Sunday, September 13, 2009

Italy vs. America

I still have a lot to post about, but I can only post a short blog now because I have (gasp!) homework. Yes, contrary to popular belief I DO have classes to go to and I do get homework. :)

Anyway, before coming to Italy I thought I'd notice more cultural differences than I actually have so far. Assimilating into life here as been easier than I thought, but there are still a few things that I've noticed that remind me that I'm not in the USA anymore.

1. Shopping carts - they charge you to use them here. I'm not sure if this is true for all Italian supermarkets, but for mine it is. It costs 1 Euro ($1.45) to use a shopping cart, but baskets are I'm sure you can guess what I use!

2. Restaurant tipping - the tip (and tax) is already included in the bill, so you only need to pay the amount on the receipt. I wish they would do this at home so we don't always have to figure out the tip.

3. Another thing about need to ask for the check, or else you'll be waiting around for hours. Literally. Italians treat themselves to long, relaxing meals so waiters know not to impose by asking if they should bring the check out. When you're ready to go you need to flag down the waiter and ask for the check...and in my experience even after doing that, it still takes him a good 10-15 minutes to bring it to you.

4. Drinking - Italians drink alcohol whenever they want (though drunkenness is very much frowned upon...guess my family wouldn't fit in here! Ha! ;)) I went into a bar (a bar in Italy is like a cafe in America) one afternoon around 3pm (during siesta time here) and there were a few men in suits (who clearly came from work) ordering drinks. Why can't America be like this?? Work until 2 or 3, take a three hour break, have a drink then work for a couple more hours. Clearly we're missing out at home. :)

5. Eating - Similar to alcohol, there is no such thing as an "inappropriate" time to eat certain foods. For example, on Friday my roommates and I went out exploring Rome. We were on our way to the Pantheon and it was around 10:30am...and you wouldn't believe how many Italians around us were eating gelato. Not that I have a problem with this at all of course :)...but you usually don't see people eating ice cream at home in the morning. Besides roommate has family here in Rome, and she says that without exaggeration they eat pasta every single day. When they came to the States to visit her in New Hampshire, they brought pasta with them and cooked it each night to eat in addition to whatever they would be having for dinner.

6. Driving - oh boy, where to start with this one? This video pretty much sums it up (it's actually a really funny video so I'd watch the whole thing, but if not then just watch the first 2 minutes because those deal with driving and public transportation...definitely watch it - it explains it better than I ever could)

...Kind of reminds you of New York driving, no? ;) I can confidently say though that Italian driving is the worst/craziest I've ever seen...there have been so many times where I cringed or had to turn away because some of the encounters between cars were SO CLOSE to being accidents, but Italian drivers don't even care (or notice?!?) No horns were honked, and none of the passengers even flinched. Italian drivers also don't really care about pedestrians either... and I can definitely relate to the bus portion of the video. I feel like I am always waiting for the bus!

7. Quiet hours - by Italian law, excessive noise is not allowed between 12:30-1:00pm, 3:30-4pm and 9:30pm-8:00am the next morning. Our program leaders warned us about this numerous times when we first arrived, but what we didn't realize what how serious the residents here would actually be about it. This morning my roommates and I had a disgruntled neighbor knocking on our door complaining and we couldn't figure out what we did wrong (we are always really quiet.) Apparently when my roommate's Uncle came to pick her up yesterday to take her to his house, he accidentally rang our neighbor's doorbell instead of ours, thus interrupting her 'siesta' (this was around 3:30pm.) Whoops...

8. Electricity - In order to save energy, Italy has this awesome system in place...if you are using over the allowed limit of energy at any time in your apartment, all of your power will automatically be shut off. Great for the Earth, not so great for the people who live here! Luckily my roommates and I haven't had any problems with this so far.

9. Laundry - like I mentioned earlier, Italian washing machines take a loooong time to complete one cycle (think 2-3 hours.) They are also noisy as hell! I got scared when I did my laundry last week because I couldn't figure out what that noise I was hearing sounded like a plane's engine getting ready to take off. Italians also don't use dryers, and aside from the fact that drying clothes on a line outside takes way longer, I actually like it! I noticed that my clothes smelled a lot fresher and more like laundry detergent than they do when I put them in the dryer at home.

10. Clothing/appearance - Italian women will always look better than American women, so if you're ever in Italy don't try to out-do them, because it doesn't work. :) Hah! Italians tend to dress more formally than we do at all times, so even on the hottest days where all of the American tourists were sweating like crazy and about to die of heat exhaustion even while wearing shorts and tank tops, the Italians looked calm, cool and collected in their long sleeved pants and shirts. Really. It must be a European thing...(which is my new catch-phrase for things that I don't understand here.)



Anonymous said...

Ok, the video on driving cars/buses was hysterical...I'm so glad to see that you're doing - gasp - homework...

Love, Mom

linanne1 said...

Ditto Annie, the video was hysterical! Danielle, be careful when you cross those streets! Consider roller skates for public transportation. Love Aunt Linda XXX

Anonymous said...

Diggsssss. So I was at the townhouses yesterday and TShan was facebooking and she showed me your blog so I had to comment since you know how stubborn I am with getting a darn facebook and this is my only means of communication with you ;) . Well for starters I miss you, but I'm glad you're enjoying yourself in Italy. The food looks amazeballs, you know me and my love affair with food. I'm a little jeal. Love all the pics you've posted and all your blog entries, I'll be keeping up with you now! Anywhoo we need to set a videochat/skype date! MISS YOU BOOO

Love, "Laur Taur" :) <3

Danielle said...

LT -- Oh ciaooooooo! Omg you would die here with the food, I am seriously going to bring you to Italy after we graduate just so you can eat haha :) Yes, we definitely need to Skype...I'll make it a point to sign onto AIM soon so we can set up a time.

Hope everything's good in LT & sure to tell Kiki I say hi! Has she been spending all of her time at the libs? I haven't heard from her on Facebook in a loooong time.