ACCENT Community College Scholarship: Expectations and Assimilation

Today, we join Santa Barbara City College student Rachael Sincavage as she embarks on her adventures in Rome. Though she expected to immediately start blending in, Rachael found that assimilation and language learning are slow– and often stressful– processes. Determined to keep an optimistic outlook, Rachael will continue to learn and grow in Italy!

As I embark on this new life-changing adventure, I’m finding my expectations are very different from the reality I’m experiencing. I’d hoped I would arrive and be so immersed in the culture that I would automatically, almost magically, be transformed into an authentic Italian. I imagined looking, dressing, and speaking like an Italian. This has not been the case.

Try as I might, the Italian people have an elegant style I just haven’t been graced with. The way these beautiful women glide across the cobblestone streets for miles on end in their high-heeled boots leaves me absolutely in awe. Personally, I prefer wearing my Converse shoes if I’m going to be walking for miles all over the city, but part of me longs to be as graceful as they are; alas, reality always differs from expectation.

The one skill I had most hoped to acquire immediately was being able to communicate in Italian. However, this has proved harder than I initially believed. I am finding learning a new language difficult, and since it’s easier to speak English, I automatically lapse into it. I can understand more Italian than I can speak, so I’m getting by. Still, I had hoped to be further along in my communication skills. I keep reminding myself that the important thing is that I’m trying.

To be completely honest, my initial feelings  have turned from excitement to a sort of unnerving anxiety. I always have this emotion when starting a difficult class, so it’s not unfamiliar. The way I’ve managed to do well in the past is to throw myself into a situation, give it 100%, and continually put in effort. I’m not going to let anxiety alter my experiences here!

I’ve been looking forward to this trip my whole life. I never anticipated actually having my dreams come true and being provided an opportunity to go abroad, but here I am, living out my fantasy. Actually, it’s better than what I fantasized: I’m leaving behind my ethnocentric preconceived notions and learning there are many ways to live, one not being better than another. They’re just different.

~Rachael Sincavage, Santa Barbara City College

ACCENT is proud to support the Community College Scholarship as part of our commitment pledge to IIE Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to help more U.S. students gain international experience through study abroad programs.