Understanding Cultures in General
Generalizing about cultures is difficult. There are exceptions to all rules, and societies are always going to contain a wide range of different personality types.
However, it does not logically follow that all cultures are therefore the same. If I’d known any of the following things about Italy before I visited, my vacation would have gone a lot more smoothly. These tips are going to be even more important for the people who are going to work or study abroad there.
End of constipation!
Improove your eyesight!
Tips for People Visiting Italy
- Paying in cash is much more common than paying using credit or debit cards.
I never pay anything in cash in America. I carry cards with me everywhere. I got plenty of funny looks when I tried this in Italy, and I was outright mocked in plenty of cases. The Italian people around me would pay for five-course meals with cash, and I eventually learned to do the same thing. A lot of Italian people seem to be less uptight about things like handling unsanitary money as well, so I felt out of place with my hand sanitizing liquids.
- Different regions in Italy have different cuisines.
If you’re in the wrong region of Italy, you’ll have a hard time finding any of the dishes that Americans associate with Italian cuisine. Italy is a collection of former city-states, and it shows when it comes to the way their culture seems to be organized today. I recommend that people know their Italian regions before visiting any particular area, especially if you are specifically interested in the food.
- It’s important to be on the lookout for pickpockets.
Pickpockets are a problem in any populated area, but Italy tends to give New York City a run for its money. Nothing happened to me personally, but the statistics demonstrate that Italy is a world leader when it comes to pickpockets. No one needs to be paranoid, but people should know that this is a problem in this area.
- Street harassment is a common problem for women in Italy.
Street harassment is common in many countries, including America. I got cat-called all the time when I walked down the street in Italy, and I wasn’t prepared for that. Apparently, it’s common for women to just hold their heads high while ignoring their cat-callers, but you need some notice in order to do that, and I was taken by surprise.
- Italian people usually eat late.
In the United States, we’re used to eating dinner at around six o’clock. Italian people have a tendency to do it at eight or nine o’clock. Your Italian friends are going to want to eat late, and the restaurants are going to be packed at those hours, and not at six or seven in the evening.
Reflections on Italy
Overall, I loved going to Italy. However, it is still a very different place than the United States, in both positive and negative ways. Knowing those differences in advance would have made everything easier for me and for the people with me.