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

written by Tiana Kai
One Up America

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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Things I noticed when living abroad | Life in I... January 2, 2015 at 7:50 am

[…] Living abroad has opened my eyes to how some things are considered normal back in America, where they may be complete oddities or luxuries in Italy.  […]

Becky Padmore January 2, 2015 at 11:40 am

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

Tiana Kai January 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

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

Helen January 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm

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

Tiana Kai January 3, 2015 at 8:38 pm

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

Niccolò Brogi January 4, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Haha love it.

Tiana Kai January 5, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Thanks 😉

Ethan January 7, 2015 at 5:17 pm

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!

Tiana Kai January 7, 2015 at 7:30 pm

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

Coral January 12, 2015 at 4:42 am

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

Tiana Kai January 12, 2015 at 9:03 am

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

Things I noticed when living abroad | Go, Trave... January 22, 2015 at 10:39 pm

[…] Living abroad has opened my eyes to how some things are considered normal back in America, where they may be complete oddities or luxuries in Italy.  […]

Nazim Beltran February 1, 2015 at 2:33 pm

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!

Tiana Kai February 1, 2015 at 7:16 pm

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


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