As this internship has progressed, and I have been more assertive with my communication and insight, this museum has evolved into a home in Arezzo for me. I am comforted by the history that surrounds me, blown away by the hardworking nature of my supervisors, and have seen the impact that my internship has on the community. I feel more confident in the opinions I can share, and I am being utilized more and more each day as I am learning the ins and outs of this unique and eclectic museum.
These past couple weeks I have moved from working on a visitor response survey, to restructuring the tours given at the museum, and also creating a workbook for kids so they can have an engaging experience with the antiques. I am getting to work with research, how guests perceive the museum around them, demographics, social media, and trying to quantify feelings, and it has so far been very fulfilling work. My next steps will be working on giving the tours myself, and gathering and interpreting the data from the surveys that are being completed. At times planning can be difficult; it is always a puzzle when we are comparing my class and meeting schedule to the museums hours and event schedule… But when I am working in the museum, I am lucky to be very passionate about the work that I am doing, and I always leave feeling accomplished.
Over the past few weeks of trial and error, I believe I am settling into the “feeling at home” phase of the cultural adjustment process. My “honeymoon” phase was quick but sweet as I was touring the museum and gallery, and getting to learn about the antiques that I would be writing about. The “culture shock” hit very quickly… As I would be greeted by guests, but could only hold small talk in Italian, it hit me how out of my comfort zone I was. My “gradual adjustment” to this new home of mine grew when I started to focus on the work that I was trying to complete, and challenging myself in phrases of Italian as I would hear them being spoken in the work place.
It Italy there are many phrases that can be useful in a working environment, such as simply saying “In bocca al lupo,” to wish someone good luck. “One example of a workplace conversation could be as follows:
Jess: “Vuoi che venga domani presto?”
Elisabetta: “Sì, Chi dorme non piglia pesci!”
Jess: “Va bene! Perché spero di finire il mio progetto.”
Elisabetta: “Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato.”
Jess: “Vero, e questo progetto può richiedere tempo!”
In this conversation, Elisabetta is using a common Italian saying to let me know that I should come in early tomorrow, “because he who sleeps cannot catch fish.” And, if I know my project is going to take a long time, I should be in early to prepare, because it is best to be “forewarned to be forearmed.”
It is sometimes very difficult to feel at home when you are in a foreign place where you do not speak the language. Trying to learn a language is hard from scratch because “tra il dire e il fare c’é di mezzo il mare.” It is one thing to say you are going to learn another language, but it is a much harder task to commit to practicing it often and being open to embarrassment. It is all about perspective when you are learning or teaching something new. When there is miscommunication, or you are not understanding what your supervisor is trying to convey, it is important to not take things too personally. Work hard on what you can, memorize phrases and a lot of hand gestures, and be proactive and assertive in your learning. You will start to feel at home in no time.