I love coffee, and drink far too much of it here.
I know that I recently posted about November, but I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile now. I’ve mentioned it before, but coming to Italy from the Twin Cities was a huge culture shock for me. I went from the Mall of America, 24-hour-stores and dinners on St. Paul rooftops to quiet cafes and a bus line that stops at 8pm..not to mention this is all in another language! I’ve had some big experiences here, and been to many new countries, but it’s the little things that really stand out as being different. I’ve obviously been noticing the differences here, so I thought I would share a few that make me smile every time I pick up on them. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed/experienced/laughed at:
- Cars are so small! It makes sense in such a tiny country with small roads, but I swear I’ve only seen 3 pickup trucks in my two months. I have also seen 2 PT Cruisers… they stick out even more here than in the US.
- Small also applies to the coffee. I’ve had many coffee dates, but there’s no slow sipping giant starbucks creations here- it’s mostly macchiatos, cappuccinos, or espresso, in teeny-tiny cups. I LOVE Italian coffee, but I get weird looks when I order more than one. So instead I cafe-hop like the crazed caffeine addict I am.
- McDonald’s and Burger King are rare in Bolzano. It’s a big deal that there is going to be a second McDonald’s in the area soon… instead of burgers, fast food places consist of pizza places. Also, if you dip french fries in your ice cream you will get the STRANGEST looks.
- Speaking of food, I’ve had multiple Italians tease me about “American” food being all burgers and fries. I’ve had trouble explaining that BBQ and burgers are American, but we’re just as likely to get tacos or pasta or thai food or sushi… It’s difficult to describe typical “American” food- try it yourself! I struggle with explaining this still.
- Italians have issues with spicy food. They would hate Chipotle, which breaks my heart just a little bit.
- My roommate Mia speaks English, but it’s a bit limited. Some of our idioms and common phrases had her giving me a blank stare. I took it upon myself to teach Mia some new stuff.. The first word I taught her was “hooker” (I swear it was an accident- I mentioned the multiple women on street corners on our way to practice one night and the vocab lesson just sort of happened…) and followed that up by teaching her what “going commando” meant. The best part was Mia couldn’t quite get the “oo” sound right in the word hooker, and instead pronounces it with the “oo” sound in “who.” It makes me laugh every time.
- Mia taught me how to say “how much for the night” in anticipation of asking one of these nice ladies on a streetcorner to satisfy our curiosity on salary, before we speed off in Mia’s miniscule car. I’m not sure how well this plan will work, but I’m sure it will be hilarious. (I’ve also started naming ladies on streetcorners and giving them backstories. This usually happens when I’m overly tired on the way home from practice. For reference, Treasure is usually by the roundabout, and she hangs out with Cinnamon and Kandi. They’re friends.)
- The scene in the movie Eurotrip of the Italian man getting more and more friendly/creepy on the train while saying “mi scusi” has never been funnier than when I watched it with actual Italians.
- I try my best to order here in Italian. Sometimes, it works better than others. After one of my stumbling attempts to pay for my cappuccino and water, the cashier (who spoke perfect English) congratulated me on tripping through the words. I get laughed at by waiters a lot here.
- I got chastised by an older Irish gentleman at Temple Bar (where I basically live) when he caught me on my phone with my biochemistry book open. It didn’t help my studying habits much because the bartender proceeded to yell “why don’t you keep your nose out of other people’s business, Jeffery!” and the tongue-in-cheek argument in Irish accents that sprung up was much better than reading.
- I will never dress as cool as older Italian women do. Biking while smoking should never be something to aspire to, but crap do they look smooth.
- Italians think chicken on pizza is the grossest thing they can imagine. On the other hand, I’ve seen tuna and corn on pizza here. My teammates play the trump card of “Italy invented pizza so we know what’s normal” often when I bring this up.
- There is no premade salad dressing here. I have a couple teammates who studied in America and they mentioned this too. Oil and vinegar here, no fat-free ranch or Italian dressing to be found.
- Italians also classify pasta differently. When I mentioned that I was eating a lot of pasta, and was worried about the carbo-loading I was inadvertently doing, they asked if I had tried other foods…..like lasagna or tortellini. I had to break it to them that in America we still count those as pasta. They laughed and said “yeah I guess so, but it’s different!” I love my teammates.
- A lot of these observations are about food. Oops.
- Italian university students dress nicer to go to the library than any student athlete I know dresses for a class presentation. Loving the American Slob vibes.
- I’ve started singing along to Italian commercials. I have no idea what I’m singing. This could end badly.
- I may not hear Adele on the radio, but my team is obsessed with that damn song. You haven’t really experienced “Hello” until it’s sung every time someone enters the locker room, in a thick Italian/German Italian accent. Ridiculous.
- I LOVE the Christmas Market. It’s beautiful. There’s lights and a giant tree and stalls with vendors selling everything from slippers to chocolate to specialty ornaments. A couple of the stalls sell Gluewein, which is mulled wine with cinnamon, and other spices, and it’s delicious. It should just always be Christmas time here.
- I was looking for cards to make flashcards here, and there’s nothing similar in stores. Italy is really green conscious, and takes recycling very seriously. You also have to bring your own bags to the grocery store, or pay for biodegradable ones, as plastic bags are banned.
- The Italian mail system is hilarious. I recently received a package from home, and put the actual value of the clothes inside on the tax form. I got a call from the mail center saying I should just put 30-40 euros (aka lie), or the taxes would be annoyingly high. Imagine getting that call in the US? Never, pay your overly high taxes, dummy!
- Seriously, the food is really good.
That’s all I can think of for now. I hope some of these make you laugh a little bit, like they did/do for me! The holidays are coming up, and I will be super busy for the next two weeks. I have some classwork to finish up this week, packages to mail by friday, and games this weekend. After that I’m spending a week with Mac and Kay going on a tour of Italy 🙂 I’ll spend Christmas with Mac’s family (who I can’t wait to see) and then come back to Bolzano for the second half of the season.
I also have more good news to throw in at the end of this blog post! It’s becoming a bit of a tradition, so please keep the good news coming! I’ve received news that some important people from UConn are expecting some new faces (one set of twins on the way!). I’m not sure who’s comfortable/wants me sharing what news, so I’ll keep it vague, but I CANNOT WAIT to get back to Connecticut to say hi and give them the giant hugs that I’m stifling at the moment. It is physically painful not to be home to celebrate with these wonderful people, but I know I have some great husky ambassadors somewhat filling my spot. AH! Babies!!
I most likely won’t write again until after December, and I hope everyone has a happy holiday season! Enjoy your time with loved ones and friends, and know that I miss you all, my dog, and my home(s) very much! Love from Italy!