It’s hard to believe that four weeks ago, we all arrived at our study abroad destinations. The time seems to be going by really fast.

The honeymoon stage is coming to an end as class work is piling up and the warm weather is fading.

It’s mind blowing to think that my midterms are in four weeks.

It’s so easy to lose track of time when classes are fewer, meals are later and stores close for two-hour lunch breaks in the middle of the day.

The other day I went to go pick up a fan, as I have been struggling to sleep because of the heat, but when I arrived at the store, it was closed for another 45 minutes for lunch.

When I finally got inside, I was directed to two different stores down the road and none of them had fans because apparently fans were out of season.

I’m not the only one having a hard time adapting to the culture. Junior Michelle Gerardi, who is currently studying in France, is having some issues when it comes to how days are structured as well.

“When someone tells you a time to be somewhere, you’re supposed to be late on purpose. For example, yesterday I went to a French birthday party that started at 2 p.m. I showed up at 6 p.m. and I was one of the first ones to arrive.”

It’s also a much different experience when I time my laundry. At Fairfield, one can be sure that within the hour and a half that I can dedicate to washing and drying my clothes, they will be clean and dry.

It’s a reliable cycle and one I’ve become accustomed too. Doing laundry over here is a much more trying experience. For starters,

I never know how much time to set aside to dry my clothes because there are no dryers here, only drying racks.

This can make it difficult for me to plan my day accordingly, as it never takes the same about of time for my clothes to dry.

And it’s not just me who experiences this problem, Gerardi is having similar issues in France.

“In this apartment that I live in, we have a tiny washer. After, we hang dry everything on a rack on the open porch which makes my clothes become cold,” said Gerardi. This is a scenario I myself sympathize with.

I’ve found that the reason there are no dryers in Italy is because they are very conscious about the environment in many aspects of their life, not just in terms in energy.

Take their food for example; everything at the grocery store is extremely fresh. The downside to all this fresh food is that I’m not used to everything expiring so quickly; due to all the preservatives used in the food in the United States had gotten me into habit of keeping my food for more that a few days. 

Additionally, Italians will bring their own bags to take home groceries instead of using plastic bags like we are accustomed to at home . If you want to carry home your groceries in a plastic bag, you need to pay 50 cents per bag.

I would recommend bringing your own bag, or a backpack to make grocery shopping easier and cheaper.

Time and proper procedure can be confusing even in such a simple task as grocery shopping. I got corrected by a cashier one day at the market for saying “good day” to him in Italian.

He told me that I could not say “good day” yet because it was noon and the people in Florence say “buongiorno,” meaning good morning, up until 3 p.m.

The social differences in the cultures we are all experiencing are both fascinating and life changing, especially the difference in how the U.S. and Italy use their 24 hours in a day.

We are so used to powering through the day, being judged as lazy college kids if we take a nap, but Italy sees downtime in the middle of the day as a necessary part of one’s day.

Additionally, it has been drilled into our heads that it is disrespectful to be late, as it shows rudeness and a lack of consideration for the person.

It is strange for me to realize that the way of the life I grew up with is unique to America.

Being abroad isn’t just about learning new cultures; it’s about adjusting to all aspects of living in another country — even something as simple as time.

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