America and Italy are two different countries completely. I love America, I do, but Italy is slowly stealing my heart. I mean how can it not? Italy is home to the most beautiful and historical landmarks, the food here is the freshest I have ever eaten, and everyone seems to be so happy with their laid back personalities. There are many differences between the American and Italian cultures, and these differentiations make both countries special in their own way.
I love everything about Italy so far. I especially like how the streets are predominately made of cobblestones; I feel like I’m living in an earlier era from another period in time. Also, I love how I am able to walk everywhere I need to go. Italians living in Rome can get anywhere they need to easily without having to spend money on a car or the gas for it. This also may be why Italians seem not to be three hundred pounds even with carbs being the staple of every meal. Food ingredients in Italy are extremely fresh in comparison to America’s fatty fast food chain restaurants that are located everywhere. There are outdoor markets literally every single day in numerous popular places around Rome. Grocery stores are more like giant mazes consisting of rows and rows of different items, while in America, huge supermarkets have twenty of the same one item stacked in an organized, usually very rectangular floor layout. Americans love food, but Italians LOVE food; this passion to me is one of the main differences I can see.
In Italy, clothes dryers seem to be nonexistent, but drying racks and clothespins work just as well. You need exact change if splitting checks at restaurants when eating out with friends because the waiters do not do separate checks for your party. Oranges are blood oranges, and I absolutely love them. Italians say what is on their mind, while Americans pent up their emotions until they eventually snap. You don’t necessarily have to pay for public transportation, but you do have to be cautious of the police that patrol the buses. Stores are never open 24/7. Italians wear dark and neutral colored clothes, and they always look sophisticated. Literally no one is seen in sweatpants or hoodies, god forbid both together. Ethnic food restaurants are rare, but they are out there to find. Italian youth never seem to be in school as they are always out and about way before 3 p.m.
What stands out the most with the difference of these two cultures that I find to be interesting is the quality of life both countries display. America and Italy are composed of people who want the best life possible for themselves; people in both countries work hard in their school and careers to make a good living to have a secure life with their loved ones. My Italian friend told me that it is extremely difficult for those graduating college and young adults to get a job due to the economy, and the youth absolutely must study hard in order to have a shot. Italians go to school because it’s a necessity for their future, Americans go to school because it’s the social norm as well as to get a good career. A possible outcome of this is that there are a lot of people selling random items on the streets, especially roses and scarves. These people seem to be relentless in trying to get you to buy from them, so much that they have no shame in going up to people eating outside at restaurants.
Italians are so sweet. They make you feel beautiful by calling you “bella” out of affection, but not in the creepy way. “Take out” is uncommon but when it is, it’s called “take away”. Coins are carried everywhere; debit and credit cards are used infrequently. One can leave their car parked in the middle of a street without getting fined. American men are bold, Italian men are bolder. Drinking water comes streaming out of continuously running spouts on streets, where eco-friendly America would never have this. Wi-Fi is in select restaurants and public places, but it cannot be used when walking outside. Pancakes and waffles are not a thing here, and neither is sweet-tasting whipped cream. Italy has the freedom-to-steal mentality, and pick pocketers know police won’t do much to stop them. Americans burn themselves out worrying about the future, while Italians relax and enjoy the moment. Americans continuously run around 9-5 p.m. and then some, Italians live life at a slow pace. Overall, the Italian and American cultures are very different. I love that they are so contrasting because it makes studying abroad much more exciting when you are integrated in a whole new way of life.
Sydney is a student at University of North Carolina studying at John Cabot University during the Spring 2014 term.