When in Rome…Do as the Romans

When in Rome…Do as the Romans

Italians do things a little differently than I’m used to in the States. But, now that I’ve been in Rome for a week I’ve had some time to begin adapting to the Italian culture.

Monday morning two of my friends and I went to run some errands in the neighborhood. Italy is not big on stores like “Super Wal-Mart”,  so by the time you’ve bought everything you need you probably stopped into at least 3 stores. Our first stop was at the cartoleria, where we bought school supplies for the semester. It’s hard to compare a cartoleria to stores in the States, but a translation is be “a stationary store”. We managed to find all the folders and notebooks we needed, but those too are a little different than anything I’ve used before.

To look for pillows and towels we went into OVS, a store our SLAs (Student Life Assistants) compared to Target–which is an accurate comparison. I found the towels I needed, but we weren’t so lucky with the pillows. Through a back door you can exit OVS and walk straight into Simply, the grocery store in our neighborhood. I’m usually not a fan of doing groceries, but this time around I didn’t mind at all. I found it really interesting to see what was sold in an Italian grocery store compared to at home. I was surprised to see how many brands were familiar to me, only with Italian words on the packaging.

Just outside of OVS, there were a few street vendors set-up selling all sorts of accessories. My friends, Jordan and Jaime, had their sights set on the felt hats we’d seen plenty of Italians wearing already. So in true Italian fashion, Jordan bargained with the man selling the hats and talked him down to 20 euros for both–originally they would’ve paid over 30. Not too bad for our first Italian-style errand run.

A few other things we’ve been adapting to are the way Italians form “lines”. In general they go more for a large mob or crowd that eventually filters its way through the door or the check-out. This can be a bit stressful at times, but if you balance being aggressive enough to get through and patient enough to wait awhile, you’ll do just fine. Patience is key in general here because it seems that Italians run on their own clocks. Waiting in line for awhile doesn’t bother them, and its not uncommon for them to show up a bit late for anything. One part of this culture I haven’t had to build up patience for is the way meals are eaten and truly enjoyed. I’ve had the chance to eat at a restaurant a couple of times already, and each time our meal has lasted about 2 hours–something I’m definitely a fan of.

I think I’m starting to make a pretty decent Italian–well, I’m doing the best I can. Ciao!

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