When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
Hanna Lester, SAI Ambassador
June 4, 2019

There were many moments when I attempted to blend in with my host country. Italy’s everyday culture is so different from America’s and I never wanted to stick out. I was already at a disadvantage with my blonde hair and tall height, which often made me stick out like a sore thumb while abroad. I wanted to live like the locals live and fully immerse myself in their culture as best I could.

Be bold with your fashion choices! Have fun with it!

One way I attempted to blend in was by changing my style and clothing. I never wore a tshirt and nike shorts or workout clothes (my everyday attire here in the states), because that’s not how the Italians do things. They were always dressed to the nines and seemed very put together when out and about around the city. I wore a lot of dark colors when it was still winter, but as the spring rolled in I noticed others start to branch out with bright spring colors, so I tried to do the same. Fashion was a major aspect to blending in and I was very cautious of what the people around me were wearing.

My go-to sweater

In America, when going out to eat, we usually get in and out as quick as possible. In Italy, they take their time, fulling enjoying their meal, wine, and company. This is another adjustment I had to get used to. Dinner could last three hours and that was totally normal over there. It forced me to live in the moment and relax while enjoying the company that I was with and some delicious food. It is was of the many aspects I still try to live out while being back in America. I’m also very bad at carrying cash with me, but while in Florence, I had to shake that habit because they did not like when I paid with my debit card. It was so much easier for them to deal with cash, and many of them didn’t even accept card.

Scarves were very popular in Italy!

These are just a few things I had to adjust to while abroad. There are so many different ways to blend in with your host family if that is what you are aiming to do. The main reason I strived to blend in is because I wanted the full experience of living abroad. I truly wanted to live as the Italians live in order to get an extensive understanding of their culture.

Comfy walking shoes were a must with any outfit!

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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.