I had a great time visiting friends in England and sampling the culinary delights and terrible translations in France and Belgium with my Mom. No doubt about it. The thing is, during my first few days away from Italy, I felt a bit like a fish out of water. I experienced a bit of culture-shock, not from the point of view of my native Canadian culture however, but in reference to my adopted Italian one. What happened, you wonder? Well…
I apparently “jumped the queue” at the taxi stand in Cambridge and got reprimanded by the cab driver for not lining up properly and making sure everyone had a fair chance to get a cab. Because “queues” don’t really happen here in Italy. Big, gigantic, unruly, chaotic crowds happen in Italy, and this is how I have become accustomed to waiting for things. That is, not waiting for things and just charging ahead of everyone else, elbows at the ready. Apparently, the entire world doesn’t find this appropriate. Who’d have thought?!
I thought it was absolutely ridiculous that someone would ask for a piece of I.D. as proof of my age before buying a drink. It’s another thing that never, ever happens in Italy, but shouldn’t seem strange to me because it is standard protocol in my home province of Ontario. But still, I was surprised and even slightly miffed when my friend reminded me to bring my I.D. to the pub with me. Really?! It’s just a beer!! It can hardly count as alcohol! (That’s the Italian in me talking…)
Additionally, my English failed me completely. The muddled mixture of languages that spewed from my mouth was sometimes even embarrassing. I mean, who the heck has trouble speaking their native language?!? Me, apparently. A number of times my Mom caught me inventing words and saying things in very odd ways, or speaking to her completely in Italian and not even noticing that I was using the wrong language. Great.
Also, I wouldn’t touch any sort of food or wine that was Italian. Obviously, the only place to eat real Italian food is in Italy. Anything else would probably come up short, and I just wasn’t ready for that. (A ridiculous thing to think for someone who comes from Canada, the country of international cuisine). I was happy to drink Belgian beer and eat French baguettes, but the first things I consumed after I got back to Italy were a glass of Prosecco, a chocolate-filled cornetto, a cappuccino and a plate of pasta. And I realized I had really missed these things…
So what’s going to happen when I go back to Canada in two weeks? Will I have a hard time fitting back into my home country’s culture? Will I pine for late dinners and sugary breakfasts? Will I not be able to get to sleep in a building that’s less than 300 years old? Will my English sound like gobbledeegook?
I’ll be sure to keep you posted!