Thursday, June 14, 2012


I can honestly say that I didn't expect my first few days in Italy to be challenging, but they were. Prior to leaving, I'd heard a lot about how to cope with culture shock during the first few days in another country, but I foolishly brushed them aside, thinking I wouldn't feel any of its effects. I'm now two weeks into my study abroad experience and things are vastly different from my first few days here. In retrospect, however, I think I (1) fancied myself too "open" of a person to experience culture shock--yeah hubris!--and (2) I figured that Italy, as a Western country, wouldn't be too different from the U.S.

Of course, I was wrong on both accounts. After being led to my room, leaving my suitcase in a secure place, and getting an orientation of the building by the on-duty doorman, I took a minute to collect my thoughts and think about where to go first. I had plenty to do; in fact, at first it seemed like too much to do. From the haze that was the first day, I remember being frustrated that I hadn't had the foresight to pack adapters for my electronics, looking for a good source of internet, and constantly asking for directions while looking for l'Università per Stranieri di Perugia (the University for Foreigners of Perugia, which I will from here on out refer to simply as "Stranieri").

After finding Stranieri and being told to return on Friday (the next day) for my placement test, I stumbled upon a Greek "fast food" place where I ordered the specialty and used their wi-fi to get in contact with my family and friends via Facebook and Skype. The rest of the day was divided between fixing up my new room, walking around Perugia, and buying some basic supplies. I am sure that first day I must have stuck out  as fresh meat really easily! I don't think I have ever had to ask for help from so many different people in one day. The same would be true for the next few days as well.

On Friday it rained. My morning was crammed with different activities, including heading the the central housing agency with my residence's director to sign a contract, taking my written placement exam, returning to my room to finish rearranging it, and trying to get internet access. Before being released from our written exam at Stranieri, we were told to return at 11 in order to take the oral entrance exam. For whatever reason, I misunderstood "undici" (11) as "una" (1) and didn't come back until much later. Apparently, one of the coordinators named Corrado had been looking for me most of the morning. After apologizing for my mistake, I was told not to worry and just return on Monday morning to take the oral exam. Not until then would I know what my placement was.

Over the weekend I was struck with a longing for home that didn't allow me to fully enjoy my tour of the center city. Even so, having my camera with me as I walked about the town allowed me to take my mind off things. Regardless of any doubts I might have had then about my decision to study abroad, I definitely couldn't help but be stunned by the beauty of the city:

Corso Vanucci with Piazza IV Novembre in the background.

Perugia, as seen from Piazza Italia.
Restaurant where I had my first slice of Italian pizza.

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