The “Culture Shocks” I Have Felt This Year by Alessia Cesari

The “Culture Shocks” I Have Felt This Year by Alessia Cesari

Saturday, November 6, 2021: The “Culture Shocks” I Have Felt This Year

 By Alessia Cesari

What could be better than studying abroad? Surely all students at CCI can agree with me that this is certainly one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences ever. Yet, most likely you will agree here that one of the biggest obstacles that students need to overcome is a kind of “cultural shock.” I began the school year as an Italian student in a period of study abroad in Ottawa, Canada and at the beginning of November I found myself as an Italian student—again—here at CCI. I can assure you that these feelings of disorientation I have experienced by suddenly being subjected to an unfamiliar culture or way of life, not once but twice, is not an urban legend. The feeling I had was just weird. One minute I was hibernating in sub-zero temperatures in a Canadian winter, waiting for what I don’t know, for months and then boom! I’m hustled back on a plane, a thousand things in front of me, including the resurgence of COVID, all at once and then I’m here in my new life…a student at an international school.

In hindsight, I already miss some of the unusual details of life in Canada. One of the most fascinating things I recall are the giant supermarkets or “box-stores”. For example, Walmart. Take me for crazy but believe me I was shocked by the amount of stuff a store could stock and the way they could sell the most random things. Walking up and down aisles that seemed to go on forever, I cannot even imagine to find in Italy, spare milk bags (possibly when the original bag springs a leak?) or in other stores I happened to come across a product called Vitality Air, literally air in a bottle. I kid you not. As a good Italian I also immediately noticed a pizza oven machine (which could bake dough in 3 minutes). I found it on one of the main streets of Ottawa. That literally shocked me...What I remember most, however, is that Canadians are definitely a very hospitable people and their sense of welcome made me immediately feel at home even at 6000 km away.

Now that I’m back in Italy I can say that I will miss a lot about Canada, like Canadian Thanksgiving, (which is celebrated on the second Monday in October not a month later like American Thanksgiving). I’m going to miss Beavertails, not the rodent kind but a large piece of fried dough sprinkled with sugar, much like Italian zeppole or crispelle. Or going camping, lighting a wood fire and preparing S'mores, a kind of chocolate-cookie treat. However short this experience was, it gave me so much joy, so many memories and much independence, helping me to understand that I can do well on my own too. We’ll see what my great Italian adventure in Lanciano will bring.