Culture Shock! My First Week Abroad

Culture Shock! My First Week Abroad


As most of you already know, I am currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. So far the journey has been a little crazy but ultimately – AMAZING!

That isn’t to say my journey here didn’t have a rough start… Air France lost my luggage!  I was totally overwhelmed. Not only was I in an entirely new country, but I had none of my belongings!

Fortunately, H&M exists here, and I was able to purchase a few pieces to get me by until my luggage was finally found.

Of course, I am extremely grateful for my wonderful and fabulous roommates. In total, there are six of us. Four of us are from SNHU so we knew each other before the trip. This definitely put me at ease, especially since we are all Fashion majors and share many of the same interests.

Together, we are slowly- but surely- adjusting to the many cultural differences that exist here in Florence, Italy. Things are certainly a whole lot different here….

Shopping at the Grocery Store 

To save some Euros, we figured it would be a good idea to not eat out all the time and buy some groceries. You know, fruits and veggies, yogurt, eggs, bread, peanut butter…
But peanut butter doesn’t exist here! You literally cannot find it anywhere. There are jars of Nutella EVERYWHERE – and Nutella flavored candy bars, gelato…but alas, no peanut butter.

I also spent a lot of time looking for eggs only to find out that they keep them stored at room temperature.

Before getting to the register, we had to weigh our fruits and vegetables.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention -we have to pay for plastic bags!

Although our first experince grocery shopping here was a little strange,  we all agreed that the best part about every trip to Conad City is the wine, which at 3 Euros a bottle – it’s basically cheaper than water.

Conserving Energy and Recycling

Italians only get up to six hours of heat in their homes per day. We have to be mindful of how much electricity we are using, as we will have to pay the difference if it goes over 200 Euros in a month.

In addition, guidelines for recycling here are very strict.  All paper and plastic must be separated from the rest of our garbage, and failure to do so results in HUGE fines. It makes sense, but its pretty tedious.

And nobody here has drying machines. Our own washing machine is located outside on our porch. We have to hang all of our clothes outside to dry!

  Eating Out at Restaurants


The Springtime sandwich at Pino’s. This sandwich shop is my new favorite. Absolutely delicious!

Although Italians here do not tip the waiters/waitresses, each restaurant typically has a cover fee  of about 2€ per person.

Also, every restaurant we have been to has charged us for water, which comes in tall glass bottles and you can either have it served sparkling or still.

Italians  typically order three to five course meals. The antipasto, the primo, the secondo, the contoro, and the dolce. But I have ordered one dish and been satisfied with that.

After a nice dinner at Dante’s , we were served a shot of Fernet, an amber-colored, syrupy, bittersweet Italian liquer. Italians commonly drink  this after their meals as a digestif.


In America, it feels as though everyone around me is extremely fast-paced. We are always on the go and moving towards our next destination. Italians? Not so much.

As my friend and I were walking towards our first class of the week, Tuscany and Its Wines, we realized we were running behind. .
We quickened our pace,  but  nobody around us seemed to be in any sort of rush.

And that’s just the thing..Italians love to sit, relax and absorb every second of their day. In those five minutes we were rushing to class, I couldn’t appreciate this aspect of their lifestyle, but now I totally do.
They will stop in street cafés and read for an hour just because they can. They take the time to enjoy their surroundings for all that they are worth, and this is something that I am learning to embrace.

Language Barriers


Briana, Amber, and I outside of Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower.

Upon arriving to Italy, I was under the impression that pretty much everybody here spoke English.

But I was wrong! Although there are many people here who are fluent in English – especially merchants and waiters, there are others who barely understand it.

The first night, my roommate and I decided to explore the city a little. We also wanted to do some shopping at Zara  but we needed some help.

We stopped several people on the street  for directions, all of whom had difficulty comprehending what exactly we were asking.

When we finally reached our destination, we realized that communicating with Italians was a lot more difficult than we thought it would be.

It took a lot of time and patience!

The experience makes me more determined to pick up the language while I am here. I am certain that my time here will succeed in making me more knowledgeable and eager to learn more about all of the different cultures that surround me!

Walking, walking, and more walking

Whether it be going to class, stopping for a cappuccino, or just exploring the beautiful city, we do SO much walking every day.

I’m hoping maybe all of this walking will counteract all the pasta, bread, and wine I have been consuming.

And, with every step I take, I am discovering new and more beautiful parts of the city each and every day! I really can’t complain about that.
As expected, Italians do things a whole lot differently, and these are just a few of the many differences I have noticed.
But we are all adjusting, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. With these girls, I am sure we can accomplish anything! 🙂

Leave a comment

  1. Irene
    February 3, 2016 / 4:23 am

    Very well written. I feel I am almost there! I will look forward to reading more of your experiences.
    Love, Aunt Irene

  2. Auntie
    February 3, 2016 / 7:33 am

    Thank- you for sharing your week so eloquently. Will be connecting with Mom this weekend to pick up your Sperry’s 🙂

  3. Anne Sylvestre Quinn
    February 3, 2016 / 10:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences! You have a talent for writing! Looking forward to more!

  4. Ms Sarro
    February 3, 2016 / 12:35 pm

    I loved reading this!!! Well done. I am so excited for you…..what an amazing life experience. I can’t wait to read your next post.
    Ms Sarro

  5. Olivia Payne
    February 3, 2016 / 5:08 pm

    This is amazing Lisa!! I’ll be sending you some peanut butter 🙂

  6. Abbie
    February 3, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    Love you Lisa!! Keep having the best time of your life! We miss you so much!

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