WOW. After all the preparation and anticipation, we are finally here….in Roma! As my first time being out of the country, I don’t know that there was really any way for me to fully prepare myself for this experience. So, I’ve kind of been wingin’ it up until this point. Now that I’m here, I realize that in some ways, that was a bit of a mistake. At the moment, I’m feeling like I can already tell what my two greatest challenges will be on this journey in Italia. The most overwhelming will be the language barrier. Everyone I spoke to before getting on the plane and jumping the pond assured me that with my zero Italian language skills, I would able OK here. And I will be, but it is certainly going to be a challenge each day not knowing even the simplest of sayings, or how to pronounce their beautiful language.
The first language issue I ran into was getting on my connecting flight to Roma from Frankfurt. I had my backpack and a 22” suitcase as my carrier-ons, which was not an issue on the US Airways flight, but on this smaller plane, my suitcase wasn’t going to fly. I lug the 3o-pounder up the stairs from the tarmac and when I reach the top, I am greeted by an energetic, and to me, seemingly stressed flight attendant. She begins to, what I consider yell, but what Italians consider talk to me about my luggage. I could tell there was an issue, but literally hadn’t a clue as to what she was saying. I blankly stared at her. At this point she could tell I had no idea what was going on, so she took my luggage, handed me an Air Alitalia ticket with numbers on it, and scooted me past her and onto the plane. I guessed my luggage was headed down below.
Admittedly, many Italians, especially in the bars, cafes, gelaterias (yum!), and other shops, speak English, or can at least communicate to a point. But, walking into an Italian shop with a bunch of natives eloquently and passionately speaking to one another, it is so difficult for me to feel comfortable meandering in and attempting to speak the LITTLE Italian, I know, or worse, to speak English. I really look forward to becoming more comfortable with the people, language, and city, so that these situations aren’t as intimidating or uncomfortable. But, the upside, I haven’t had any experiences (yet) where Italians have been completely disparaging or unkind to me, which brings some relief.
The other test I have been facing this week is the lack of technology in my life (big surprise!) You know, I’m not someone who is constantly glued to their cellphone or Facebook at home, but being over here and having neither for a few days, was freaking me out. It really surprised me that I felt that way, but being thrown into another country and culture and then having no way to communicate with people did not sit well with me. It’s shocking the way we get used to these things and how we feel when they’re suddenly taken away. But, things are slowly getting sorted out. The internet seems to be working at the Residence fairly well, and we have it on campus. More to come on the Roman adventures soon!