SURPRISES OVERSEAS: CULTURAL DIFFERNECES

Streets

The streets here are not like most American cities. They’re full of one ways and alleys, but people drive them as if they are the highways. There’s no real walking area, and scooters are constantly weaving between the cars. It’s terrifying at first, but you get used to it quickly.

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Walking

In the United States, if a person needs to go to the store that is half a mile down the road, they drive. In Italy, people walk. Unless you’re going to another town, there’s no real reason for you to drive anywhere. I walk at least two miles a day, and it’s normal here.

Public Transportation

In the United States, someone can drive for six hours on the highway and never reach a major city. Most small towns have terrible bus systems (if they even have it) and only major cities have train and subway lines. Not in Europe! Every town has a bus route, most have train lines, and it’s easy to get from city to city for a relatively low price. I have ridden trams, busses, trains, subways, metro lines, and flown since traveling in Europe, and all for quite cheap compared to the United States.

Physical Touch

The United States is quite reserved with physical contact compared to Italy (or at least Southern Italy, those northerners are colder, like their cities). As soon as I met my host family, I got a name, a hug, and at least two kisses on the cheek from each of them (there were five that I met that day). Any local I am introduced to treats me the same way. As someone who loves contact, I was totally fine with it. I am the kind of person who hugs when I meet people instead of handshakes, so I felt perfectly at home with this. Most people that I have met in the United States however, only hug and engage in physical contact with people they’re close with, such as family and close friends.

2Food

The food is all local, and it’s hard to find anything that’s not Italian. I traveled to Naples for the nearest Mexican food, and it was not Mexican food (I assure you). My host family can tell me where all of the ingredients were grown or raised, and it’s usually within a mile of my house. I haven’t eaten anything with any preservatives or pesticides in months. The one time I did at McDonald’s (which took an hour to get to) I got sick because my body wasn’t used to processing it.

Garbage

I’m going to be honest with you: I still don’t understand the garbage system here. Everything is sorted meticulously and each recyclable has a designated trash bag color and day it is collected.

Animals in the Street

In Southern Italy, the cats and dogs are abounding. They wander to and fro, at all hours of the day, through historic sites and neighborhoods alike. A few days ago, I was followed by a pack of four cats and was late to my internship due to trying to bring them back to their houses. Most pets are outdoor pets, and wander since most houses do not have yards for them. My host family has three cats, and it’s not uncommon to not see one for a week since they’re off wandering. 1

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