Going into this trip knowing it was my first time visiting Europe, and really my first time abroad, culture shock made me a little nervous.  It was something I wanted to try my best to avoid in order to have the best possible time in Italy.  I have also traveled to Costa Rica on a study abroad trip and the program was very accommodating, reducing the culture shock.  For this trip I knew I would be traveling more and on my own so I tried to prepare myself a little better.  The program helpfully provided good information on some of the differences between Italian culture and American culture that I made sure to be familiar with, in order to try and show respect to the locals.  I also wanted to be able to at least be able to exchange pleasantries to the locals since we would be seeing some on a regular basis, so I learned the basic greetings and while I was there developed some language to communicate on a very basic level.  So I went in a little prepared, attempting to make the best of my experience in the smaller town setting of Cortona.  Much to our luck the people of Cortona and most of Italy were very accommodating to English, which made the program run smoothly.  Also, by learning some of the manners associated with Italian culture, I was able to make friends with some of the local shop owners, restaurants, and others that enhanced my experience so much.  They were all very nice and allowed us to get a unique experience living in the town for a month.  Despite my best efforts some culture shock was experienced but I’ll consider them learning experiences.