A few weeks before leaving the United States, I had several plans to obtain a basic grasp of the Italian language in preparation for my time in Rome. However, after learning the meaning and pronunciation of Buongiorno on Mango and never again opening the app, I showed up to Italy with a severely limited knowledge of the language. Over the past three weeks, due to my daily Italian courses (as well as general life in Rome), I have been able to greatly improve my Italian language skills, and my journey with the language has surprisingly been one of the most enjoyable parts of my time abroad thus far.
In my first week in Rome, I stumbled through social interactions with locals, doing my best to employ my limited knowledge of Italian whenever possible. However, every time I had to resort to speaking in English – which occurred more often than not – I was left feeling discouraged, but still hopeful. So, after successfully ordering my first meal while solely speaking Italian, I felt on top of the world; and this feeling of accomplishment has continued to grow as I spend more time in Italy. From understanding announcements made in Italian at the train stations to greeting and completing simple transactions at museums, stores, and restaurants, each day seems to contribute to my confidence and skills relating to speaking Italian.
Although I knew that learning Italian would help me feel more ‘at home’ in Rome, I had no idea that it would prove to be such a valuable experience for me, especially so early on. Even more, I feel that being able to interact with this city and the locals in the native language has helped keep me from experiencing too much homesickness, which has been an enormous benefit. Because of the positive experience that I have had in just the past three weeks with Italian, I am immensely excited to continue learning more about the language and being able to use my knowledge in daily life.