Living in a country where you don't speak the language is difficult, but not impossible. You pick up a few words here, some grammar there, and your Italian professor meows at you when you get something wrong (that's another story.)
After a while you get used to the anonymity, the idea that no one around you can understand you and you can't understand them. It becomes less and less of a problem. Of course, it still would be easier if I did speak Italian. Often times, Italian culture and language clash very loudly and incoherently together in a cacophony of wild gestures, facial expressions and words (Italians are very expressive.)
One time I was in the grocery store, biding my time in line when the cashier and a customer started arguing. The arguing escalated and became very loud. Then the others in line started yelling too. Everyone was yelling and I was there, doe-eyed and afraid, not knowing what the argument was about or why everyone was getting involved. Should I leave? Was there about to be some sort of riot of which my American sensibilities had no part?
At the height of the argument and my anxiety, the crowd simultaneously broke into hysterical laughter. Something very amusing had just taken place, and I cursed myself for not speaking the language!