People often use the analogy, “its just like riding a bike” to describe something that, once learned, is difficult to forget how to do and easy to recall how to do. I felt like this would be the same for some of my habitual practices in America. I changed a lot while abroad, many of which, were culturally dependent and I assumed would revert back once I was back in the US. For the most part I was right, If I didn’t hold onto something I learned abroad it would fade into memory after a short amount of time. Reading Richard Slimbach’s book Becoming World Wise helped prepare me for this and I made sure to pick a few cultural differences that I never wanted to forget. In order to pick them I referred to a letter I wrote before I went abroad which had a list of the things I wanted to accomplish by the end of the semester. The main ones on this list were to learn Italian and be a better cook. Italy was perfect for both of these, their main language being Italian and their second language being good food made it easy to learn. I really enjoy being able to speak a different language and I will strive to continue to improve it for the rest of my life. As for cooking I was never much good at it but after exploring my taste buds a little more in Italy and cooking with my friends abroad I learned some good skills. My mother has always been a great cook and I know she is thrilled that I want to cook more because it makes it a bit easier for her. The other thing I brought back from Italy is some different pronunciations like the correct way to say pistacchio, gnocchi, bruschetta, and many other Italian words. I don’t know how much of a practical purpose this will serve other than making English majors upset but it will help to remind me of Italy.
There are also many cultural differences that I will be unable to recreate in the US. Such as walking everywhere, or only buying a few things at the grocery store, or pausa. Pausa is an Italian tradition where the stores close in the middle of the day, around lunch time. A lot of stores close, kids get out of school for a few hours, and traffic almost completely ceases to exist. You also aren’t allowed to play basketball at this time which my friends and I learned the hard way. And as much as I disliked walking up all the hills and cobblestone streets to get anywhere its probably the thing I miss the most. Like I said in the beginning some of my abroad habits will change and I will have to reinvent them to work again at home. But there are still many things I am not used to and it will probably take me a long time to get used to again. The big one so far is shopping at the grocery store, no one wants to go everyday or multiple times in the same day but I am really not good at figuring out what I need to cook with. In Italy I was able to run to the grocery store and then go back if I needed something else because it was a five-minute walk away. In the US I need a list and have to try and get as much as I can in one go because it’s a fifteen-minute drive away. I haven’t seen too many of my other old habits reemerge but the US requires a different lifestyle than the one I had abroad and as much as I don’t want to I will need to change.
Photo taken on my last day in Perugia, even the sky was sad we were leaving.
Slimbach, Richard (2012-03-12). Becoming World Wise: A Guide to Global Learning (Kindle Locations 4026-4028). Stylus Publishing. Kindle Edition.