What I Miss and Don’t Miss about Living in Italy

IN GOOD AND BAD TIMES

What do I miss about home? I have lived in three different countries and although moving is always a very exciting and fun experience, there are some things you notice about the way people live, behave and act with others which you were not expecting. Moving to a new country not only offers you new perspectives on things but also requires you to say goodbye to any prejudice or judgement towards a culture and dive into new traditions and ways of thinking. In other words, it’s about allowing yourself to try new things and listen to different opinions which may be very different from what you have been raised with. Moving to Sweden definitely caused some very scarring culture shocks at the time. However, thinking in retrospect, I can say I am more than grateful I had the opportunity to challenge myself and my ideas, questioning my own behaviour sometimes and having the freedom and maturity to make my own mind instead of always blindly agreeing with my friends or family.
I believe a good advantage of travelling is the maturity that comes with it, as being thrown into a totally different culture (luckily) forces you to take down all the walls of conscious and subconscious prejudice. Having said this, the more I discover about a culture, the more I learn to respectfully distinguish between what I agree with and what I do not necessarily agree with. For example, there will always be things I miss about a country when I move away, just like there are things we miss about a friend or relative when we don’t see them every day. However, there are also aspects of the country where I am from which led to my decision of moving away, which I will share here. Most importantly, I want to remind you that everything I wrote in this blog post is from a personal experience only, so please don’t take it too seriously. Every country has its pros and cons and no matter this list, I still love Italy.
Article by Eleonora Mezzo

I MISS …

THE FOOD

I MISS FOOD SO MUCH. I miss not seeing “Fettuccine Alfredo” on every menu I get my hands on. What I miss the most about Italian cuisine is the quality of the ingredients, which makes every dish so incredible. Fresh pasta is probably what I miss the most. The affordability of food is also something that shocks me every time I go back home, as the price to quality ratio is something I have not experienced anywhere else. Every time I go back home I sneak a whole suitcase full of pasta and taralli into Canada.

(some aspects of) THE LIFESTYLE

This might be the aspect I miss the most in my daily life. The slow pace of my life in Italy is something I think about every time I make plans with my friends. I love how spontaneous and last-minute everything is in Italy. If you want to go out with your friends one night, all you need to do is to literally go out and something will eventually happen. Here in Vancouver, downtown is pretty much dead by 1 am, which is when the night starts in Italy. Not only do you need to plan everything in advance here, but going out is also very expensive.

Bust most of all, I miss APERITIVO. Going out and catching up with friends over a drink and food (with a €12 bill) is all I ask for every time I go back home.

THE WEATHER

Another very obvious advantage is the weather. There are aspects which I miss a lot about the weather, like the warm sunny days (Raincuver could never). However, that can become too much as spending time in the city in 30 degrees temperatures is not the best.

THE LOCATION

Something I have always taken for granted is the geographic location of the country. The advantage of living in Europe is that you can have a one day trip to a neighbour country without even it being expensive. When you live in Vancouver, the nearest city in the country is Calgary, which is 12 hours away by car.

Obviously, the landscapes are also so beautiful, as Italy offers both mountains and sea in super close proximity.

THE PEOPLE

I have lived in three different countries and all I can say is that there’s no one like Italians. I believe what makes me miss Italy the most is having strangers start conversations with me, and every little thing that makes everyone so social and welcoming. Although Italians sometimes have absolutely no filter, there are definitely positive aspects of a very open and loud country, one of which is the effortless ability to make conversation with absolutely anyone, everywhere.

I DON’T MISS …

THE CLOSE-MINDEDNESS

I have so much to say about this and honestly, it is probably the most delicate point I cover in this post. Firstly, I need to say that everything I discuss on the blog is from my perspective only and by any means I do not mean to pretend that every single Italian citizen is as I describe them to be. The close-mindedness of the Italian population is, in fact, given by the behavioural pattern and way of thinking that I have noticed over the years that I lived there, but started observing more attentively once I moved to Sweden and Canada. What makes Italy such a close-minded country is the proportion of the population within which some forms of racism and homophobia still persist. Issues such as gender inequality and racism are almost normalized in day-to-day conversations and activities. Small comments and jokes which objectify women or insult immigrants are apparently still “a thing”. Although a lot of people don’t necessarily mean it, society has normalized them to the point that they are not controversial in people’s eyes. This is something I have noticed once I moved out of the country, as meeting people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds all living and going to the same school allowed me to be more sensitive about it. So all of this to say that every time I go back to Italy and hear an old classmate make a racist comment, all I can think of is “wow we are still at this level of ignorance”…

Having said this, I am happy to see most of my friends have the same values and open-mindedness as I do. Surround yourself with people that actually have a brain and realize the world is much more than a small little piece of land called Italy.

THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

I love Italy. But please someone fix the transportation system. If there is one thing that could honestly make the quality of life in Italy better is an improved bus system. Someone, please make a schedule that buses actually follow because that would be great, please and thank you.

THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

One of the things that most people don’t know about Italy is the way the school system is structured, including an unnecessarily strict student-teacher hierarchy system that expects the student to consider the professor as their “boss”. I have gone to Italian school until I was 15, meaning I was two years into high school when I decided to move away. Although I understand the reasoning behind this system, it leads students to almost fear their teachers. The school system is also very outdated, as the syllabus basically hasn’t been changed since the 1900s, as my generation has studied exactly the same things my parents’ generation has. Lastly, the level of difficulty is very high (again, for no apparent reason). Overall, I would describe the school system as very theoretical rather than practical, so I often found myself wondering how the material learned in class would help me in the future. Of course, this system has its perks, one of them being that overall, the average Italian high school student has a higher level of general knowledge than an average Canadian (or Swedish) high schooler. Another perk is that the challenging school system leads classmates to pretty much stick together by promoting a positive and supportive classroom environment which I haven’t experienced in my high school in Sweden.

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