As I was preparing myself for my trip to Italy, I couldn’t help but to worry about standing out. Having blonde hair and light features is not exactly “common” for Italians, so I knew I would stick out like a sore thumb. Upon my arrival, I was shocked to see how many Italians automatically greeted me with a “hello” rather than a “ciao” or “buongiorno.” This was disappointing at first, as they automatically know I’m an American, however, it was nice to know that they were trying to have a conversation with me, rather than just mumbling some Italian words resulting in me giving them a confused head tilt. So far, I have learned that some Italians are hospitable and friendly as they try to conversate with you, while others are quite the opposite. As a student here, I am a guest, or a tourist as some see it, and I cannot expect all Italians to be friendly. In fact, most Italian locals will simply ignore the tourists as they are on their way to work and wish not to be bothered. This may result in the Italians coming off as rude to many Americans as the Italians as a whole are not a very smiley group of people. Americans, however, will walk down the street with a smile on their face simply because its a beautiful day out. As this is not the culture here, we cannot expect every Italian we see to smile back at us. It just doesn’t work like that. I believe part of the problem with the stigma of Italians being rude and unfriendly is that we expect them to act like we do at home. But that is not the case. We are in their home, and we should respect that not every Italian you meet is going to greet you with a kiss on each side of the cheek. This first month has opened my eyes to see how different Italian men and women are from us Americans. Their culture is completely different, and in fact, us staring with a big smile on our face may come off as rude to them!
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