not weird just different
I like to think of young&fabulous as more than just a lifestyle blog. I think y&f offers its readership an idea of what is cool and “avant-garde”, if you will. So, being an expert on all things cool, young, and fabulous, I decided to write an exposé on Italian culture versus American culture.
I was planning on writing a post dedicated to the (few) things that I think America does better than other countries. It turns out, however, that as my high school friend (who is also studying in Florence) likes do say: America doesn’t do them better, just differently.
I have decided to adopt this motto because it seems to suit almost all aspects of my new life. A few examples of aforementioned “differences” :
The proliferation of “Hard Rock Café” T-shirts. At first I thought it was super werid that everyone seemed to be sporting Hard Rock Café __________ (fill in the blank: Miami, Madrid, Buenos Aires, etc.) shirts, I then realized: Italian teenagers think these shirts are cool. There have got to be a billion European brands or trends that I think are cool but that are actually considered square or odd here. So, no, these shirts aren’t weird. Just a different definition of cool.
Hailing a bus. I was baffled when I first discovered that buses don’t always stop. But it makes sense. Why should a bus stop if no one on the bus needs to get off at a certain stop and if there is no one waiting for it at said stop. People have got shit to do, places to go. #cantstopwontstop.
The gym. America, a country made up of a rather unathletic bunch is great at offering her citizens gyms. There are gyms up the wazoo, some of which are open 24 hours, some of which have spas, and some of which are probably drug fronts. But that’s beside the point. What I mean to say is that in the USA it’s relatively easy to find a gym.
In Florence, however it is not as simple as it once appeared. In my first week, I visited four gyms. One required taking a train to arrive, one was sketchy, the list goes on. I finally just joined one that was somewhat near my apartment, still somewhat unsatisfied with the hours, locker room, equipment, and price. But it gets the job done.
And then I found something delightful: the community. At this gym, the machines are facing one another and the patrons chat as they work out side-by-side. The trainers are extraordinarily friendly and everyone smiles. At the gym’s café downstairs, people gather to chat with friends over a post-workout espresso. Perhaps this gym doesn’t have 65 ellipticals or flat screen TVs but it offers a sense of camaraderie. And espresso shots.
4.) No such thing as one-stop-shopping. At home if I need school supplies, yogurt, hangers, sports bras, towels, a cup of coffee, some advil, whatever, I go to Target. Here, however, if I need those things, I go to: la cartoleria, il supermercato, il negozio di articoli sportivi, il caffè, e la farmacia.
While this is often inconveniencing, it is not all that weird. By having specific shops for particular needs, shoppers don’t usually get stuck in long lines. Also, they get to support local businesses and become friendly with the storeowners. Instead of stores offering breadth, they offer depth, guaranteeing that the customer walks away the most perfect greeting card imaginable. Just a different approach.
5.) Eating the salad after the pasta. At first I was baffled. Then I was outraged. How dare they?!? I could not wrap my Americanized mind around this one. Why would you eat the (usually) more nutritious part after the heavier part? And to be honest, I still am not entirely sure why the Italians do it this way. According to my host family, salad is a side dish.
But here is my guess: Salad is not a common main course for dinner. If you really wanted a salad, you would just order a salad and call it a day. But for most diners, the salad is the afterthought. Or the “should-order,” as in “I should order this salad because I think salad is healthy and by also eating salad, I am counteracting all “unhealthy” food I might consume.” So, in essence, eating the salad after the pasta lets you eat what you really want and then lets you nibble away at your vitamins as you digest the heavier part. And perhaps eating the heavier part first means there is more time to make room for dessert?!? But these are merely speculations.
Yes, there are many aspects of life in Italy that are different from life in the states. But when thinking about role reversal, I am sure that many things in the USA seem weird to Italians.
Maybe blogging isn’t as cool in Italy as it is in the USA. But I seriously doubt that because I’ve been told that it’s pretty freakin’ cool. That’s all.
not weird, just scary