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Friday, July 1, 2016

Don't Step in the Puddles-Abbey Wilson

Well, here we are. It’s week three in Barcelona! I can hardly believe it. I’ll be gone in less than two weeks! Feels strange, but I also feel like I’ve been here forever. I actually helped an American woman find her hotel from the airport last weekend, so that was a cool feeling.
This weekend I had the incredibly opportunity to go to Rome, Italy and visit one of my friends from high school, Giuilia. We met during our senior year, and she had once said that I was welcome to stay at her house if I ever came to Rome! Of course I never thought I would actually have the opportunity to go all the way to Rome…until this summer! Oh, and here’s the catch, I BROUGHT 11 AMERICAN STUDENTS TO STAY WITH GIUILIA. I have a feeling she didn’t have that in mind when she offered to let me stay at her house three long years ago. LOL. It was a little chaotic, but that honestly just made it more fun. It was such a great trip, and I got to learn so much about Giuilia’s life and culture!
I first talked to Giuilia about how her American experience impacted her life. She came abroad when she was only 17 years old, which must have been scary! I couldn’t even make a phone call to the dentist without crying when I was 17 years old…more or less. Anyway, when I asked her what made her want to come so far away from home, she said it was because she figured she didn’t have as deep of roots in her own Italian culture that she would have when she was older. She wanted to explore other cultures while she was young and free to explore what the rest of the world had to offer. I really admire her for her bravery and the fact that she was able to leave everything she knew behind her, and step into a whole new country for not one, but TWO years!
Giulia and I also talked about things like politics and day to day Italian culture. Much like in Spanish culture, Italians tend to do things later. A lot of them eat later, wake up later, and stay up later at night. Since I was already used to it from Barcelona, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Giuilia said that she and her family usually eat at about 9 or 9:30 at night. While at dinner, her parents were incredibly hospitable, and asked how my travels were, and questions about my life. They didn’t speak English fluently, but they made so much effort to communicate with me in my language, and I definitely understood what they were trying to say. Her mother kept apologizing for the dirty dishes in the sink, which was really ironic because our group were the ones who had dirtied all the dishes up during our meal earlier! Her mom made us this huge meal with spaghetti, pork, bread, cucumber, and fruit. It was so good, and all of us were SO full. At the end of the massive meal, her mom says, “I hope you like. It was a ‘light’ meal.” To which I laughed. I was full for a solid 10 hours afterwards.
 Giuilia and I also talked about sports and politics in Italy. She’s a huge fan of ‘football’, and obviously cheers her home country on every time. We even turned the game on during lunch on the first day, and watched the hilarious sports commentators on TV. I couldn’t even understand them, and I was still laughing. We talked about how voting for the new “mayor” of Rome was happening in two days (that Sunday). There were two candidates, one that was more conservative and one that
When communicating with someone of a different culture, such as my good friend, Giuilia, and her family, I recommend being mindful of their culture, while allowing yourself to be open about your own. I also recommend avoiding ethnocentrism, as it could easily block you from learning about the other person's culture in the way that you'll be able to if you are truly open. Finally, don't forget to just relax and enjoy learning about a new culture! There are SO MANY different cultures and ways of living in the world, and immersing yourself in a culture that's different than your own, or maybe even outside of your comfort zone, is an experience that you'll never forget...or regret!
Overall, I learned so much from my good friend and her family! They have so much knowledge about Italian culture, and it’s so cool that Giuilia is now sort of a mixture of both American and Italian culture! I’m really hoping to go back sometime soon and stay longer, after only a weekend I felt like part of the family already! They’re seriously so freaking great.

Here are a few pictures from the trip!

Giuilia, her mom, and I at the top of Rome! Kind of. Oh and her adorable dog.

Our pizza party!

I think we all know what this is.

Selfie with my Italian BFF in front of something that is Roman. IDK WHAT IT IS and I don't have the will power to Google it right now, sorry.

And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for, more tips! Here are ten more things NOT to do while in Spain. So pay attention, kiddos.
1.       If you see a puddle on the street, DON’T jump in it. Trust me.
2.       Always bring water on every excursion. You will never regret it.
3.       Don’t bring sandals that you glued back together with hot glue.
4.       Don’t expect the cashier at the store to give you a bag. Either bring one or ask for one. And bags aren’t free, people. This ain’t Beverly Hills.
5.       Don’t try and tie your shoe on the metro.
6.       Don’t ask if the restaurant has free refills. They will slap you in Spanish.
7.       If someone wants to speak English with you for god’s sake just speak English (unless your Spanish is close to flawless). It makes it easier for both parties if you’re not putzing around searching for some obscure for Spanish word for like five extra minutes when you both speak fluent English.
8.       Don’t forget sunscreen. Especially if your skin burns like an Eskimo in the Sahara.
9.       Don’t get ocean water in your mouth unless you’re ready to for your tongue to sizzle like bacon on a frying pan.
10.   DON’T worry too much. Relax and have a good time. I’m a compulsive worrier, and it’s important to remember that you’re going to BE OKAY, no matter what challenge you are facing. 

Well, that’s all folks. Adios! 

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