Ciao from Italia! Since I have been in Italy for 5 weeks now and I feel that it was appropriate to acknowledge the myths/stereotypes I had stuck in my head before living here. Studying in another country forces you to learn quickly---your view of a culture can change entirely in days. So here are some common stereotypes about Italian culture that I would like to acknowledge based on my own experiences here in Bologna.
Stereotype #1: Italians just eat pizza and have the metabolisms of cross-country runners
-Finding a fat person in Italy is like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s both incredible and depressing. At first it is easy to hate them and ponder whether or not they are actually from planet earth. But upon living with Italians and learning about their culture, it all makes sense.
To them, food is an experience. It’s actually a huge aspect of their lives. Because food is an experience, it should be enjoyed and appreciated by all senses. They savor food, they eat more slowly, and therefore, they eat less. They don’t eat to live, they live to eat. They don’t rush through meals, and they don’t take shortcuts.
Stereotype #2: All Italians look ready to be on the cover of GQ or Vogue magazine.
-Men in Italy make the majority of American men look like hillbillies. Nobody ever walks around in sweats. In fact, even their dogs are well dressed. I have been upstaged more than once by a small dog while walking down the street.
Stereotype #3: Romance is everywhere
-If romance is equal to PDA, then yes. It is not uncommon to see couples making out in restaurants or in the street.
Stereotype #4: All food tastes like it had been made by Jesus.
Yes, even the most casual, fast food pizza restaurant has better pizza than in the United States.
Stereotype #5: They talk with their hands.
Yes, and it’s freaking awesome. However, I might change my mind when certain negative gestures are directed at me.
It is natural that movies and pop culture implant certain ideas in our heads about other cultures. That being said, it is a wonderful experience to seek out a culture on your own. It’s incredibly rewarding. Although you may not find your Italian lover riding on a Vespa (thanks Lizzie McGuire!), if you forget these expectations, you’ll surely find something even better.
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The "Is This Real Life?" Column, Samantha Salis: