Real Life FaceTime

I arrived in Milano with three bags and only two hands to carry them, and the 
moment I realized I had to take a train to get to my homestay I had the typical oh-
shit-I-want-to-go-home moment. I thought of every possible reason why going to 
Italy was the wrong move for me: I didn’t speak a lick of Italian and my plan to learn 
basic phrases before leaving never happened, I love carbs way to much and will look 
like an oompa loompa next to the Italian models, I didn’t know if I would have a 
good host family, and so on an so fourth. 
Now, just over one full month into my program, I am so thankful for the guy on my 
program (yeah, still can’t remember his name) who offered to carry one of my bags 
and I am beyond thankful for getting on that train. I hauled over 100 pounds of 
luggage (don’t worry my next article will be on packing tips) and arrived sweaty at 
my apartment in Milano, where my adventure began. 
Granted it’s only been a month, I’ve started to pick up on some of the cultural 
differences between the U.S. and Italy. Our first day, the program director gave us an 
hour presentation on some of these cultural differences we would be experiencing. 
Though I feel asleep for three-quarters of it, I did catch him saying before my quick 
shuteye how in America, people live to work, while in Italy, people work to live
Though I did feel like the comment was a vast generalization about two very 
complex cultures, I did feel though as a Haverford student, I know how tough life can 
get, especially at our school. The cycle seems to go something like: stressing about 
schoolwork, stressing about extra-curricular activities or sports, stressing about not 
having enough time, stressing then eating, stressing about stress-eating, then 
stressing more until you watch Netflix and not get anything done. In essence, 
Haverford kids bust their asses. 
Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to work hard, achieve our goals, and 
maybe ending up with a little extra cash in our pockets, but while we plunder 
ourselves in the endless mountains of work, we sometimes forget the value of 
human relationships with family and friends. Here in Italy, people work hard, but 
they work to live comfortably. And in doing so, they find themselves with more free 
time. But unlike Americans, Italian free time does not consist of binge watching 
Netflix (because you can’t with the slow wifi) or snapchatting with your bff who 
lives in the next dorm over (snapchat is also not a thing here). In Italy, free time 
means FaceTime, but actual face-to-face time. 
Italians love socializing. With bars and cafes littering each street and corner, people 
are always looking to engage in actual human contact and conversation. 
Businessmen don’t eat at their cubicles or desks, they go out to lunch with their 
associates. Even shops close down during lunch hours so that they can enjoy their 
mealtime with friends. Every night, I am consistently amazed at how crowded all the 
bars are during aperitivo (basically Italian happy hour), and how people are not out 
to get white-girl-wasted, but they’re there to enjoy each other’s company.  
While I am loving the less-than-one-hour-of-homework-a-day (if any at all) lifestyle, 
I know this is unsustainable and the time to go out 4+ nights a week will soon 
disappear once back in America. But even when I begin to wallow in the depths of 
stress and work again, I want to make sure I get my daily dose of FaceTime in each 
day. Whether it be taking an hour to eat a meal with friends (where no stress talk is 
involved) or even meeting and talking to a new person, it’s important to take time to 
get out and interact with others.
Because the work to live mentality runs deep back at home, I’m not trying to 
insinuate that everyone should slack off and neglect their responsibilities. It’s 
important to work hard, but work to live happily and comfortably, with a balance 
between fun and responsibility. More importantly, make sure you’re getting in the 
real life FaceTime with those you love and even those you don’t know, because 
maintaining these relationships will go a long way.