I am not the most emotional person, but I will never forget the feeling that I got when I was walking to my terminal at the airport in Torino, Italy. I had not shed a tear about leaving up until this moment, but my eyes filled with tears because it became real that I was leaving the country that had become my home for the past month and a half. Although 6 weeks sounds like such a short time to most, but when you are completely taken outside of your comfort zone, 6 weeks feels like 6 months. I was now leaving the whole new life that I had built, completely removing myself from my apartment in the city, my friends that I made, all of the amazing weekend getaways, and so much more. I cannot even put into words how rewarding this experience was.
Trying to follow the Italian culture was hard because the people do not smile and say “hi” to each on the streets. Being from below the Mason-Dixon line, I have been raised to make conversation with strangers and be cordial with them on the street. I quickly learned that Italians saw this to be insulting and that I had bad intentions. This became one of my hardest habits to break. So, when I arrived in Atlanta, I had extreme culture shock!
One of the most interesting parts of my culture shock, was being able to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. I had been completely immersed in a different language, and I never really knew exactly people were talking about while I was gone. I was completely overwhelmed being able to actually hear what SO many people were saying around me.
On my flight from Atlanta to Louisville, I was extremely shocked to finally be reunited with ice-cubes in my drink! The cup was so much larger than any that I had while I was living in Italy. Also having pretzels and being able to read the package label was different. This short flight was reminding me of how different life is in Kentucky.
In Torino, there wasn’t Uber so I didn’t spend much time in actual cars for long periods of time. When my family, picked me up in the airport and drove me home, it was different to be in an actual large vehicle again, with air conditioning! Cars were so small in Italy, and my parent’s Ford Flex actually felt like a bus to me.
My first meal back was Cracker Barrel, and the service industry is so much different in America. The servers are constantly checking on you and making sure your needs are met, and in Europe, the servers only take your order and bring your food, you even have to ask for the check! It felt amazing to have LARGE portions of food, but more importantly breakfast food because I was only able to have pastries and mini cups of coffee for such a long period of time.
It crazy how the smallest parts of life in America such as: free water, ice, cheap peanut butter, air conditioning, and services, are taken for granted, and can be very hard to adjust pack to in America.