In just one month, Sorrento has become much more than simply the place I’m studying abroad–it has become my home away from home. After a few weeks of feeling like somewhat of an outsider looking in, I’ve managed to find my place in this close-knit small town. I exchange greetings with the same man outside his deli each morning on my way to school, my friends and I have gotten to know the owner of the bar we frequent for lunch (they have the most amazing pasta al tono) so well that we share lunch with his family on the weekends. The close community atmosphere has made immersing myself in the culture the easy and natural thing to do: after dinner each night, my roommate and I walk down to the shore, as many Sorrentians do, and speak only in Italian until we get back home. Though our conversations may not make perfect sense to a native speaker listening in, these walks have really helped me learn the language, and are my favorite part of my day.
Not only have I been learning a new culture and language, but I’ve also discovered some things about myself. Everyone is so open and friendly here that I’ve adopted the same attitude. If I hear someone speaking English at a bar or gelateria, I find myself going right up to them and introducing myself. If I am feeling especially brave, I try to strike up conversations with some of the locals that I see regularly around town. A month ago I would have been shy and embarrassed by my poor Italian, but now after making so many friends by simply saying hello ( or ciao), it seems silly for me to not put myself out there and make connections. Isn’t that what the experience of going abroad is all about?
Samantha – Ithaca College