Italian-American Student Spotlight: Stefanie Bacarella, JCU Study Abroad Spring 2015

As an Italian-American from Long Island, my semester at JCU is a chance to explore my parents’ Italian heritage and truly experience Italy’s culture, language, and cuisine. Both of my parents are from Palermo, Sicily, and traveled throughout Italy before moving to the United States. I grew up hearing stories of their memories back in Italy, and by the time I got to college I was anxious to leave for my study abroad experience.

All countries come with some cliché or another. To me, Italy was the land of amazing food… and a place where no one spoke any English. I was completely right about the food, which I have been enjoying con gusto since the moment I stepped on Italian soil. I was surprised, however, to discover that many Romans do speak English, since Rome is such an international city. I still find myself facing challenges during typical daily tasks that require some Italian language skills, but it has allowed even grocery shopping to become an adventure.

Aside from the language, I am learning a lot about Italian culture. I am glad I decided to take an Intercultural Communications course during my time abroad. I think the class would have been interesting anywhere else in the world, but the experience to take this class abroad while I am actually immersed in Italy’s culture has been priceless. The class has allowed me to gain a greater understanding of the Italian way of living, which I had only known through my parents’ accounts up to now- even small differences that I never knew about, such as the way that Italians consider a cappuccino to be only a breakfast drink, while in America we order cappuccinos at any time of the day.

My Italian heritage has always been part of me, but at home my Italian culture has become Americanized in many ways. Here in Italy, I take full advantage of the slow-paced lifestyle Italians have mastered. Americans typically work straight through the day; if anything, they will take a half hour lunch break. In America, I feel the people over-work themselves. In Italy, many shops close between 1 and 4 pm for a leisurely lunch break. I absolutely love siesta; I think that it is great that the Italians take some personal time off in the early afternoon. They know how to live!



Stefanie Bacarella
Communications Major, Psychology and Marketing Minor
JCU Study Abroad Spring 2015
Pace University
Class of 2016
New York City, NY

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