Adjusting to life in Milan, Italy has definitely come with some culture shock. I experienced it from the very first moment I stepped off the plane and exited the airport. Many of the other students in my program were on the same flight from JFK to Milan with me. We all walked out of the airport together and were looking to get cabs to our apartments. The first thing we all noticed were how much smaller the cars were than in U.S. We had been planning to have 4 people share each cab but we instantly determined these small cars were not going to be able to accommodate the luggage of 4 people. We continued to struggle when trying to communicate with the Italian drivers as the language barriers made it a bit difficult. However, some of them did speak English and we were able to make it to our apartments.

Further adjusting has been adapting to smaller things that are done very differently. For starters, Italian’s do not give instructions in classes in the same level of detail as we are used to in America. We are used to be handed a syllabus with every test date and chapter laid out and being given specific chapter information. That is not the same here and has been a bit of an adjustment. Additionally, Italian teachers do not provide feedback in the same way American teachers do. They do not tell you what you are doing well or how to correct it. They simply just give you the grade with no further information. I have also had to adjust to a much later dinner time. Dinner is from 7:30 -10:30 pm. There is no option to go get dinner any earlier as restaurants don’t even open until 7:30 pm. The city here also moves much slower. I have noticed that people don’t ever seem to be in much of a hurry. I have found myself getting frustrated walking behind people when they are moving very slowly as this isn’t common in the U.S. In big U.S cities, everyone is moving quickly and always in a hurry and you rarely find people strolling so adjusting to this much slower lifestyle has been very different. To go along with this, the lifestyle overall is much more leisurely. I often find that stores will close for lunch hours. Italians will take very long lunch breaks and often take even more breaks during their work day to grab a coffee or to smoke a cigarette.

While these difference may seem to be small, they are things that make a bigger impact than you may realize. Having to adjust to these things have been challenging, but I definitely do not feel like my time abroad has been ruined by having to make these changes.