It’s been almost a week since I arrived in Verona for my semester abroad and while I don’t necessarily fit in with the locals just yet, I do feel like I’ve already learned quite a bit!
One of the main differences I’ve noticed between Italy and the United States is the fact that people walk pretty much everywhere here. Back home, it’s not uncommon for me to drive one or two miles to a destination, but in Verona I’ve been walking anywhere from 6-10 miles a day through the city, to the grocery store, or to restaurants. Because everything is located so close together, walking seems to be the most convenient travel method for the residents of Verona; It certainly makes me think twice about what shoes I’m wearing before I leave the house. I’m hoping that this new exercise practice will provide a balance to the diet of pasta, cheese, and bread I’ll be observing over the next few months.
Another major difference I’ve picked up on between Italian and American customs is the late meal times and large portion sizes. It’s commonly expressed that America serves what might possibly be the largest portion sizes around, but I think Italy could challenge that notion. All the meals I’ve had here so far have consisted of multiple large courses that I’ve yet to completely finish, but I’m not complaining! The food is good and there’s plenty of it. However, the later meal times here have taken some getting used to. A typical lunch in Italy is eaten around 2 p.m. as opposed to noon in America, and dinner begins closer to 8 p.m. instead of the 5 or 6 o’clock meal I’m accustomed to at home. I was informed by a local guide that only tourists eat that early and most restaurants won’t even be open until later in the evening.
Despite the differences, Verona is actually rather similar to where I live back in Georgia. The climate is comparable, fashion styles look practically the same, and a good deal of people speak English. It’s comforting to know that no matter where you go in the world, it seems that you can always find some sort of familiarity to remind you of home. I’m so glad that Verona is my new home for the semester and I look forward to continuing to learn about the people and culture of this region.
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