Well after running through the airport to make my connecting flight with 6 other Quinnipiac students, I finally arrived in Italy. The traveling process was a little stressful because our first airplane was delayed and we almost missed our second flight. Luckily, we made it and were able to relax once we reached the little hotel in Perugia.
The next morning I met my landlord of the apartment building where I will be spending the next couple of months. The apartment is much bigger than what I expected. It has two bedrooms and a big living room and kitchen area. I share the apartment with two of my closest friends. The best part about the apartment is it has an amazing view. I get to look out my window everyday and see mountains and small towns in the distance. It is breath taking! I feel bliss when looking at the view; it is peaceful and is like nothing else I have seen before.
So far I have had a smooth transition through separating and adapting to my new home. I am well aware of all the rules and laws here and always have my things close to me so I do not get pick pocketed. I feel safe but I know I still need to be mindful. As this first week progresses I am getting more comfortable with the town, people, and language. This week all of the Umbra Students are getting a crash course in Italian, while having the opportunity to learn how to order in cafes, and understanding how to communicate in the super markets. I am getting put into situations where I have to branch out of my comfort zone and talk to the locals in the little Italian that I now know.
Regarding the double edged communitas that Slimbach discuses. I think there has to be an in-between stage. He says that people stay in a bubble and do not want to get involved in the new culture or sometimes they do the opposite and become like a native and do not like other foreigners. This both seem very extreme. I think it is important to make a group of friends because you want to have a support unit and it is safe to be with other people when you are in a new area. I have met some amazing people so far; we have been having dinner together and trying new drinks and foods, which is a big part of Italian culture. However, it is just as important to meet the locals and get involved in their culture. I want to fit in with their way of life while still appreciating my own culture and friends as well. Perugia is a college town, Italian students will be returning back to their university soon and that will be a good opportunity to try to meet the people here. Then I will be able to learn more about them and their background.
Slimbach notes that it takes work for strangeness of paradoxical living to wear off; this is like the liminal stage because people are in the middle of transferring cultures. I feel that since it takes a lot of courage to go far from home and study and live in a foreign place, that is already making one come out of ones comfort zone. Therefore we are all risk takers who are studying abroad which means most of us want to travel and explore. As I get to know my new friends, I see that common interest and we are going to start to plan our trips and seek out adventures.
I will be heading to northern Italy this weekend to visit my family that lives in Verona. My first adventure traveling while abroad starts now!