For the last few weeks I’ve had writers block not knowing which subject I wanted to hit for my next blog post. I didn’t want to write about another wedding, or food, but instead what I’m going through culturally right now so that my writing is alive and in real time. This time, I’ll be writing about Italian culture and the little things that make all the difference.
When I first moved to Italy I had a conversation on the phone with a fellow American woman who had been living in Italy for 20 years. She told me it officially takes 2 years to overcome culture shock. When I heard that I took it to heart because I was then a newbie and was enduring serious culture shock where every thing I looked at seemed upside down and backwards. Today however I have overcome the upside down and backwards seeing (which often caused anxiety and bitterness) and instead see things more slanted which ironically results in humorous experiences.
So, the first thing that became really humorous to me was the fact that Italian animals apparently make different sounds than the way I was taught. I noticed this one day as my husband was explaining to me something that happened with this dog when he said “you know, he said ‘bow bow.’ I looked at him and said “bow bow hahahahaha!” I then realized he wasn’t joking and that Italian dogs say “bow bow” and not “ruff ruff.” But I said “you really hear the dog saying bow bow because I don’t hear that at all…” Well I still don’t hear the bow bow and I have tried really hard. Apart from the dogs barking in Italian, the birds also tweet “pew pew”. I double checked this with some Italian kids that I teach English to every week at my work. They assured me of the animal sounds. Apart from those two animals though, the others make the same sounds 🙂
Animals say funny things, but Italians say even funnier American things. I have repeatedly heard conversations about BMWs over the year but they don’t say BMW and this caught my attention. They say BMVoooo. I laughed really hard when I realized what they were saying and I actually think it sounds smoother this way. Ok, I know BMWs aren’t American, but still it’s funny. The USA is also differently pronounced. I was in the grocery store a few weeks ago and I always run into the same old man who takes care of the vegetable section. He said “hey Jessica! Look, these oranges came from California, ewssuhhh.” I said, “ewsuhh? USA?” He said “yeah!” I laughed at that too and said “Gianni, I’m an English teacher, come on, it’s U.S.A.” What I find most funny is that old man probably never thought he would get an English lesson in his life in the little town he lives in! Anyways, another funny pronunciation thing is when you say “oops.” Italians say “Ohps” and every time I say “oops” at my job everyone has a good laugh at MY accent. Cute. Who would have known that the littlest things are said differently in another language.
Some other little things I find interesting and almost culturally shocking is the fact that they make these pencils with no erasers. I just can’t get over it. Why on Earth would you make a pencil that doesn’t erase. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of a pencil in the first place?
It’s so hard to find pencils with erasers, and when you find them you have to pay a lot for them…no fun. So, in my school a little girl told me she needed an eraser for her pencil, so I said “here take this pencil with the eraser” she looked at me and said “no, I need an eraser!” I just don’t understand what the difference is between an eraser on a pencil and a big separate eraser. Geez! hehehe (or in Italian “hihihi”) 🙂
Some other interesting things I’ve noticed in Italy is that they don’t use to-go boxes, and aren’t fans of billboards on the interstate. They do have billboards on local levels, but on the interstate it’s not the same as in America where every 2 miles you see a billboard. With the to-go boxes I thought that was quite ironic b/c they are so in love with food you would think it would be second nature for restaurants to have to-go boxes. Contrarily, they are so in love with food that they believe in fresh food always, and therefore to-go means eating old food. They do however have to-go cups for espresso…as if espresso couldn’t be any smaller! That’s mind blowing to me because by the time espresso is made and put into its little barbie sized cup it’s already lots 1/4 of the heat, so why take it to-go so that it’s cold when you drink it? Funny Italians…hihihi
The last thing I would like to comment on today is the parking. There is so much to say, where do you start? Well, I will start by saying I will probably be writing an entire post filled with pictures of unbelievable parking jobs in the near future. It used to be mind twisting and annoying to look at, but now it’s just too funny to be upset about. Look at this guy.
He is parked, he is not in the car, he is not turning, he is parked there and gone. This is a curb with head on traffic that flows in his direction but he felt no need to park closer to the curb or perhaps even in a parking space. No, he felt perfectly comfortable parking right there instead. This guy has made me start bending the rules with my parking and driving in general. He has inspired me to just care less and take it easy, like a true Italian.