Ciao Italia! Dealing with Culture Shock while Studying Abroad

I have been in Italy for about a week so far, and have found myself in a constant state of wonder.

From making my way to Verona by train with my limited Italian skills, to understanding the bus system, to learning the differences in their grocery stores, my whole time abroad has been a wonderful (though frightening) cultural experience.

However, though of course Italy has been generally wonderful so far, it has been far from easy to adjust to the Italian ways and the distance from home. Commonly, this is referred to as culture shock.

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Looking Forward to a Semester Abroad in the City of Love and Shakespeare

Hello! My name is Marcella Anderson and I am a third year foods and nutrition major and interdisciplinary studies minor.

I am about to embark on the journey of a lifetime (hopefully), spending fall semester abroad in Verona, Italy. I am participating in an independent program through the University of Nevada Reno, and will be studying subjects such as art, food and Italian Culture. And I will be taking 14 units that will all transfer back to SDSU with me!

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Studying Abroad in Milan was an A+ Decision

If you’re reading this, do it.  Pull the trigger.  Study abroad.

My message, as a double major in Finance and Economics having been involved in SDSU Greek Life, Associated Students and other organizations and activities, is simple: Going abroad is a great educational, social, and cultural experience. The rewards by far outweigh any concerns, if any, you may have with the Study Abroad process.

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Mindfulness in Rome

I am sitting on a covered rooftop balcony in Rome, Italy reading “Search Inside Yourself” by Chade-Meng Tan, an exploration of the benefits of mindfulness and self-awareness. Tan explains the phenomenon he calls “Expensive Food Meditation,” where people tend to appreciate expensive food more and take their time. He argues that if we treated every meal as we treat expensive meals, we would be much more satisfied and happy.

When I reflected on this, I realized this is how people treat foreign countries versus their own countries. What we become familiar with, what we believe to be mundane and everyday, becomes gray in our minds. When places are new, fresh and expensive to get to, those are the places about which we appreciate every little detail.

I, myself, am guilty of this. Yet being abroad has made me realize how lucky I am to live in a place as great as San Diego.

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Florence – A Box of Chocolates

As a recovering Yelp addict, I used to always want to know where the best spots were, what was trending, what people enjoyed. In San Diego, I visited new restaurants, museums, installations, photo spots. I compared my experiences to those I found on Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, Facebook. Then I realized I always went in with higher expectations than I should. If the place lived up to the hype, I was happy, but not overjoyed. If it didn’t, I was annoyed at the business’s lack of what I considered follow-through.

We visited Florence with no previous research and (history buffs cover your ears) simply walked towards the tallest pointy things. Was our experience any less because we didn’t see the real David or climb the inside of the Duomo? In my opinion, no.

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My Italian Thanksgiving

One drawback of studying abroad is not being able to be with family during the holiday season, which makes it a little more difficult not to miss home this time of year. Unfortunately I was not able to go home and celebrate with any of my family this year. It honestly made me sad to think that my family was all together (one of the two holidays where this is the case) and I missed out on the occasion.

But, luckily, something happened the weekend before that made up for it every single bit.

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