Mi chiamo Hannah (My name is Hannah). I have officially arrived in Ferrara, Italy for my gap year! So far my experience has been invigorating and exciting. I truly feel blessed to have this opportunity. When I left, I was initially very worried about any sort of culture shock I may experience. I feared that I was entering an entirely different world where the word "foreign" would fail to even remotely describe the feelings I had anticipated. In some ways, coming here from the states can be described as entering a different world, but I quickly discovered that no matter where you are people establish a core values system that connects us as humanity. I have seen people show kindness and love as well as anger and sadness- emotions and actions everyone is familiar with. This quickly grounded me. I found that in terms of culture, daily structure and social customs I was constantly adapting but I was still able to find commonality within my relationships here through emotionality. I was welcomed here with open arms.
What has turned out to be the most useful tool to me is an open mind to opportunity/learning. I am currently working on completely immersing myself in everything Ferrara has to offer me with confidence and giving back to Ferrara anything I have to offer. Establishing a place of interdependence has been very helpful for my as well. This helps me learn more by being able to ask for the help of others and then taking it upon myself to take that information and learn the language and culture. I found that patience is also very important. By taking the time to really experience la cena (dinner) or learning about aperitivo I am able to feel more connected with the home I am building for myself here. I expected the "culture shock" I experienced to be a negative thing; something that would inhibit my initial impressions or hinder my ability to experience things here. I found that the culture shock actually worked to my benefit. It was a good thing! I motivated me to want to learn more. I turned the fear I had around it into excitement for what could be. Culture shock to me is a mind set. You can choose to grow into it or let it dampen the perspective you can gain. More importantly I am learning to embrace change. Although there will be many possible hardships, I am grateful for the chance to be here.
Addio per ora!