I’m originally from Chicago, and grew up in the Mid-West all my life. I go to college in Texas, which I love, but it’s a different world all in its own. And now I’m in Rome. Over the past few years I’ve been introduced to so many different cultures and ways of life. That being said, Rome and Italy are extremely different than both cultures I’ve experienced thus far.
Italians are known for their lax attitude on life, which is obviously completely opposite from the “American Dream” and the highly competitive culture that I’ve grown up with. Many Italians take a mid-day break from around 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. where most shops close, giving the owners an opportunity to enjoy their lunch and maybe even a siesta. Stores never have hours posted outside, and if the store makes enough profit to breakeven for the month, they can choose to close down until the next month! Just a tad different than the money-obsessed American culture.
Besides the financial situation, the Italian way of viewing life is also significantly different than the American culture that I’m used to. There is an Italian saying called “Dolce Far Niente” which means pleasantly doing nothing. How incredible, and yet it truly emulates the Italian way of thinking and living. Americans always think we have to earn a break or indulgence. Italians, on the other hand, understand that life is a blessing, the “sweetness of life.” So, I’ve been enjoying this way of living by treating myself to a piece of chocolate, or enjoying a glass of wine more often than I would in the states. And it’s been wonderful.
The Italian culture is completely opposite that what I’m normally used to. They are way more passionate, lax, and hospitable than I ever expected. While my adjustment to the culture has not been easy in the slightest, it’s been an amazing and challenging adventure. Seeing this Italian way of life has given me perspective on how I run my own life, and how I could do with a few more siestas and a little less stress.
Ellie is a current student at Baylor University studying at John Cabot University (JCU) in Italy during the Fall 2014 term.