Learning Italian is One Thing...
Learning Italian is one thing; learning how to use your Italian to initiate conversations with locals is another. But if studying abroad does anything for you, it gives you confidence to conquer foreign situations without ever breaking a sweat. It gives you the confidence to fully immerse yourself in a city that is not your own.
A couple of weeks ago, a few friends in my photography class and I passed a store with a man working on a loom inside. We all stopped in front of the store, mesmerized by his actions. In an effort to immerse myself in the Sienese culture, I told my friends I was going to go inside to ask the man if I could take a photo of him at work.
My friends followed me into the store and we began to photograph him and his store full of handmade scarves, jackets, and hats. We eventually started up a conversation with the man, Antonio, and his wife who both own the store. After talking with them a bit, he gestured at me to sit on the bench to work with the loom. I carefully slid onto the bench as he started to explain to me, in full Italian, how to use it. I understood enough to accomplish stringing together a few lines of the material. I now not only have more confidence to initiate conversations with Italians, but I learned a cool new skill! You may never know what Siena has to offer you without some confidence, a little Italian, and the willingness to fail, try again, and succeed.