Bison Abroad | Italians Talk with Their Hands

Upon touching down in Italy, I had no idea what to expect from the locals or the city of Milan. Not being accustomed to big city life, I knew there was going to be a learning curve for the next few months.

From the moment I landed, one thing was obvious: the Italians are a very enthusiastic people. Although I couldn’t understand what people were saying (for the most part), I could often figure out what they were saying just by watching their hands.

We make jokes about how the Italians talk with their hands, so I assumed it was an exaggerated stereotype, but the more time I spend with Italians, the more I learn that it is 100 percent true (and the more I speak Italian, the more I use my hands).

Representatives from the school picked us up from the airport, and took us to our apartments. Street signs were different, the roads were different and I couldn’t understand most of what people said to me. I started to feel a bit nervous about my decision. I honestly had the thought, “What the heck am I doing here?”

By the end of the second day, this anxiousness was shattered.

The next morning, all of the international students went to the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore for the beginning of orientation week. Every Italian student and faculty member was eager to help us integrate into the community, and always had different events for us to participate in during the evenings. Nothing made me feel more at home than going out to karaoke, and singing Oasis’s “Wonderwall” with 30+ people at once.

Everyone here has been beyond friendly, and ready to help all the international students with anything we need.

Milan has so much to offer. I know we will never have a dull moment.

Ryan Kockelman is an NDSU student studying abroad in Italy who contributes articles sharing his experiences.

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