Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Divide

Anyone who has ever travelled to another country (or in some cases simply to another neighborhood...) knows that there exist cultural differences between people groups. Such a cultural divide exists, in the large overarching and oversimplified sense, between the United States of America and Italy.

I will point out the often frowned upon U.S. tendency to be overly politically correct (notice I didn't simply say "American tendency"?) by saying here that no one culture is better than another. We all have areas in which we can learn from each other and grow together. That I actually believe this is besides the point, I suppose, as we are speaking politically here.

I've had ample opportunity in my time here to speak with Italians, and there are some fun differences I've noticed or that have been pointed out to me. I list them below in no particular order for your reading pleasure.

Customer Service
In Italy the customer's rightness is not a given. Contrary to what seems like a good business model to me, the goal here is not to aid the customer's consumer habits. If you have to wait half an hour for something you were told would take five minutes, well such is life.

In Italy if your server is tired they are not going to grin and bear it. Oh no. If you annoy them or are a little indecisive no one is going to put in a little effort and be gracious about it. Change got thrown at you? Be glad you got any! What can you do about it? Nothing. Your tip is already part of the bill.

Italians have a concept of equipment preservation. When I mentioned that I never restart my ipad I was met with an immediate "You're so American." Indeed.

Now this right here can be it's own blog post. Heck, it can be it's own blog. In the interest of not dragging this list on any further I'll focus on one major difference here: Breakfast.

Why is there no such thing as real breakfast?! I want pre made bad-for-me egg and cheese and meat sandwiches on the go. Instead I get chocolate, cream, and jam filled brioches and cappuccinos for breakfast. I'm sorry but sugar doesn't equal long lasting healthy energy in the same way a protein filled egg does. Even if it comes with artery clogging bacon on the side. I'm too lazy to get up early enough to make myself an omelet, and by golly I am entitled to pay a few euros to have someone else do it for me faster!

This brings up a sub point: eating on the go. Despite Milan being a fast paced and rather New York like city, they have still not taken up the indigestion inducing U.S. habit of stuffing your face in public while walking or running from one meeting to the next.

Pity. It's serving us so well...

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