When you first arrive at your new home, you’re totally amazed at how beautiful and how unique the country feels. After two weeks of feeling like you are on vacation, you start to really see the differences in the American and in the European lifestyle. Culture shock is a real thing and it affects nearly every American. I have been in Italy for months now, and have finally acquainted with how things operate in Florence. When I first arrived I was amazed by how my apartment did not have an air conditioner. It was 95 degrees every day and being from America I had access to air conditioning everywhere I went. It was hard to sleep at night but eventually, it became a natural part of life. Another instance of culture shock was the difference in when and how meals are eaten abroad. At home, I always ate dinner around 5:30. In Florence, dinner is served around 9 or 10 and you will see every restaurant filled. This was so strange to me and I remember being hungry around 5:30 many times. Also, water is not free, at home, if you order a water it is your free of charge, but in Italy, it can cost up to 5 euro which is a lot of money.
Even living in the apartment can be a real shock. At the University of Alabama, I lived in an apartment for two years and thought I knew everything, wrong. There wasn’t even a dryer. I had to hang my clothes which stretches them and can take over two days. If you are cold forget about turning the heat on it is regulated by the government and only offered to city residents, when they seem fit. Dishwashers do not exist and hang washing dishes is a real pain. They pile up until finally, someone has to do them.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the American lifestyle and the European is how to grocery shop. In America, we have Walmart or Target which have huge grocery sections where you can purchase anything your heart desires. Not in Florence, here there are many different types of grocery stores, but they do not have near the amount of food compared to the states. The service is also terrible cashiers rush you through and do not take the time to allow you to load up your bags. Before you know it people are on top of you and you are scrambling to get out of line. You also have to pay for bags, which was a huge shock. Paying with a credit card can also be difficult and this really was not normal for me.
If you think culture shock won’t happen to you, think again. America is a unique place and the customs you and I grew up with are different wherever someone studies. Do not be afraid to journey from home just be prepared and understand that it will happen.