After living in Bologna for over two months I’ve begun to pick up on some cultural differences and have learned a bit on fitting in.
- Do dress for the season, not the temperature – it could be 75 degrees in the middle of October and you will still see Italians walking around with jackets, scarves, and boots. Prepare to get a lot of weird looks when you walk out in a sun dress and sandals (also Italians don’t do flip-flops, this screams American)
- Do take pride in your personal pizza – and I’m not talking mini/baby pizza, I mean your own normal-sized pizza with the works on it! They’re easy to find and cheap to buy (2.50 euro for an entire margarita pizza). Also, if you’re just stopping for a slice, don’t feel weird walking and eating at the same time.
- Don’t order a cappuccino after 11:30 – this is one I defiantly don’t follow because I love me a good cappuccino, and as a foreigner you can totally get away with ordering one at 3:00 and not get a weird look. Italians think that milk is really heavy and should only be drunk in the morning, so if you really wanna mix with the locals order an espresso or a macchiato past noon.
- Do slice your fruit – you won’t see Italians biting into apples or scooping out kiwis, it’s all about being pristine with your fruit
- Don’t get too dressed up for the club – I’ve seen people in cable knit sweaters, it’s strange. Also, they’re called discotecas (no, they don’t play disco) but they do play songs that were popular 10 years ago…and the cotton-eyed joe.
- Don’t expect fast wi-fi – you will want to punch your computer in the face.
- Don’t order a salad, unless your a rabbit – it is the equivalent to lettuce…just lettuce.
- Don’t study anywhere but the library – now this is a struggle for me! I have to do work in places with high concentrations of people/activity, like a coffee shop. Okay, for one, there are very few “coffee shops.” The most “American” styled one here in Bologna is called ITIT and I love it(IT, ha!) because it makes me feel at home! They sell coffee to go (which is unheard of and blasphemous to Italians) and a lot of Erasmus students and foreigners come here with their laptops and work. My Italian friends cannot believe that I can concentrate or work in a loud place with lots of people.
- Do learn how to curse people out in Italian – or just yell at them to go away. This comes in handy when you don’t want to talk to someone at the bar/club/in the middle of Piazza Verdi. Sometimes being a foreigner, especially an American, can make you a target for obnoxious people, and honestly I’m over having the same conversations. Just because I’m from the US doesn’t mean I fit into your stereotype of Americans, here let me show you by yelling at you in Italian. Bonus points for hand gestures.
- Don’t expect service with a smile – you won’t get it. This is probably because the waiters aren’t being tipped, so why bother! And also, don’t take it personally when your waiter is being sharp, this is just the way things are here and complaining won’t make the situation better.
So there ya have it! You’re on your way to being Italian already.