After experiencing Rome for over a month, I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit of a grasp on the Italian culture. The culture took me by surprise at first, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. The biggest difference between Italy and America is probably the attitude of the people. Italians enjoy life. It’s very common for shops to close in the afternoon so that the workers can take a break, maybe take a nap. When Italians go out to eat, they sit for hours finishing their bottle of wine and chatting. Italians are also more relaxed with time. It’s okay if you’re running a little late, no need to rush! In America, everyone is in a hurry and works hard. People don’t really slow down to appreciate life. It has really been nice to slow down and experience everything!
Another major difference between Italy and America is that a lot of people smoke tobacco in Italy. This is one thing that frustrates me. There are laws in America that prohibit people from smoking in most public places, and in general not a lot of people smoke. This is not the case for Italy, everyone seems to smoke cigarettes. It’s hard to walk down the street without walking into a cloud of smoke every minute. American universities have smoke-free campuses. In Italy there are designated courtyards for students to smoke on campus, and students line up outside the school building in between classes to have a cigarette.
Italy has a fresh culture; the food is fresh and so is the environment. It’s hard to find produce that is out of season. It’s so nice buying food that isn’t processed! Coming from Minnesota, I’m not used to food being so garden-fresh. Besides the excessive amount of smoke, Italian take better care of their environment. Italy separates their garbage so that materials can be recycled, in America you can just throw everything out all at once. It was difficult at first to adjust to the chaotic garbage schedule, but my roommates and I are finally getting the hang of it. Italy also uses vehicles that are better for the environment. Everyone drives a small Fiat that gets good gas mileage.
Overall, it’s very refreshing to experience a new culture and I’m so happy I have over 2 months left here in Italy!
Veronica is a student at University of Minnesota, Duluth studying at John Cabot University during the Spring 2014 term.