During soccer season in Europe, cities team with crowds of fanatical and dedicated fans after important games. But do Italian people share the same type of fervor for games where there is no soccer ball or field of green grass? Italy won five medals during the Olympics in Vancouver this year, including one gold. I asked my friend Octavia, a University of St. Thomas sophomore, to tell me what it was like to study abroad in Italy during the Winter Olympics.

“Studying abroad in Italy during the Olympics has definitely been different than back home. Every bar or pub you walk by has big signs advertising the broadcast of Olympic events. Every time you turn on the news or walk by a newspaper stand you see an Italian Olympic athlete being interviewed either on screen or in print. However, despite all of the Olympic excitement, people are also getting ready for the soccer cup coming up this summer. There has probably been about equal talk of both the Olympics and the qualifying games for the soccer cup. Moreover, there is a lot of rivalry between local soccer teams such as Milan and Rome—and those games carry a lot of hooligans and riots. Last week, when Greece beat Italy in a soccer game, everyone was cheering in the streets, waving flags and singing. It’s been intense. And as a study abroad student, you’re not always “in the know” about what is going on around you so it’s been kind of a culture shock in a way but also an unforgettable experience in another.”