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Italian Immersion and Cultural Observations

Learning Italian has been one of the biggest challenges for me since I’ve been here. I took French in high school, and languages have never really been my forte. Italian is the main barrier between the local Romans and myself, the American student. Granted, most waiters and shop owners speak decent English, I wish I had a better grasp on Italian to show my efforts to assimilate.

Italian is the only class I take everyday, for an hour from 9:00 – 10:00. Our teacher minimizes her spoken English, which I haven’t yet decided if that is in my best interest or not. What’s with all the vowels? My teacher explained that every vowel must be enunciated. So an “e” at the end of a word needs to be pronounced (not like in French or English). It’s a difficult thing for me to remember when looking at written words. Don’t even get me started on the “c” pronunciation.



On a positive note, we had our first oral presentation this morning, and I have to say I really surprised myself! We needed to say the ten things we do in Rome on a daily basis, without note cards or a cheat sheet. I didn’t fully realize how much of it I had actually been taking in! I’m not exactly forced to speak it, but it’s good to know I am capable of it if I need. Making an effort to learn Italian is an important part of this journey to me, after all I have to impress my grandparents! Also note: “bruschetta” is pronounced “brusketta,” they do not know what “bruschetta” is.



To keep this blog from turning into an Italian lesson, which I would not want to subject to anyone, I want to talk about the Italian culture as I have observed from living in Rome. First off, parking. Anything goes. Parallel, sideways, backwards, in the street, on the sidewalk, however you can make it work. I guess that’s why the Fiat is such a hit. Vespas are also everywhere. My parents are planning on doing a “vespa tour” when they come to visit, so get a kick out of that image.

Italians love dogs, and take them everywhere. I don't know if this is the same in other European countries or mostly Italy, but they're in the restaurants and never on leashes. Something you don't see in America everyday. The culture shock and the language barrier here get easier everyday and become more and more part of our normal, usual life. You can never have too much pizza and spaghetti!!



Tiber Island in Trastevere at dusk

Haley Bryan is the CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is currently a junior at Providence College.

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