Reflection on Relying on Others by Cyril Langston

College is seen for many as a time of independence- the first time you’re away from your house, your pets, your parents. Study abroad is taking this independence to another level by going to a place where you’re immersed in a completely different culture. For me, and I know for many others, a semester abroad is seen as a time to grow and learn about yourself, so I was ready to go in and be on my own.

When I arrived in Florence, Italy, I realized that things were more different than I expected them to be. Even something as simple and necessary as going to the grocery store was a completely new experience, because I didn’t know where anything was and couldn’t read any of the labels. Ordering coffee, something I didn’t even have to think about at home, was hard too, because there were different social rules in place that I never even considered, like no cappuccinos after 11am and no iced coffee ever. Even though I was having a good experience, I was overwhelmed by basic day-to-day activities I needed to learn how to do comfortably if I was going to make it through the semester.

Luckily for me, I had 21 built in support systems: the College of Charleston students and professors who were in Florence with me. I went in knowing almost no one, and left with a whole group of people I know I can call if I ever needed anything, even once we’re back in Charleston. The girls living in my apartment and I braved the grocery store together for the first couple of times until we got the hang of it. I made my first friends by laughing about whether it would be embarrassing to go to an American themed diner for comfort food. From finding our way home after our phones died to figuring out which pasta was which on a restaurant menu, we held each other up and helped each other through the entire process. I didn’t expect to gain such a large family in Italy, but I am forever grateful for my built in taste of home.

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