Back to School and Loving the Experience of Italy

I have been traveling at lot in the past month so when it came time to actually start my program it was a little challenging to get into the mindset of school. I grew so used to doing everything that I wanted to do at any given time in the day, or night, that when it came time to wake up early and get to class I found it difficult.

My class has been absolutely amazing, and we just completed our first week of the two week program. I am still having a fantastic time, but it’s just not the same as being able to go and do whatever I want. Now that it has been a week and I have had a chance to meet all of my classmates I have found that getting back into the school routine is a lot easier.

Because I chose to go on a two week study abroad program, things do go by very quickly and the instructors have done a very good job of leaving the studying to the classroom so that we can get that real feel of Italian living. Also going through this experience with a bunch of students who I didn’t even know beforehand has been really great. We are all in the same boat of not really knowing each other and not really knowing too much about where we are staying here in Rimini, so we are sticking together and planning trips together.

Rimini is a beach town on the Adriatic Sea, so on our free day next week we are planning a beach day get together which is a good way to not only stay local and enjoy Rimini, but also a good way to get to really enjoy each other’s company outside of the classroom. We are also getting to understand the culture of Italy and I feel that getting the feel of the culture of the country where you are staying is the most important thing about studying abroad.

We all go on these programs to not only discover a new country, but to discover how that new country will change us. I believe that everyone who goes on a study abroad program will experience a change in some way, even if it’s for two weeks – like my program – or a whole semester. You are in a new place and you are living a different way than you would be living if you were back home.

Things in Italy are very different than back in San Diego. One example is stores tend to close at about 1 pm and don’t open again until after 3. During this time the store owners go home and eat with their families and take a break, which is something that is completely foreign to us as Americans. I’m not saying every store in the country does this, but most do and it is completely normal and accepted.

Learning about these cultural norms allows me to better understand the Italian lifestyle, which is way more laid back and not rushed at all. We quickly learned the phrase “Italian time” because while we are supposed to be doing something at a certain time, or you want to leave a restaurant after already being there for two hours, that doesn’t mean it is going to happen when you want it to. With these new experiences I have really learned how to live in the moment and to enjoy it.

Jordan Ochoa is an international security and conflict resolution major. She is traveling throughout Europe for five weeks this summer, two of which will be on a Rimini, Italy faculty-led program.

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