Few days ago I read this article about 7 things Americans can learn by Italians.
As an Italian immigrated to the US, I read it with a more realistic and objective point of view than an Italian who has never met an American or never lived here in the USA. And honestly, I have to say that I agree on all those 7 points.
On the other hand, I should not hide that in these three years of living in USA, I’ve found 7 things that also ITALIANS COULD LEARN BY AMERICANS.
Here my list:
1) Make your life easier: Americans are masters of inventing things to make daily life as easy as possible. From the beer bottle lids that you just unscrew to the fireplace that you just switch on/off with a “click” to the stores that are open any day at any time. (Good luck if you are in Italy and you need to buy milk for your toddler on a Sunday or on Christmas day!!!). Then there are the stores where you can find anything you are looking for (you can buy groceries or toys at the pharmacy!!) and the “drive through” services available almost everywhere (bank, laundry shop, pharmacy, fast food). Yep, sometimes it could be the reason not to walk in is just because you are lazy, but what about somebody with walking problems, or mothers with one, two or more children? How much easier it makes your life just lower the window of your car and get what you are looking for!
2) Americans are more “family friendly”: I don’t know why, but before moving to the US, I didn’t even know that a couple with kids could have fun! As an example, in Italy if you go to a restaurant with your kids, they just look at you as if you were mentally ill.
In the US, there are plenty of facilities for families (Family museum, Family Gym), many creative activities for families all year long, plenty of “kid friendly” restaurants and stores – ones where you easily could find a changing table, sometimes even with a diaper-dispenser. Good luck finding that in Italy!
3) Americans make kids when they are young: Maybe it depends on what I wrote in #2, but what impressed me most when we moved here is that Americans don’t wait to be settled before having kids. You can see young parents (not older than 30) with already 2 or 3 kids, and to me, this is awesome! The Italians average age to have kids is between 35 and 44 (really!?!), because everybody waits to have a degree, a beautiful house, some money saved, and lots of trips taken internationally before deciding to have kids and (maybe) get married.
4) Pay less attention to exterior appearance: Yes, it is true that Italians are always trying to look perfect, that they check up themselves many times before to go out (even if is just to go buying groceries or working out!!!!), and this is appreciable in some ways, but Italians are also fashion’s slave and most of the time they pay more attention to the clothing, than to the person in it!!!! So, ok that is rude to go buy groceries in your pajamas, but please, Italians, give the right weight to appearance!!!!
5) Less bureaucracy: Do you need a Social Security card, driver’s license, work permit, or passport? Here, you rarely wait more than two weeks, just a form to be filled out, and that’s it. In Italy, you just have to pray not to need to go to a public office- ever. You could spend all your life there and not get what you needed! I don’t have a direct experience in starting a business in the US, but I am told it wouldn’t take too much effort, money, or paperwork, or fees to be paid in advance.
6) Gas costs and general cost of living: Maybe it is unfair comparing the cost of petrol between Italy and America, since the US is one of the largest petrol producers in the world, but in Italy the cost of petrol is ridiculous- not just for the import fees. And in general, the cost of living is double, independently from the exchange value (some examples: clothing, baby stuff, toys, appliances, cars, and houses are all way more cheaper here in the US!).
7) Patriotism (and solidarity): You have no idea how touching is to me noticing that almost all Americans own a USA flag, and that many of them keep it in the front yard on display. How Americans feel united in peace or war, and how supportive they are to each others, especially for those people with health or money issues. Unfortunately Italians are not like that. Even if Italy is a very small country, the population of each region feels the need to be distinguished from the others. It seems that everybody has forgotten how much our ancestors had suffered and fought to get one united Italy in the past. And this is very, very sad.
I would like to conclude this post, pointing out that I LOVE ITALY, I think it is an AWESOME COUNTRY, and I’m always happy to get back there as often as I can.
BUT BEING AWESOME, DOESN’T MEAN THAT WE DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AROUND AND LEARN FROM OTHERS HOW TO GET BETTER AND BETTER EVERY DAY.
4 thoughts on “7 Things Italians can learn by Americans”
I’m Italian, I understand your points, I don’t see this issue about going to a restaurant with children, in Italy. I see, in north-east’s beaches, many entertainment for children and their family, for example I was in Riccione last August, in a bathing establishment an actor did a funny job for kids. And it’s just an example. Maybe what you’ve written it’s something from the area you were born in.
About patriotism, you say many Italians fought and suffered to unite Italy, but you forget millions of Italians also fought and suffered to NOT join Italy. You can’t compare Italy to U.S. Native Americans are the real natives, other people are immigrants. Yes, I do love my region over Italy. Ciao ciao.
Dear Eleonora , I thank you a lot for sharing your experience with us. I know, anytime somebody makes a generalization, somewhat the exceptions are escluded. What I was trying to explain – obviously only According my life in Italy – is that usually restaurants are not very prepared to welcome or intertained kids. Of course Riviera Romagnola should have facilities for families (it is a very famous touristic area), but if you try the “Città’ D’arte” you barely will find restrooms with changing table, high chairs and boosters and so. About your second point, I respect your opinion but I keep having my point of view, and prefer not get much into political and historical subjects with you because it would be Too complicated and long.
I totally agree with you. I love living in Italy, but I pretty much miss everything you have mentioned about North America, especially now that I’m a mom. I would also add that it’s awful not to have decent sidewalks and roads. I always feel like I’m risking my and my child’s life every time I take her for a walk.
Thanks Barbara!! And you are right! I totally forgot about sidewalks, which are for sure something “family friendly” and that “makes life easier”!!!
A huge hug to you and your precious Penelope.