A Slower Pace

by Kellie Bramlet (Marquette University)
MY LIFE IS RULED by my planner. My classes and work schedule dominate my days. Post-it notes stuck to my laptop remind of my appointments and assignments, while ink sprawled across my hands echo the same messages. Free time is a luxury that I rarely see, and sometimes I feel like I can't get a chance to catch my breath.

But here, life is slower. And of all of Italian culture's quirks and customs, I know this is one that I will struggle to adjust to. Of course, this has it's benefits. I love having two hours for lunch,
and I can't think of a better way to start each morning than sitting outside and slowly sipping espresso. But my instincts are always to rush. Walking to class, I brush past the residents of Cagli as they stroll along. In the afternoons, I want to take my lunch and walk as I eat it. And I want to pay for my food before I sit down to eat it. As of today, I have forgotten to pay at Cafe d'Italia on two occasions. Both times, I've returned hours later, needless to say embarrassed. But Jake, the owner, is always nice about it — OK, well, the first time he pretended he was going to strangle me, but he was joking... I think.

I have trouble balancing the laid-back lifestyle and meeting the program's deadlines. I crave immediacy while working on my articles. I want to set up an interview and finish it quickly. I don't want to wait to on an interpreter or have to schedule around a riposa. I want to know I will meet my deadlines.

But I'm not blind to the benefits of the Italian pace of living. There's peace in the rhythm of the slow saunter down the streets. And not suffering from a stress-induced heart attack at the age 35 is always a plus. I can learn a lot from Italian culture. But I'll have to slow down if I want to see the lessons.