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Learning Italian Abroad

Najifa Hussain, ’25, is a Management Information Systems major studying at the American University of Rome this Fall 2022.

Before coming abroad to Rome, my knowledge of the Italian language was extremely minimal. I did try my hand at daily Duolingo lessons on my phone, but its not easy to learn an entire language when you’re not really hearing it everyday. I knew I would be slightly okay because I had decided to take an Intro to Italian Language class as a part of my curriculum here and after over three months here now, I can say that this class has truly come in handy as I continue to embed myself in the everyday life of living in Rome, Italy.

Many of us probably already know the basic Italian terms such as “ciao (hello),” and “grazie (thank you)” and that was actually pretty much a lot of what I knew before coming here. I quickly knew I wanted to be able to learn all the greetings and at least learn some conversational Italian as soon as I could. Luckily, in my very first Italian class we were taught all the basics we needed to know and how to properly pronunciate. The next morning I was able to go to the cafe underneath my apartment and order my usual of a cappuccino and croissant fully in Italian. When the workers acknowledged that I did very good, or in their words “molto bene,” it felt nice knowing that they appreciated that I was trying to learn their language and I felt more confident attempting to try to speak a new language.

I think it is really important being able to learn at least a little bit of the language of the country you are studying abroad in if you can. I have realized that the more you practice, the more you remember and thus the language starts to stick with you. Overtime, I took a chance at ordering my meal at restaurants in Italian and also saying my address whenever a taxi was called and I needed to get home. It becomes easier on both me and whoever I interact with when they are able to understand me at least a little and vice-versa. I will say knowing parts of the language, also makes me feel as if I really did value my time abroad and take in the time I had here to feel as much like a local I could. Although learning a new language can be tough at times, I can say that the outcome for yourself if truly worth it and the gratitude from locals is an even greater plus.

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