I was someone who decided to study abroad last minute, on a whim, and with a desire to see the world. When it came down to deciding where I would study abroad, I didn’t have too many specifications and I was not too picky; anywhere was exciting!
When I talked to my advisor, I found that the Richmond in Rome Summer II Program was at the perfect time to fit my summer schedule. Not to mention Rome, the Eternal City, is a place full of historical and mesmerizing sites to see. It didn’t take long for me to sign up and start packing!
One thing I did not really take into consideration was the cuisine. Italy is the land of pasta, pizza, breas- what’s not to love?! Where most people would see Italian cuisine as one of the biggest perks, I realized I had a problem I never thought I would have to deal with: would I find anything to eat?
I, like a few other girls on my trip, have a gluten intolerance. What that means is that if I eat any wheat, barley, or malt, I’ll have a stomach ache that could last a few days. Even though I had pretty much accepted that I would be eating salads for my month abroad, I turned to Google in hopes of figuring out how to also enjoy the pastas of Italy.
What I found through my research, and month abroad, was that the Italians are superb at helping those with intolerances. They are very informed and more than willing to make accommodations so that any person can enjoy the delicious dishes of Italy. All I had to do was say the phrase, “Senza glutine?” (“Gluten free?”) and the cooks would let me know what meals I could eat.
If there is anything I learned from my experience, it is that with a little effort on my part, the restaurants were more than happy to help me out. When I had first arrived and would ask, “What is gluten free?” I would get a lot of blank stares. The phrase was just not familiar to them. As soon as I learned how to say it in Italian, I was getting dishes of pizza, pasta, and even senza glutine cones for my gelato!
Although language barriers will exist all over, I have found that people are more than happy to help- and that made my trip just a little bit sweeter.