Italian cultural perceptions:
My understanding of Italian culture is still in its infancy, but I’m noting a few things. Italian culture is strong, passionate and focused albeit outside of American cultural foci. The north and south are divided first and foremost by their histories and the historical influence of incoming conquerors. This is seconded only by their acceptance of international cultural shifts. In the north there is a stronger German and Swiss influence. This, combined with the north’s wealth and involvement in global and financial trade systems, is reflected in their cultural values. This change is still altering their perception of order, and precision.
In the south life is based on a different type of quality. Instead of material wealth, possessions and the need to acclimate to an American global business model…time spent with family, food, and enjoying life seems to outrank all else. Like any generalizations these are conceptions representing conclusions I’ve come to through limited exposure during my stay. They are not exhaustive.
I’ve been staying in Milan far to the north, an industrialized city trading with international partners. The people here are a mixture of northern and southern Italians with international residents rampant as well. It’s a melting pot which offers me a chance to see a specific type of person. One who chooses, whether for economic or personal reasons, to brave a metropolis in search of something.
As I’ve learned more about Italian culture its focus on life, food, and familial bonds is impressive. Many Italians live together in multi-family residences sharing space until the family grows too large or members must move away to find better work. Often children will live at home until getting married or finishing university. Additionally with multiple families living in apartment units and the lack of aversion to shared rooms (I personally live in a 2 bedroom apartment housing four students) there is a greater focus on community involvement. Dinner is often the center gathering point. An interesting break from the culture of isolation I’m used to in the U.S. where families are cut out of their communities, and there is a focus on independence and breaking from the family.
Language is also interesting. The difference between a friendly ciao and a buon giorno is night and day. As I learn and use more Italian I’m constantly reminded of the danger of mixing up the formal and informal tenses. For instance if I make a mistake and use the formal tense with an Italian friend or a girl I like it comes off as cold, disconnected and rude. But if I’m informal and greet an Italian I don’t know with ciao it is disrespectful and rude – Maleducato.
Look forward to seeing two of my youtube video’s up this weekend!