Let’s Chat- Staring and Racism in Italy (My Personal Experiences)

Hi beautiful,

I hope the title of this post doesn’t scare you, I’m just trying to be honest in sharing everything I’m experiencing during my time in Italy. Remember when I said I hadn’t experienced anything ugly in this post, well, that has changed now, hence the reason for this post.

Let’s get into it, shall we?

The stares: Before I left for Italy, my roommate and some friends who had been warned me about the stares but I didn’t take it seriously. During orientation week, students (especially female students) asked the leaders about the stares they got from the locals. I remember one of the leaders said, ‘staring is an Italian past time’ you have to get used to it.

I think I noticed the staring late, it wasn’t until the third week of being here that I felt conscious that people were watching me. It was irritating to say the least. I understand staring out of curiosity, we all do it, especially coming from Nigeria. However, the staring in Rome is different, it is uncomfortable most times and I don’t like it. Especially not when I’m on the bus tired from classes and hungry.

Though the staring is not comfortable, the worst feeling I’ve experienced in Italy is an inferior feeling. I was on the train one Sunday, this lady’s luggage fell next to me and she screamed. I didn’t realize she screamed because her luggage touched me until later. When an African man on the train tried to help her with the luggage, she hurled some insults at him, called him a bastard, and got off the next train stop. That was my first up close encounter with racism and I was disgusted. It broke my heart to see people treating others like me with pure disgust in an Age of Enlightenment.

Another incidence happened during my weekend in Salerno. It was the Sunday we were coming back to Rome. My friends and I (all dark skinned) were walking to the train station. This lady walking beside us stopped and shouted at each one of us in Italian. Although we didn’t understand what she said, it was very obvious that they were unkind and hateful words. Imagine how I felt after. It took a while for the stain of that encounter to leave me.

I understand that not everyone is racist, trust me, I get that, but since I’m documenting my experiences, I’m sharing some ugly ones I’ve had. I’m still very excited to be in Italy and I love it here, but in addition to that, there are some things that have been unpleasant about living here. I don’t want to only share the highlights of my trips, I aim to keep it real. I hope this does not discourage you from visiting or studying abroad in Italy or anywhere else. Everywhere has good and bad at the end of the day, just be prepared for both. Read my previous posts to find out why you should study abroad if you can!

Also, I want to hear about some unpleasant experiences you’ve had if you’re living or studying abroad. Feel free to share your highlights too!

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