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6 Things Italians Can Learn from Americans

Now, I was the first one to tell you that you absolutely must let go of American expectations if you want to live (happily) in Italy. And yet...there are a few things that I think the Italians could do better if they took a page from the American way of life.

1. Don't Jump to Answer the Phone

I still can't get used to this. No matter who I am with, if their phone rings while we're together, they'll answer it. Even the doctor in the middle of an appointment!

We Americans (albeit not all of them) prioritize the person we're physically with. If the phone rings, we'll call them back later. I personally have my phone on silent 99% of the time for that reason.

Italians want everyone to feel important, which is, I guess, why they'll answer the phone even if it interrupts what they're doing. {shrug} Also they don't have voicemail, so it's not uncommon for someone to keep calling until you answer!!

2. Planning Ahead Can Save a Lot of Headaches

While we're not quite as precise as the Germans or Swiss, Americans, especially in business, plan ahead. In Italy, it tends to be very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, or at least that's how it seems from the outside.

A personal example: Fra's work contract at the library ended in February. It's nearly three months later, and they haven't recreated a new contract. If this was a problem in the U.S., the contract would have been put together before the current one ended so that he could keep working without interruption.

3. Personal Space is Golden

I'm adjusting to this one. If you're in a restaurant filled with empty tables, or on a beach where you're the only person, the Italians will choose a spot close to you. Guaranteed.

I can only imagine how bad COVID got here since everyone likes to be physically close. All. The. Time. Americans understand giving one another personal space. If you go to a bathroom with multiple stalls, you always leave one empty between you and the next bathroom user.

4. Wet Hair Won't Kill You

Here's another thing Italians can learn from Americans. Fra has given up trying to get me to dry my hair as soon as I step out of the shower. And hopefully, he has seen that I have neither gotten sick nor died from this sin.

5. Food Should Be Refrigerated

It drives me crazy when Fra wants to put leftovers in the oven for the next day. I used to own an ice cream franchise and had to take a food safety class. I can't get it out of my head that food starts developing bacteria within two hours of being left unrefrigerated. Ick.

6. Accept Payment Up Front

When I was in driving school, I tried to pay before classes started.

"Tranquilla," they told me, "You can pay later."

It wasn't until I was ready to take the final exam six months later that they collected the full payment. In America, I wouldn't have been able to even start classes without paying. So business owners, take note. Ask for money up front.

Truly, nothing on this list really bothers me. I've come to accept these quirks and different ways of doing things as part of my life in Italy. But while you can take the American out of America, you can't completely take the American way of doing things out of her!

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