As previously mentioned, my study abroad friends and I experienced "the Bottom of the W" when we were in Sorrento, Pompeii, and Capri.
The Term "bottom of the W" is the way DePaul study abroad explains culture shock. Due to my Italian American upbringing, I figured that the differences between Italy and America would not be too bad. I was wrong, especially when visiting Sorrento.
In our Italian culture class, we were warned that there were cultural practices that differed between the two countries, especially in regards to food. Our dinner in Sorrento was a prime example of this. For starters, Italians get offended if you do not finish everything that is put in front of you - to them, it means that whoever prepared the food is not a good cook.
Additionally, our courses all contained seafood. Not many of us on the trip liked seafood. I was a good sport and tried some of it - octopus for example. Not a fan, but I tried it.
The main course is where some of us lucked out and some of us did not. We were told to choose between assorted seafood and steak. Some of us sat with our Italian culture professor and she ordered us fried calamari and shrimp. The rest of our group mostly opted for the assorted seafood, and were served fish...with faces.
In Italy, fish is served with the face still in tact because a fish's eyes determine its freshness (fun fact from one of my cousins!). However, at the moment this was a horrifying experience.
This dinner, combined with our late night adventures documented in my previous post, brought all 16 of us to the "bottom of our Ws" at the same time. Unusual for a study abroad group, but it bonded us together.
Sorrento opened my eyes to the differences between Italy and America. As a second generation Italian American, I thought I knew so much about Italy. My first full week there showed me that the two countries have many differences. However, culture shock is completely normal, and only temporary!