It’s official, I left my home in the midwest one week ago, and ever since have been trying to keep up with the pace here in Italy!
But there’s a funny thing about that.
There’s nothing to “keep up” with here. While Romans listen to the same music, watch the same movies, and enjoy the same foods as their American counterparts (minus peanut butter, which I’m still trying to cope with); the mentality with which they approach each day couldn’t be any different than in the states.
It’s slower. On a world average, Italians work less hours per day, and days per year than any other countries. Yet they are some of the most successful, creative, and productive people in the world market today.
It goes to show there’s a lot you can learn if don’t rush.
Complaining is easy, and adapting is hard. But once I shut up about our terrible wifi, our long commute, and the size of our house keys (seriously, you would think we live in a castle), I did start to adapt.
And you know what? I really have figured out a few things in just a week. And while still foreign, this country is feeling more and more like home every day. I’m trying to relax by taking my time, taking deep breaths, and maybe taking one less shot of espresso.
For the seven days I’ve spend here, here are seven things I now know that have helped me make a more comfortable adjustment halfway around the world from snowy Minneapolis.
- At first I thought, “this money is too pretty too spend!”, and then I got here and saw how pretty the shoes are! Just kidding, Mom (sort of)! ATMs at first scared me, but now I know where to go and how to do it. I also have a good grasp on the conversion rate, thanks to my iPhone “Currency App”. It did take me a while to start using my coin euros, which are actually worth “real money” here, unlike the mess of nickels and dimes i have clinging around in the the bottom of my purse in Minneapolis which I use to plug the meters in desparation. Learning the conversion rates, ATM process, and how to use coin Euros in Rome has been a huge bonus for me.
2. the metro system
- My first few days in Rome I avoided transit because the days were so beautiful, and there was so much too see that I was afraid if I moved any faster than walking, I would miss something amazing. However, rain changed that. So now I know how to take the bus to Alleigh’s neighborhood (#280), to school (#30) and the tram to the park (#19 E). I also took the subway one time and I don’t think I’ll do that again.
3. a compass and map
- Traveling has it’s challenges, but traveling without data really can cause quite a struggle. I mean imagine you’re lost in a huge city with foreign signs, confusing directions, and winding roads. Then, I stopped crying over my unusable Google Maps, and found my compass app! Data-free, I could use a good-old paper map and actually find my way out of the city heading slightly more confidently in the right direction.
4. the calendar
- Ok, I haven’t fully adjusted to this yet. But since I filled out paperwork today with correct dates, I am going to give myself the gold star. Dates in Italy read: day, month, year. Which of course makes more sense, but that’s beside the point. This hasn’t been a huge issue besides when I thought my Visa expired 03/05/2014, a full two months before my program end on May 3rd. I’m still going to cross my fingers when they check my passport to leave.
5. military time
- I’m sure there are some of you thinking, “I already live with my clocks on military time, it’s so easy”. Cool. I don’t. The one thing I do know about time here is that I probably waste a total of 5 minutes every day between figuring out what time it is in military time, and then what time it is in the US. But since I have made it to every class on time, I’m deeming my knowledge a success.
6. buying produce
- The smallest things take me for a loop here, they really do. When you visit a grocery store here, not only do you bag your produce, but you also find the number that corresponds with the item, weigh it, and print a sticker with the price for it. It’s a simple enough process, quickly understood when you bring the cashier a bunch of unstamped fruit and she throws her hand up in the air with an Italian, “what is this?!”. Point taken.
7. using one hand in the shower
- This doesn’t apply to everyone, just my roommate and I. We have a great shower. It’s in a generous clawfoot tub with lots of light. It’s just that the shower head doesn’t attach anywhere, meaning water goes everywhere. It is absolutely fantastic if you are looking for the perfect singing-in-the-shower microphone, and less than ideal if you use two hands to wash your hair. After all, my entire bathroom is being sopping wet is a small price to pay for winning American Idol when I get back to the states.
So don’t worry about my guys, I really am doing fine. The first week was rough, and awkward, and a little less mind-blowingly incredible than my original hopes and expectations.
After all of these new things that I’ve learned in seven days, the most important is that attitude really is everything. How you think is how you feel. I really do have control over how I feel and what I do the next few months, and I’m so excited for that.
But I don’t have control over buying that pair of shoes.
Ciao, for now.