I have been studying the Italian language for almost three years now. I’m not sure when my curiosity started, but the Italian culture, food, people, and beautiful scenery have always infatuated me. Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to move to Italy. I had this burning desire to learn the language but unfortunately it wasn’t offered during my primary and secondary education so I studied Spanish. When I attended the University of Mississippi, I continued with Spanish since it was familiar to me. However, after a year of taking Spanish courses and not being self-motivated to no longer retain the language I decided to switch to Italian.
My university has a study abroad program with Accademia Italiana, a language and cultural school in Salerno, Italy. The program allows students to take their intermediate level courses abroad. I signed up for this program and instantly fell in love with ALL of Italy. When the program concluded, I knew I had to go back! When I returned to school my next level courses were not grammar and vocabulary based courses. Instead, they were based on the Italian culture and history. Which was great because I learned the history of Italy and the importance of art and cinema in the Italian culture. However, after a few months of not learning and perfecting my grammar and speech I decided that once I graduated I would go back to Accademia Italiana and take another language course.
My original plan was to move to Italy and study at Accademia Italiana for 4-6 weeks and then start graduate school at an Italian university in September/October/November (depending on which program I would be accepted into). However, days before I was scheduled to take the GRE I decided it wasn’t my time. Those days I had been feeling very unsteady and uncertain. Something just kept telling me that this plan wasn’t right. Once I finally decided to forgo going to graduate school I felt better, and that’s when I truly knew I was making the right decision for myself. I still knew…somehow and someway I wanted to move to Italy. Since I was already enrolled in Accademia Italiana I just requested to extend my study to 6 months.
Where I Live
I live in the beautiful and historical city of Salerno, Italy. The city is located in the Campania region of Italy and is situated in between the famous and gorgeous Amalfi and Cilento Coasts. I feel so blessed to live near such beautiful cities: Amalfi, Positano, Capri, Palinuro, Paestum, Pompeii, Ravello, Cetara, Agropoli, among others.
What I Do
Not only do I study my Italian at Accademia Italiana, I work there as well. In the mornings I learn and perfect my Italian language skills and in the afternoon I work in their marketing department. I am at a more advance intermediate level right now and I hope in six months I will be more fluent. As a Marketing Assistant, I am working on creating new marketing materials for Italian study, handling all social media post in English and Italian and translating existing documents from Italian to English.
I think the biggest struggle for me adapting to the Italian lifestyle is that Italians are extremely laid-back compared to Americans. For them everything is always “piano, piano” (slowly, slowly). They never like to feel stressed or overwhelmed and they do not want you to feel this way either. If you are, they will commonly say “Senza Stress” (don’t worry/without stress) or “Tranquilla, Tranquilla”. Another common struggle for me is the miscommunication. Especially during an important situation like applying for a permission to stay, purchasing cell service, or hailing a taxi. It really frustrates me when the other person loses their patience. I’m like “I’m so sorry. I’m trying”. Haha! Surprisingly though, I haven’t been homesick, although I miss my family/friends and the American culture very much.
If you ever reach a time in your life where you feel you want to try something new and move to a new city or country, GO FOR IT! I think it is always important to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. When you do make up your mind, I think it is extremely important to have a plan. Figure out what you are going to do, how you are going to get there, where you will stay, what language locals speak, and do you need to obtain any documents (passports, VISA, permit to stay, etc.). Also, consider foreign exchange, the cost of living, how will you get around, cellular and Internet services, and taxes. It is important to remember that culture shock will happen, dating/romantic relationships habits will be different, and technology advancement may not be as current as what you are used to.