This semester has been all about crossing borders from one mindset into another. A big part of a place’s culture is the mindset and attitude of the people. This was both the biggest culture shock and the most satisfying part of moving to Italy. Florence has such a laid-back feel that felt so refreshing after the stress of New York from last semester. The high-strung, always in a rush attitude I had become accustomed to had disappeared. And it felt amazing. It was lovely to be able to slow down, feeling encouraged to enjoy life to the fullest as Italians do. I quickly began to mimic the chilled-out mindset, adopting a much calmer approach towards life and my schoolwork. The relaxed attitude here was not always easy to adjust to though, especially when I really had to be on time. For instance, the buses are a constant source of irritation because they are so unreliable. There are times when I really just want things to run smoothly and efficiently, which is not a strong suit of the Italians. However, I try my best to remind myself it’s just part of the life here and to be more relaxed when things don’t work out.
Each time I traveled (which was almost every weekend), I found that again I had to readjust my mindset to fit the attitude of the place. And the differences between the places I visited made me appreciate how unique each city was, and I came to love each one in a different way. Copenhagen, for instance, was amazing. I’m typically not the most patient or optimistic person, but everyone in Copenhagen was so incredibly kind and friendly, that I automatically felt more cheerful and very accepted, even though I was an outsider. It was also fantastic to go back to London, where I spent last spring semester. The British have perfectly mastered the efficiency I was sorely missing in Italy. London has the same fast pace, big city feel of New York, but with much nicer people. Going back to London felt like going home, where I already knew and understood the mindset and I was able to relax back into a normal way of being for a bit before being forced to adapt again.
Living in this constant state of change, while refreshing and exciting at first, has left me completely exhausted. I am so ready to cross the next border and return home, back to my family, my puppies, and my normal life. I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining; this has been an amazing experience and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. But I won’t lie; I’m very excited to stay in one place for a while. I think the most important thing about this semester is that it has prepared me for crossing the biggest border of all in January—graduation. I have learned to be ok with stepping out of my comfort zone and how to adapt to living in a constant state of transformation, as I suspect my life will be following graduation. From my time trying to think like an Italian, I have learned to approach life with a more relaxed attitude, and to appreciate every minute.