La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life

Tara P. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Masters School in New York.

Europe is romanticized by all: The United Kingdom for its monarchy and rich culture; France for its fashion and wine; Italy for its cuisine and art. The United States is known for commerce and opportunity. Entrepreneurs believe that doing business in America is a chance to make it in “the new world.” 

Protestants came to the Americas to spread their religion. They had a strong hold on society, teaching “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Protestants espouse diligence, discipline, frugality, and non-stop work. These values are still strongly held in North America. 

Growing up in New York, I was surrounded by perpetual movement. It's “the city that never sleeps.” Everyone is working for themselves: to be the best. New Yorkers are focused on the future and building a better life. 

My lunch break at school in New York lasts 45 minutes. After grabbing a snack, I spend most of that time in the library completing my homework. In Italy, my lunch break is at least an hour. During this time, I leave campus and explore my new surroundings, stumbling upon restaurants to sit at and enjoy a meal with friends. 

In English you “spend time, but in Italian you “pass time.” This concept represents an Italian world view, which emphasizes leisure and enjoying life in the present. Being abroad has allowed me to have a break from the grind. I am learning to live. Although not every moment is filled with excitement, I am growing more mindful of the world around me. People here are more content. They appear happier. 

When visiting Rome on a school trip, I caught myself shifting back into my old ways. I put on my “city walk.” I am used to running down Fifth Avenue, rapidly moving my feet to keep up with the crowd of people around me. Once I had this realization, I paused and began to walk slower. Now I was able to take in what was happening around me. I passed people sitting at cafes; boys on motor bikes whipped past me, store owners greeted me with a warm “buongiorno.” 

I have realized that this will be my life for the next nine months. I took a random turn left, not knowing where the narrow streets were headed. Around the bend, the world lit up. A huge white structure was reflecting the light from the sunny day. I had stumbled across the Trevi Fountain. An iconic destination in Rome. Like the rushing water, Italy feels timeless.

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