5 Strange Things I Notice About The U.S. While Living in Italy

Living abroad

Living in Italy for almost three years has made me forget how certain things are done in the States. On a recent month trip to Seattle and Hawaii I noticed some things that struck me as odd, things that were once a normalcy.

Culture Shock in America

Dryers do exist

laundry day, living abroad

I’ve been hang drying my clothes for the past two and a half years, so a dryer feels like a total luxury. I forgot that laundry doors never seem to stay open, causing much irritation when trying to load and unload it. After using dryers in the U.S. I’m now stuck with a shirt that shrunk above my bellybutton and jeans that are so tight I need to grease my legs first before I attempt to wear them again. 

America loves Mexican food

Mexican food, living abroad

Mexican food in Florence is non-existent aside from the poor quality restaurant Tijuana, which is only decent at making salsa and a classic margarita. Other than that it’s awful, so no one even thinks to eat Mexican let alone share their love for it. Hawaii serves fish tacos everywhere…now I know just because you throw fresh mahi and avocado into a round thing made of corn doesn’t mean it’s Mexican food, but it’s as close to Mexican as I get in Italy, so I’ll take it!

Waiters can be annoying

living abroad expat problems

I love to take my time at restaurants in Florence and not be asked every five minutes if everything is ok. I was at a place recently where I jokingly told my friend that I’m going to leave if the waitress asks me the same question one more time. It was irritating to have a bouncing pony tail swing around my table more often than necessary. 

Stores stay open 

open 24 hours

No matter how long I stay while I’m back in the States—usually a month at a time—I still have this shocked look on my face when I realize that no one closes for lunch. Oh, America, you’re so good to me!

Lame aperitivo

peanuts, living abroad

Every Spritz you order in Italy opens your world up to a dish or two of some snack—or meal depending on how you abuse aperitivo hour. In the States, you’re lucky if you get a communal bowl of peanuts. I prefer Italy’s happy hour version with a full spread of healthy options or mini panini served by the bartender, how ’bout you? 

What cultural norms are now odd to you after traveling or living abroad?

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  • Love this! Interesting to see how you view things when you live away from your home country and then go back for a bit!

  • Ya, the laundry is still funny to me, since I’m used to the hassle of hanging everything up. 🙂

  • Helen

    Everything is BIG. T-paper, paper towels, billboards, road signs, highways, candy bars, pizzas.

  • Very true! Big products and convenience are things I’m not used to 🙂

  • Haha love it.

  • Thanks 😉

  • Ethan

    Your comment about the quality of Tijuana’s food was spot on. Mexican food was one of the things I craved when I lived in Florence, and Tijuana definitely disappointed me. If I remember correctly, the margaritas were half price from 5-7 on Wednesdays though!

  • Ya the margaritas aren’t that bad although I’m sure there from a mix. The rest was disappointing.

  • Coral

    Good observations, Tiana! I would add that I despise ice water and the constant filling- btw..ICE WATER IN JANUARY?? Why…why??! (ahahahaha…)

  • I always hated ice in my water, but ya, the constant filling of the glass is irritating!

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  • Nazim Beltran

    Most foreign food (apart from Sushi) is quite hard to get even in Milan. I love heading back to Austin when I visit my friends and indulging in Tacos for a whole week! Any suggestion of Italian Restaurants on my USA visits is shun upon!

  • Ya, it is tough to eat “Italian” food in America after living in Italy!