When I was in Italy, I made a day trip out to the countryside. They had a big wine festival: it was the region of Italy where they harvest all of the Prosecco. And they had this big party basically in a huge barn with like, 200 people. And I knew one person there, a friend of mine. She was basically taking me to see her hometown.
Imagine: 200 people, none of them speak English except for me and my friend. I'm a foot taller than everybody else, red hair, you know, sticking out like a sore thumb. And we were sitting at the table eating pasta fagioli. I had never tried it before. It was fantastic. I gobbled it up. And there was some sauce left on the plate, so I reached and took a french fry and I was going to scoop up some of the sauce.
For any Italians reading this, they already know what the reaction was. The cousin of the person I was with ended up slapping my hand because it's such a faux pas over there. Everybody was, you know, kind of joking, but kind of serious like, "You can't just dip anything in anything! That's the most American thing I've ever seen!" Just a long table of Italians, jaws dropped. They all just gasped in horror.
I think it's really good and healthy to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Sometimes it's involves falling on your face a few times… but just the fact that, you know, I could really pick myself up, drop myself in a place that's so foreign and not only figure my way around, but have a really deeply awesome experience and meet lots of friends and have tons of fun and make all of these memories... I think I sort of learned I can rely on myself more than I used to think.
--Alex Rinkus, JD Student, Law School