The Croft Magazine // Epigram Travel is looking at students' experiences on their year abroad to help prospective year abroad students get to grips with this unique yet daunting opportunity. In this edition of Epigram's Guide to the Year Abroad we focus on Italy.
Florence (3rd year French and Italian) is working in a hotel in Palermo.
Working in Italy is unquestionably a fantastic opportunity in which you will gain some invaluable experience. It is a chance to experience authentic Italian culture outside of the university classroom. I managed to secure myself a paid placement with accommodation included. This is actually quite rare, and aside from those who had chosen the same internship as me, I know of nobody else who has found a paid placement.
The primary objective of a year abroad is to improve the level of your target language, and throughout my second year of university I had allowed myself to presume that this great improvement would happen almost effortlessly, and that within a month or so of immersion I would be completely confident speaking Italian. Firstly, I was wrong in assuming that I would be fully exposed to Italian language and culture all of the time. In my job placement I have been speaking almost entirely in English. The likelihood is that you will have been hired as a result of English being your native language. However, I still found myself speaking Italian in less stressful environments, such as offering directions, ordering coffee, and with new friends I made.
That being said, my internship involves a large variety of roles including marketing, providing tours of a historical palazzo and taking payments which makes the job more enjoyable and exciting. The large variety also insures means that as interns we learn about a lot of tasks, so it is easy to find something that you enjoy or are good at.
Working, instead of studying, allows you to gain a greater understanding of what you are capable of, as well as what you like and dislike. Through my internship in an hotel I have gained a greater insight into hospitality, which consequently has allowed me to conclude that this is not a field in which I would want to work long term!
Working also means that you get to work with a variety of people from different backgrounds, for me this has been an undoubtable highlight. In my placement, I work alongside people from Portugal, the United Kingdom, Italy and the Philippines, with ages ranging from 20-85, and I adore every single one of them!
Having a thick skin definitely helps when living in Italy. When working in the south, it is not unusual even in business for someone to raise their voice or gesture angrily to display their frustration. I was also not prepared for the honesty and candour of many Italians, including my boss! From politics to my own appearance and weight, no topic is off-limits. If your co-workers shout and appear angry or irritated or even make a comment that you didn’t expect, remember not to take it personally, just brush it off and next time join in! I’m having so much fun working in Italy and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering it!
*Featured Image credit: Unsplash / Mauricio Artieda *
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