Living in Rome has definitely gotten easier in the past week or so. The slower pace of the city threw me off for the first couple of weeks that I was here, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to slow down to the pace of both Italian and Roman life and let go of some of the time-sensitive anxieties that are so common in America. Being able to take my time enjoying life and actually putting in effort to make sure that my work with LivItaly is higher quality is a breath of fresh air – and almost the exact opposite of what life and work are like in America, where everything is quantity over quality and nearly everything in life is too rushed and compartmentalized to be able to fully enjoy it and experience it.
Don’t get me wrong – I do miss home, but I am definitely enjoying my time here in Rome. There are some deeply ingrained cultural differences that might not disappear during my time abroad, with the general cultural knowledge of Italy and Italian society that would take years to learn and fully get used to practicing (i.e., not planning things for work or for outside of work and instead planning things the day of or an hour before something is supposed to happen, actually taking time to be a human instead of trying to be a work- and money-oriented robots like how Americans are, and small things like ordering coffee or food from restaurants and cafes). And with the one year mark of my sister passing away coming up at the end of this week, I do miss being home with my family right now to deal with that particular anniversary and all of the baggage that comes with it.
Working with a tour company and taking an Italian language class have definitely helped me get oriented with Rome, Italian culture, and how to avoid being the stereotypical American tourist during my time here in Rome. While my Italian skills certainly aren’t the best, taking a class to help improve my Italians has been helping me remember what I’ve already learned in addition to practicing conversational Italian and helping me get used to using the language everyday. And working with a tour company, I’ve been able to learn how to avoid all of the tourist traps of Rome and how to apply what I’ve learned in college to an actual job – A.K.A., a typical internship, but with the added benefit of learning about a different culture from people who have lived in that culture and/or grew up with it for most – if not all – of their lives.
With three weeks down and five & a half weeks left, I can’t wait to see what else I’ll experience and what else I’ll learn about the Italian culture & work ethic and how to blend that with the American culture & work ethic.