Living in a foreign country requires that one be adaptable. There are all sorts of things I have had to get used to in daily life and there are still many others I am still learning (such as using the metric system!). Below are a few other examples:
- Most every front door opens inward (in the States, for evacuation purposes, exterior doors on public buildings are required to open outward). This is pretty second-nature to me now but at first, it can be pretty embarrassing to always be pulling rather than pushing on doors when entering a restaurant or store!
- “Baci! Baci!” (Kiss! Kiss!) Learning how to master the Italian greeting takes time and practice! The first few days and even weeks after someone moves to Italy or any other culture that uses a similar greeting can be pretty awkward for us Americans who are used to respecting one another’s personal space and at most, giving a quick handshake when greeting strangers and acquaintances. This was something I really missed while I was back in the Sates last year. I have really come to love and appreciate the way Italians (and specifically Sicilians), personally greet one another whenever they come or go, though I admit there are occasionally still times and places when I am unsure if or when to greet others in this manner.
- Reading and using military time
- Always greet a shopkeeper before starting to look around and/or help myself to things… and not forgetting to greet them as I leave too!
- Always bagging my own groceries, bringing reusable bags with me whenever I go to the grocery store or market + expecting to pay for plastic bags should I forget my reusable bags at home.
- Remember most everything is closed on Sundays so do my grocery shopping for Sundays, the day before!
- Plan my day around riposo (the afternoon break Monday through Saturday when most businesses are closed from 1pm -4pm. In other words: don’t plan on running any errands between the hours of 1 and 4pm.
- Don’t be surprised or offended if guests don’t arrive and/or events don’t start on time
- Do expect all my change from a 5 euro bill to be in coins (when the change is from a 5 is an even one or two euros, at first, I would often forget these denominations only come in coins and would, as I was in the habit of doing in the States, start to zip up the coin pocket of my wallet, only to realize I should have left it open.)
- Plan ahead so I don’t show up at someone’s home empty-handed, always bring something!
- Watch for dog poop – it’s everywhere!