At the time of this writing, tomorrow, October 1st, 2021, will commemorate our first full month in Ariccia. I have only ever lived in Alabama and I have only ever resided with people of whom I am related. Tomorrow represents one full month of life across the world with six roommates, sharing bathrooms, pieces of ourselves, and shared experiences. Where I initially was hesitant of the culture shock, I now look forward to the discomfort, as I have learned to translate it instead to growing pains.
These growing pains have been numerous, as almost nothing is what it initially seems. “Peperoni” on a pizza will result in bell peppers, ordering a “latte” at a coffee shop will mean a glass of warm milk, and a “frappe” is a milkshake almost never with coffee. The people here are kind, but in a different way from the South. Rather than the immediate hospitality of back home, the people of Ariccia display reservations at first, but then reveal themselves to be the most genuine, thoughtful people. I will make a point to never forget them.
Learning the Italian language has been a form of culture shock as well. With only my background in Spanish, my lack of Italian often leaves me frustrated. Ironically, locals will apologize repeatedly for not speaking perfect English; they only wish to be accommodating in their own spaces. The human condition of wanting to connect and empathize on a basic level gives me hope, and after an entire month of change and growth, I welcome the shock. I will cherish my remaining time with my thirteen-classmate support system and the wonderful people of this country.
“My 13-legged support system”
Maris Laney, Fall 2021