One thing I was unprepared for living in a foreign country is how tired I would get of the simple daily complications.
First, as an introverted person who spends most days isolated in her own activities and only engaging with her own immediate family members, constantly having to be “on” has been exhausting. I think it is something that has been overlooked in most study abroad prep blog posts and articles I read before coming to Italy.
Next, on top of the exhaustion that is social interactions with the study abroad group, there is the fatigue that comes with dealing with the good and bad customs of the country you are in. For example, in Florence, the sidewalks are tiny and no one moves for each other. It’s a constant game of “chicken.”
I’ve stopped moving and am maintaining my space 90% of the time. But even this makes me tired. I don’t want to have to flip on my “go big to go home” switch every time I take a walk somewhere. I just want to walk without thinking about it. Common courtesy isn’t common in Florence amongst those walking, riding bikes, or driving.
A third challenge I’m dealing with is the weariness associated with the language barrier. I’m tired of trying to say buongiorno. And salve. And arrividerchi. So I’ve just stopped. If I have to use my hands to point at everything I want to order and/or come up with some made up sign language to to try and communicate; I’m just not going to. Communicate, that is. It’s easier to come home and eat fruit for lunch bs going out. Of course that entails a 20 min walk in the heat and/or figuring out the busses. So. Also not a simple decision.
Another challenge that has been especially hard this week is the heat of Florence – sans any air conditioning. I sweat when I’m sleeping and I wake up tired and grumpy and covered in mosquito bites from sleeping with all the windows open. The school has no a/c and no fans and the classes are 2-3hrs long. Even the instructors complain. Twenty hot sweaty bodies in one room is not as exciting as it might sound! And oh yeah – I’m way behind on school work because it’s too dang hot to think!
And lastly, trying to run a family in Texas while tied down in Florence is stressful. Coordinating with Fall and doctors has been difficult. When I do have downtime from school it’s spent trying to call the orthodontist or that spinal surgeon. It’s just a lot to juggle.
I’ve reached the low point of the “study abroad culture shock bell curve” and I’m just trying to be patient with myself so I can move through to the next phase. But today I’ve had to push back tears several times and put myself down for a nap. Naps are a good cure for most tough days.
Looking forward to getting through this week and feeling more confident and better adjusted! In the mean time, buonanotte!