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An Italian in Philly: 10 Cultural Shocks – Part 1

Week 5 has just come to an end, which means I am basically mid-way through my exchange time abroad. Despite still having many places to see and things to do I’ve already confronted many aspects of the American culture that shocked me, so here’s a short list.

#10 Customer Service

One of the first culture shocks you’re going to experience when you come to the US is going to be the customer service. No matter the job they do (could be a waiter as well as your exchange coordinator), people always try to give you the best service possible and care about your experience with them. Safe to say that in Italy you’d consider yourself lucky if a waiter served you while not making you feel like you’re wasting their time.

#9 Holidays Celebration

Another big cultural difference between Italy and the US is how much American people generally care about holidays. At the beginning of October every shop was already starting to sell Halloween decorations and themed candies. In my last article I also spoke about the Harvest Weekend, a fall-themed festival with pumpkins and hay bales in every corner. In Italy, all that budget for the decorations would have probably gone towards the food.

#8 School System

I won’t spend too much time on this point since I already wrote an entire article about it (that I suggest you read here), but the Italian and the American school systems couldn’t be more different. The Italian one focuses more on gaining knowledge while the American one focuses on putting things into practice and training soft skills. In fact, classes at Drexel University are extremely interactive, usually with many different activities to do and as a student you really play an active role.

#7 Air Conditioning

One thing I was totally not expecting coming here was the excessive amount of air conditioning that is used everywhere. Schools, supermakerts, restaurants, literally every closed space was freezing! Maybe I’m too used to the hot weather we have in Italy, but nevertheless I defenitely suggest to bring a jacket everywhere you go, even during summer.

#6 Diversity

I can’t speak for other countries, but in Italy it’s hard to find a lot of diversity, certainly not as much as you find here. I’ve only been in Philly for about six weeks and I think I met more people from different ethnic backgrounds here than in my lifetime in Italy. I personally love being able to talk and get to know people with such different cultures than mine and I believe the US is the best place to do so.

These are only a few of the cultural shocks that show how different the Italian and American cultures are. If you’re curious to learn more stay tuned for my next week’s post where I’m going to list the last five of them!

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