We’re halfway through Study Abroad 2018 – Milano. I had very few preconceived notions about what being here for an extended time would be like. Unlike many of my classmates, I came here fairly neutral: no prior plans–my only hope to experience a new culture as organically as possible. Although I have experienced being abroad a few times in the past, and I have traveled extensively across the US, this trip has been the most disorienting to me. Milan is a city full of busy people who are more self-involved than anything I have previously experienced.
One of the defining characteristics of Italy as a whole seems to be regionalism. Nationalism is not celebrated much here, and, although we visited during the celebration of the Republic of Italy, Italians seemed generally unenthused. There were a few Italian flags flying from windows and balconies, and the attached picture shows an Italian flag displayed in umbrellas over a street in Genova, but if you look closely at the picture, the remainder of the umbrellas are instead in a variety of colors. This variety of colors continued throughout the streets of Genova, perhaps symbolizing the unique cultural landscape that makes up the Republic of Italy, rather than celebrating nationalism as the US might think of it.
From the strange keyboard setup I used to log onto this computer to attempting to buy bread with what I thought was olives (only to be surprised–and, frankly, angry–to bite into a raisin) Italy has been an enriching and challenging experience.