One of the most unique parts about studying abroad that sets it apart from traveling to a location for a short amount of time is the opportunity to understand and experience local culture firsthand. While I have been studying abroad in Sorrento, Italy, I have found that one of the best ways to experience the local culture is to talk to locals! Although this may seem obvious, talking to local people can be a daunting task, especially if there is a strong language barrier. One of the best ways that I have been able to talk to locals, even without knowing the local language, is by finding people at my study abroad institute who are willing to help. 

In my personal study abroad experience, I have been lucky enough to be in contact with many local people who have introduced me to more locals than I could have ever hoped to meet. Despite a difficult language barrier, these educators and mentors have bridged a gap between me and Italian culture, especially the unique, easy-going mentality that exists in Southern Italy. 

I have met some of the most unique and interesting people with stories that almost do not sound real. For example, during my first week in Italy, I got to meet a local Neopolitan man who lives in a marine protected area on the bay of Naples. Our guide translated his stories and jokes that he said while he prepared fresh lemon espresso for us. Just when I thought I could not be more surprised, the man pulls out a framed picture of him and The King of England, standing on the same porch that I was on at that moment. 

I had no idea what stories the locals would have for me, but I have continued to be shocked at their experience and advice that they are so willing to share. Although it can be scary to speak to locals, I promise that it is worth overcoming that fear and learning all about local culture!