Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cultural Differences and an Update

Today I have officially been gone from Minneapolis for 2 weeks. It's weird... I feel like I've been gone only a second, but at the same time like I've been gone for years already. Anyways, in my first week in Italy I've noticed a ton of cultural differences and I thought I'd share with all of you (and afterwards an update on my life)!

When people say the driving in Italy is crazy, they're not joking. I mean honestly everyone here is a terrible driver. It's like the Hunger Games: Italian Road Rage Edition. If I were to write down the rules for driving I'd write these: 

  1. Disobey any signs you see. No, those stop signs don't actually mean stop silly!
  2. Honk at anyone who's even remotely close to driving out in front of you. In fact, just honk at everyone... It's fun!
  3. Don't wear your seatbelt! Why would you need it?
  4. Drive as fast as you can.. ESPECIALLY when driving on very small two way streets and cliff-side roads. 
  5. Since we're all being so safe here, you might as well text while driving.
  6. Oh and you know round-abouts and intersections? Just go whenever you feel like it and hope for the best. 
  7. Also if someone's driving too slow for you, pass them- just remember to accelerate to at least 100 mph while doing so.

School is booooooring in Italy. I really thought it couldn't get worse than my high school at home but oh it can. Try sitting in the same classroom waiting for teachers to come in and only talk for 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. Then try it in a language you don't understand. I've already fallen asleep once (oops). Basically this year it seems like I'll be teaching myself math through Khan Academy and just hoping for the best in the other classes. Luckily school only goes until 1, that's the only +.

I love Minneapolis. One of my favorite things about it is that everyone says hi when they see each other on the street. Even if you don't know someone it's customary to say "hey!" when walking around Lake Harriet. Luckily for me, Italy is basically one giant Minneapolis in that respect. I've gotten a lot of "ciao"s and "buongiorno"s since I've arrived and it makes my day!

Going Out
When my friends and I go out at home, we usually go to someone's house or maybe to the movie theater, but usually we end up at a house. Here it's completely different. Since Saturday is the only non-school night, the town center in Modica Bassa (I live in Modica Alta aka Upper Modica. Most shops and food and stuff are in Modica Bassa aka Lower Modica- named this because it's literally lower than Modica Alta) is packed. I went out last Saturday with some friends and we got pizza and then walked around the town. It was so cool. There were barely any cars, just a couple thousand (seriously!) kids, teens, and adults walking around and talking and laughing and mingling. I really love the atmosphere. Everyone's just out enjoying friends and the weather.

Meals & Food
Not only is the food amazing here, the time taken to socialize during a meal is too! Meals are more of a big deal here. Everyone sits together and talks or watches tv (but always at the table) and just generally soaks up the Italian-ness. When you go out to get pizza, instead of ordering one or two for everyone to share, you each other one yourself (omg so good). Speaking of so good, the gelato is AMAZING. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE HOW AMAZING THE GELATO IS. I love Italian food.

So yeah, that's just what I've noticed so far!

Well, the first week was hard. I won't lie. I was exhausted ALL THE TIME. I had a headache from trying to understand, and I felt so lonely. I was extremely homesick. I can't describe how hard that week was. But I'm so so much better now, really. I found that (surprise, surprise) being alone when you're lonely and homesick doesn't help! So instead I've been hanging out with my host family, limiting time on Facebook and Skype, and generally feeling happier. 

My host family and I will be getting a dog on Monday or Tuesday- a wiener dog. I couldn't be more excited to take care of a new puppy. I have 2 at home and will love the distraction and exercise I'll get and really, who wouldn't love a little puppy to cuddle with?
I joined a volleyball team on Monday, then promptly quit after the first practice because I'm too tired and busy to do it every single day. But don't fear! I'll be swimming 3 times a week with my host sister, walking my new dog everyday, and also doing yoga in a studio by my house.. Hopefully I won't be a billion pounds by the time I get home ;)

I miss my friends and family but I'm also having an awesome time. I love it here and am learning more and more everyday!

Love always,

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