In Florence, Art of Travel Spring 2016, Borders by Megan Cutaran1 Comment

Italy is the home of a strong culture. There is a certain aura in the air and an essence throughout the cities. They are lively, like the people. They are vivid. Yet there is a feeling of simplicity. Life seems simpler here. People do not seem to have the same cares and worries as they do back in the United States. There is less importance put on making money and work, while there is a heightened importance of family and leisurely time. The city itself is set up to accommodate recreation. Large squares sit throughout the city with outdoor cafes bordering them. It is part of the culture here to take time to relax and enjoy. While in America people grab their coffee on the go, during a bustling commute, in Italy it is customary to stand at the counter and enjoy your drink. The do not even offer cups to take on the go. There is a completely different mental state here. No one seems to have excessive amounts of money or lavish, but it seems also as if no one cares to have that. The people are content with a life of having what they need and nothing extravagant.

It is going to be strange to return home and see this contrast, especially returning to New York, specifically. Everything is New York is faster and almost rushed. I rarely walk around New York on a leisurely stroll to just enjoy myself. In fact, I feel like I would get run off the sidewalk if I tried to do that. Instead, my movement in New York is usually just going from point A to point B as quickly as I can. I am going to miss the different mindset that I have here in Italy. I am going to miss the simplicity.

My life here has been pretty simple due to the structure of the program. I feel like living here is just easier. All of us live within a 10-minute walk of each other. It is only a 20-minute walk from one end of the center to the next. People in the program have found their favorite sandwich places and know the workers by name. There is a spirit in this place that forms a community.

Upon leaving Florence, I feel like I will really miss the mentality of this city. I am going to gain more appreciation for it while I walk the streets of New York and see the hustle and the blasé citizens. I do not think I had much culture shock coming here and adjusting to the city. It was a relatively easy adjustment on that end. However, I know going home will not be as easy.

I am extremely thankful to have been able to experience this different culture here in Italy. My first time abroad in Sydney, I did not feel as if the culture differed that much from the culture in the United States. Here, it has been very noticeable, and I prefer this culture. I wish that one day I could live here, but ironically I do not think I could because of the lack of jobs here. I still have the overall mentality of an American, but nonetheless I have the upmost respect for the culture of Italy.


  1. Hi Megan!
    First off, one of the first things i had to get used to was to no to-go cups! But in the end it made me enjoy my coffee much more, sipping at the counter. I’ve enjoyed the slower pace, I find my self appreciating my surroundings much more. It will be a huge adjustment going back to California and New York!

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