It seems that the start of my Euro-trip might be pushed forward a date, ironically due to a Miami Hurricane. As most Canes have been attending their first round of classes of the semester at the U, I am trying to stuff all of my belongings into a medium-sized suitcase and an extra-small carry-on for my new residence in Rome – they live a lot smaller than we do. I am preparing myself for a culture shock of a lifetime, expecting the worst while hoping for the best. To my advantage, I have already visited 14 countries and therefore consider myself a world-class traveler for a junior in college. Because of this, I am able to envision what my next four months may be like. However, I am not naive to the fact that I am a long way away to becoming accustomed to their customs.
During my adventures abroad, I’m going to do my best to walk and talk like a European, not an American. That being said, here are some things that I have previously noted about American perceptions of Europeans, European perceptions of Americans, and how our customs clash.
- They dress well and conservatively. This is not to say that we don’t, but it doesn’t go unnoticed that our clothing has a lot less clothing to it. The heat of Miami makes it especially hard for us UM kids to break our custom of dressing in clothes that are barely there. To them, the sun is not an excuse for considering “barely-there” clothing (that therefore looks promiscuous) acceptable.
- Continuing with the heat excuse, us Miamiians would also be bothered by their lack of ice in drinks. Here, our cups consist of only half liquid since we have ice cubes on ice cubes taking up most of the cup’s space, so refills are quickly needed. There, your cup is filled to the top with liquid only. Ice is given upon request, but that request would probably reveal your American-ness.
- Speaking of drinks, we wish we could acquire their laxed laws on alcoholic beverages. Be aware though, although they seem to drink all day and from a petite age, pounding shots and playing beer pong is not OK. They take pride in their drinks and their slurred words are not a result of a game.
The more I learned about their culture, the more I learned about ours. For one, we are laughed at for calling french fries, french fries – they are not French. In fact, they originated in Belgium. The word “fries” would make more sense, along with “chips” or “pommes frites” (meaning fried potatoes). Also, they don’t get why we call our version of football, “football” when the game does not even allow the foot to touch the ball. Their version of football (which is our version of soccer) makes a lot more sense.
I will be adding to my notes once I pass Italian customs at their airport where I will have to explain what I am doing in their country, how long my stay will be, and whether or not I have brought any plants or animals with diseases onto their land. I will keep you updated on my attempt to walk and talk like a Roman and my frolics around the continent. For those of you sticking around in Miami, don’t be phased by Hurricane Isaac. It’s probably just a little wind and rain.
Signing off –