Friday, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Culture Shocks

Its been about 3 weeks since I first stepped foot upon the Italian grounds and I have learnt that the culture in Malaysia and Italy are COMPLETELY different.

So here are some of the culture shocks I have experienced during my stay in Italy so far.

1. Its all about the love in Italy

When I first met my host family, I planned to give them a hug (and that's already very affectionate for me). But instead, they gave me a kiss on both cheeks each and I realized that this is common in Italy. More kisses and hugs followed after that when I met other Italians during my first week.

I have never received (or given) so many hugs and kisses in just 1 week, I can't even keep track anymore! But you know what? I actually like it.

2. Most Italians smoke

The first thing that greeted me at the entrance of the airport was the smell of cigarettes. Its very common for people to smoke here, including the teenagers. Even my host family smokes, except for my host sister, Lia.

Although I've been offered a cigarette once in a while, I refused politely. I want to experience their culture, but I don't intend to start any bad habits. Like smoking.

But I've learnt to stand the smell of cigarettes now and it doesn't bother me whenever somebody smokes in front of my face anymore.

3. Nobody goes bare footed in the house

OK, I've been quite aware about this culture before I arrived in Italy, but despite all that, I still asked where do I put my shoes when I first arrived at their home. I was a bit surprised that I could walk around in the house wearing my sneakers because I didn't want to dirty the floors.

But everybody seems to be doing it so what the heck. Anyway, if you wanna be comfortable, you can wear house slippers like the one I'm wearing now. Their aunt bought it for me even though I insisted that I'd pay for myself and she said its a gift for me.

Isn't that kind of her?

4. Italians eat fast

That was definitely a shocker for me. I thought I ate quickly. I've always finished eating my food first back in Malaysia, so I was very surprised that everybody else had finished eating their share of pizza while I was only halfway through (and trust me, it was a very large piece of pizza)!

The there was lunch and dinner and every time I always finish last! Even their grandpa ate faster than me =.=

5. EVERYTHING is in Italian. Even the Simpsons.

The Simpsons has always been one of my favorite shows. That's why I was feeling so happy when I saw the Simpsons theme song playing from my host family's TV. I was surprised when I saw Homer speak Italian after that.

In fact, everything that was originally in English has been dubbed into Italian so that the locals are able to enjoy it. We even watched Dragonball in Italian!

Its so weird watching Goku speak Italian...

Its not just the TV. Even the movies played American movies in Italian.

The other day, Lia took me along with her friends to watch Sherlock Holmes. At first, I was like 'Great! Something in English. Finally!' Fat hopes.

The movie is dubbed in Italian and there isn't even any English subtitles for me to read like the ones in Malaysia. I had a feeling that it was a good movie. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand a word of it.

6. Italian kids gamble a lot

Now that its the holidays, I've been following Lia to her friend's house nearly every night to play Tombola or Sinco. Its the Napolean version of 'Bingo' and its quite fun. Except for the fact that I always keep losing money T.T

Tombola. Its a game where somebody randomly chooses a number and call it out. You're supposed to cover the number that is called on your card just like bingo. The first one who finishes all the numbers is supposed to call out 'Tombola!' and you win money.

In the beginning, I didn't win at all because they call out the numbers in Italian so I couldn't really understand. But after numerous times of playing, I began to recognize the numbers and I've won a few times now.

Here's a fun fact about gambling in Italy; it is said that a person who is very unlucky in the game is usually lucky in love. Maybe I'm lucky in love because I never won anything at all during the first few nights :P

7. Loud conversations are normal

Until now, this is something I'm still not very used to. I don't understand Italian very well, so I get very uncomfortable when people starts talking to each other very loudly. At home, people shout at each other when they're mad at each other so I get a little upset whenever my host family starts talking loudly because I can't tell if they're angry or not.

I've been told that its normal for people to shout at each other even when their not mad, but sometimes I'm afraid they shout because I did something wrong. Oh well, hopefully I'll get used to it soon...

And that's some of the few culture shocks I have experienced during my stay in Italy. I'm pretty sure there are a few more, but I'm too lazy to list it down. More updates to come soon.