I made it through the first week in Florence, Italy! The days felt long but the week as a whole went by pretty quickly. There are a few things that I was not expecting about the culture here in Italy. I guess this is part of the culture shock during the first week.
Comparing my expectations to reality, I noticed some major differences between the culture of back home and here in Italy. One is, servers at restaurants do not come to your table to make sure you are doing okay like in the United States. Italians do not value customer service nearly as much as Americans do. They simply come to your table to take your order and bring you the check (which you have to ask for, by the way). They leave you alone for the most part. Even in stores, I have noticed that the employees behind cash registers did not always greet me when I came up to them, even when I said “Ciao,” which means “hello.”
Before coming to Italy, I knew that our apartments would not have driers and only washing machines. I thought this process of washing clothes would be lengthy and tedious, but it turns out that the clothes dry very quickly when hung up on the rack. As long as there is a window open, the clothes dry in no time. However, the washer does take about 2 and a half hours to complete a cycle, compared to the 50 minute cycle back home. Patience and gratitude is key. By not using a drier, we are actually being very eco-friendly and treating our clothes more kindly.
Something else I was shocked about was the food. I thought that the food here would be very extravagant, but for the most part, every dish that I have had has been very simple. The ingredients are very natural and rich, and the pasta does not bloat you because it is so healthy.
I also thought that I would be more homesick than I actually have. I am so happy that I chose to do random roommates because they ended up being my closest friends on the trip and it really helps with not being homesick. We do everything together and I know I will keep in tough with them back home on campus. I think that the best way to meet new people is to choose random roommates. It may just be a blessing!