckless traffic I’m forced to dodge walking to and from school. According to our program director Aida, Rome has the highest rate of pedestrian car accidents in Europe. If our class can make it through the year without any trips to the hospital, it will be a success!

Italian Cappuccino

One of my favorite new Italian customs is enjoying a daily morning cappuccino before hopping on the bus to the Rome Global Gateway. These cafes are nearly always crowded with businessmen and women drinking their morning coffee at the counter to avoid the service charge of taking a table. For only one euro, I can caffeinate for the morning and practice my Italian with the baristas. Sometimes it’s also necessary to splurge with a croissant or pastry!

It seems like I’ve already learned so much about Rome and Italians in such a short time. I am still adapting to the European way of life, but I’m anxious to absorb as much as I can about Italian culture and living.