Cultural Differences + Top Locales
Lydia, Sorrento, Summer 2014
August 12, 2014

Wow, Sorrento has been so amazing! I can’t believe my internship has already come to an end. There have definitely been some drastic changes from home, the Italian language being the main difference. Italians in general are very big into using hand gestures when they speak, and the language barrier soon becomes moot as it is so easy to figure out if the conversation is sweet or sour. I have found that yelling during a conversation is very normal, even if the conversation is yesterday’s dinner. This came as a great shock to me and it took me some time to recognize the yelling as passion. Similar to my smaller hometown, Sorrento natives are very friendly and easy going.

Study Abroad Sorrento

I was very surprised at how quickly I have built relationships with the people I have come in contact with. Everyone here is very easy to talk to and you can often find a common connection with them. My most valuable relationship that I have gained while studying abroad is with my boss, Luigi, and his assistant, Imma. Many tears were shed on my last day and saying goodbye to everyone I met was one of the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.

Study Abroad Sorrento

The biggest challenge throughout this adventure has been the language barrier. As time went on I was able to understand the language much more, but speaking was a continuous challenge until the end. It is also very difficult to go to the store and understand what you are buying. On one of my first days here I went to the store to buy shampoo and conditioner. I thought this would be a very easy task, but I was dead wrong. I spent thirty minutes in the shampoo isle trying to decipher what kind of shampoo I was buying. Another difficulty was buying meat. My suggestion is: if you don’t know 100% what you’re buying, don’t do it. One night I thought I was buying cubed steak when I later found out (after cooking and consuming) that I ate cow heels. The worst part was that it was delicious.

I spent most of my days at the design studio and if I wasn’t there I could be found at the local gelateria (where I also took an amazing gelato-making class!) or browsing through the shops in the main square. One day I felt super adventurous and went scuba diving! It was one of the bravest and scariest things I have ever done. Even though going to all of these places was a blast, my favorite spot was to be somewhere where I could see and feel the ocean breeze. It was all glorious.

Study Abroad Sorrento

For those who end up travelling to Sorrento I would suggest avoiding the crowded beaches on the main tread to a smaller secluded beach a few miles south of the main square. The view and privacy is impeccable. The best restaurant by far was called Donna Sofia. I received so much free, delicious food and the staff treats everyone like family. It’s a far walk up into the “mountains” if you choose to walk, or they also offer a free shuttle. Also, don’t forget to visit the old mill! It is easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it. It is just up the road from the main square and it looks beautiful at night!

This adventure has been one of the best things I have ever done. If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Sorrento for a second. A little piece of my heart will always be here.


Lydia is a student at Seattle Pacific University studying at Sant’Anna Institute in Italy during the Summer 2014 term. 

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.