ROME, Italy- “Dolce far niente” is an Italian saying I learned in Rome. It means “the sweetness of not worrying.” Traveling to a different country far away from home, opens your mind to new adventures, and gets you out of your comfort zone. For scope, I come from a small city in Mexico called Cd. Juarez, it borders with El Paso, Texas in the U.S.

During the summer of 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to Rome, Italy for two months. Those were the most exciting and challenging days of my life. It was my first big journey without my parents, I was traveling with my best friend, and the only thing I knew how to say in Italian was “pizza”.

Adapting to another culture, language, and customs was hard the first few days. In Italian the word “piano” means different things. For example, “prima piano” means “first floor.” You can also use the word piano, referring to the instrument, and they use the phrase “piano piano” to say “slow down”. This was really confusing for me, because I only knew “piano” as the instrument, so when I learned that piano means also floor it was okay. Then my professor said “Sofia, piano piano per favore” I just understood “Sofia, floor floor please”.

Usually you would think that Italian and Spanish are pretty similar, but I discovered they are not. The first weeks I thought I spoke Italian just by saying Spanish words with an Italian accent and motioning my hands like them. Whomever heard me, just stared at me with a confused face, but after a while, I could communicate myself in their language.

Things you have to know about Italians
They truly love their culture, and they are right. Italian culture is so rich in many forms, and they know everything about it. Another thing, Italians always greet with a kiss, that was normal for me because I’m a Latina, but for my American friends, it was something awkward. They do not eat Spaghetti with meatballs, that’s actually an American invention. Do not expect crazy ingredients like chicken on pizza. And finally the most important of all, IT IS NEVER TOO MUCH when it comes to parmesan cheese. In Italy the waiter it’s not going to judge you if you ask for extra cheese, in fact they will give you a smile in approval.

Putting the language aside, getting to know all these amazing places the cities offer was something beautiful. The first time I saw the Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia, was something that impacted me. There it was, this huge monument, so marvelous, full of stories, and all I could think was “How many stories has this monument lived to tell?” It’s something amazing just to be there, contemplating, imagining when it was built, how the people lived in those days, etc.

Rome is full of history, anywhere you are has an enthralling background. Besides the monuments and the piazzas, my favorite place in Rome was this scenic terrace called “Il Giardino degli aranci,” The Orange Garden in English. This was a magical place, where you could see the city of Rome and the Vatican becoming one. Being there provided you with an enormous sense of tranquility emanating from your surroundings.

My favorite part of the day was Rome at night. It was the only moment you could really connect with the city, because it was so calm. Just walking on the side of the Tevere River, looking at all the lights it offers was something great.

Getting to know another culture different than yours is something amazing. Every culture has something to teach, in this case Italian people are always going to have your back. They always celebrate everything and look at the positive side of every situation. Like their famous saying I opened this article with, we all need to stop worrying about everything. Life is what happens every day, instead of worrying about tomorrow just enjoy what you have now.