Katie Palumbo Shinnick '09 | September 10, 2015
I cannot recall the exact number of times I was prepped on “cultural shock” before I left for a semester in Rome in 2008. I was briefed on social differences, lectured on how to be reverent of a foreign society and reminded that, like Dorothy, I would not be in Kansas anymore. Four months later, however, there were no brochures or cutesy mantras to ease what was much worse: culture shock upon returning to the United States.
Sure, I knew that returning home to Phoenix would be light-years away from the neighborhood I lived in north of Vatican City, but these were changes I felt mostly ready for. My American peers and I joked about finally having ice in our beverages again, our groceries bagged for us, and catching up on episodes of The Office. And it is not as if we were immersed in an exclusive Italianate experience. Rome itself is “Americanized,” catering to the millions of tourists who dash through its museums every year; I even attended an American university in Rome. The Eternal City could be as Italian or American as you made it.
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