It only took three weeks for me to completely fall in love with Italy and never want to get on a plane back to America. It is easily the most amazing place I have been. With my home being in Arezzo and weekends spent adventuring through Rome, Positano and Florence, I’ve adapted to a lifestyle I’ll never forget. I’ve picked up on the culture norms, language, and ways of travel and have learned so much in a short period of time. I will without a doubt be back one day in the future, whether it’s five, ten, or twenty years from now. When I’m back in America, I want to make sure I don’t lose my connection to this wonderful culture. After some reflection and research here are some ways for you to keep in touch with the Italian culture.
1. Stay in practice with the language. To do this effectively, I’ve came up with three ways for you to strengthen your language skills upon returning to the United States.
- Speak Italian when possible
One of the most important things is to keep up with the Italian language. Take it from me; it’s extremely hard to communicate with the people in Italy when you don’t speak the same language. Fortunately, there are many apps, classes and audios that can be used while in America to help you keep up and even learn the language. IT lite is the app I have on my phone; it has different categories and offers Puzzle, Multiple Choice, Write In and Speak & Compare. This gives you a variety of ways to practice and trust me it works! There are online classes you can take, as well as in person and the internet also offers audios online where you can just sit back and listen to books being read in Italian.
- Go to an authentic Italian restaurant
They may not be easy to find, but believe it or not there are true Italian restaurants that can be found in America. Most of the words on the menu, if not all, are written in Italian. You will be able to order your meal in Italian as well as eat a delicious meal that will have you thinking your back in Italy! Typically, the workers will speak fluent Italian, so you can get more practice with speaking too.
For more information on Italian dining, you can check out these 6 Practical Tips!
- Practice cooking homemade Italian meals
If you’ve ever been to Italy, you’ll agree that the pasta is phenomenal. With every bite, you can taste the hard work put into every authentic, homemade noodle. During our stay in Tuscany, we took a cooking class where a wonderful Italian chef taught us how to make pasta from scratch. It was an unforgettable experience and we will all take the cooking skills we learned back to America. When looking up Italian recipes, look at the instructions in Italian and try to translate them yourself. Practicing Italian recipes like that at home will remind you of the tasty food you once used to eat on a daily basis. What a delicious way to keep in touch with Italy!
2. Use media to your advantage. The wonderful thing about social media is you can reach people within seconds, no matter where you are. I’ve came up with three ways for you to use media to your advantage to help you stay connected to the Italian culture.
- Watch a movie in Italian
During class one morning, we watched a movie in Italian, with the English captions on. I was very surprised at how much I understood and how enjoyable the movie still was even though it was in a language I didn’t fully understand. The movie was La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) and was filmed in the town or Arezzo, which was also really fascinating considering that’s where we were staying. Even though it’s not your first language, you will be amazed with how much you can comprehend when watching Italian movies. If you’re a college student like I am, our school library has movies that can be rented in Italian. This is an easy way to get your hands on a good Italian film. If you’re not in college, you can check your local library and they most likely will have some for rent as well.
- Follow Italian accounts on social media
As we already know, pretty much everyone uses social media; it helps us stay globally connected and keeps us engaged as audience members. A great way to stay updated with current events happening in Italy is to follow some Italian social media accounts. Coastal In Tuscany is an account that was managed by our teachers during our study abroad and it was a great way for people back home to see what we were up to. There are many other Twitter accounts such as Made In Italy, News From Italy and All About Tuscany that post about current news and events happening. There are Instagram accounts you can follow, which is a great way to see more visuals and also Facebook accounts that post daily.
- Listen to Italian tunes
Italian music is much different than the music we’re used to back home. Not even the fact that they sing in Italian, but the rhythm is usually a lot different. At any restaurant or cafè, there is always a nice Italian melody playing. Interestingly, a lot of American music is played over here as well; some with the lyrics in English and some in Italian. When you’re just hanging out at home or in the car when back in America, put on an Italian music station to bring back memories of those long nights hanging out with friends at the bar.
3. Maintain interaction with Italians. What better way to keep in touch with the Italian culture than interacting with Italians themselves. I’ve came up with two valuable ways to keep the interaction going, even when back home in America.
- Keep in touch with people you’ve met.
If you met anyone during your time in Italy, make sure to stay in touch with him or her. Try to talk to them once a week and either write, text, call or email each other. You can also use social media to stay in touch. I follow a few people that I met in Rome on Instagram and Snapchat, so I’ll be able to see what they’re up to while I’m back home. If you haven’t met anyone that you would want to talk to every week, look for a pen pal. Most pen pals from Italy are looking to practice their English. You can write to them in English, they can write in Italian and you both will learn from it!
- Look into hosting an Italian student
This option isn’t for everyone, but hosting an international student doesn’t just mean providing a home and meals. A host family welcomes a new member into their home, shares with them your everyday lifestyle and grows as you get to know one another. You’ll be surprised at how much you learn about yourself, your family and community by hosting a student from another culture.
It will be very bittersweet having to leave my villa here in Tuscany which I’ve grown so familiar with, as well as the surrounding area. I want to stay in touch with the Italian culture so it doesn’t feel like I’m as far away as I am in reality. I am looking forward to doing all of these things while back in America and I’m confident that if you follow these as well, we will both be prepared to come back to Italy in the future!