COLUMN: ‘The Adjustment Period’ of Italian life


Emma Dalli

The Ponte Vecchio bridge, located off the Amo river, brings you straight into the city of Florence.

Emma Dalli, Reporter

Saying goodbye to friends and family and getting on that dreadful eight hour flight started my trip to Italy. When you hear someone say they are going on a study abroad trip, you think of fun, travel and the best time of your life. I can tell you right now it is the scariest thing you could ever do. 

I spent the first week hating myself for being homesick when I had the whole city of Florence at my disposal. I was scared to make friends in fear of getting too attached and not being able to leave them, and I was also in turn scared that I was going to make no friends at all. My mental health deteriorated and my love for travel seemed to diminish. 

But, with the adjustment period, I soon found out how much I loved Florence and I started to realize an extremely important thing: I am only here once. 

Meeting my roommates was the first thing I did. They were kind, thoughtful and sarcastic in the best possible way. Sydney, my first travel partner, was funny in a shy manner. Millie made me feel like I was home because I knew her from my sorority already. Katie and Katrina had the biggest and most amazing personalities I had ever experienced. And MK, well, she steals your heart in her own special way. They all helped me to settle in and come to the fact that I need to make the most of these next four months. But the biggest thing that helped me was traveling.

The Duomo, an Italian cathedral named the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore in the city center of Florence. (Emma Dalli)

My first trip was to Venice. It was an impulsive night of a 3 a.m. bus ride that was booked after having maybe one too many glasses of wine. My roommate and I, running on no sleep, packed and got out the door within three hours of getting the bus ticket. The ride was a whopping four hours and when we got to our destination we realized that we got to the stop that only took us to the town on the outskirts of Venice. At this point, we didn’t know what to do. We took a nap in a random hostel lobby and tried to figure out how to get into the city rather than giving up completely. After an hour, we found our saving grace: a four euro train ride straight into the city. Once we got off the train and stepped into the streets that bordered along numerous canals, all of our stress and anxiety went away. My homesickness diminished as I explored Venice with my roommate. With this, I realized how lucky I am to have Florence as a home base.

The next week we started classes. When you think of an average college schedule, I am sure it looks like three days a week of the same classes and another two days of different classes. In Italy it’s a bit different. We have classes once day a week and they last for about two hours and 30 minutes. 

After two weeks of classes in Italy I am still not sure which schedule I prefer. The classes may run long, but I also have only three days of classes, so it gives me time to travel on the weekends. Classes here are also a lot more immersive than the classes in the United States.

The view from Piazelle Michaelangelo. The overlook is a good meditative place for journaling, reading, and forgetting about the rest of the world.

Here I take Italian cinema and literature, screenwriting I, presentation and public speaking and the serial: TV and beyond. These classes are mostly lecture based, but they also include a lot of analyzing film and reading over scripts, which I never really did in my film classes in the U.S. 

The only thing that makes my classes a little bit more difficult is the language barrier. Even though I chose to study in Italy, I have absolutely no knowledge of the language. All of my classes are taught in English, but the accents can be hard to understand and the speed at which the teachers speak is very quick. 

My trip abroad has been nothing less than interestingly terrifying. I miss my friends and my family, but I am slowly and surely making new ones here. Settling in and culture shock are the hardest things, especially when getting over the fear of missing out. Another obstacle I had to overcome was the significant time change with the people back home. With that being said, I would not trade my last three weeks for the world and cannot wait to see what happens next.