As the blog so clearly states these past few weeks, Marco and I recently (and finally!) had our wedding ceremony.
We decided to have it in Columbus, Ohio, where I’m from, and we were lucky that so many Italian family and friends were actually able to make the trip. Our friends took the opportunity to see other parts of the United States (I can’t blame ’em!) and visited places like New York City, Niagara Falls, Miami and even California! Some have already been, for others it was their first trip. Others, like my in-laws, have already been but were amazed nonetheless.
Mostly, they were amazed at us weird aliens known as “Americans.” The vacation was different from a normal trip in America, because they were surrounded by everyday Americans to celebrate an extremely American-style wedding. We were like a sociologist’s ideal petri-dish experiment!
Some of their comments and questions I expected. Others, I have to admit, completely surprised me.
Want to know what Italians think about Americans and America? Their biggest questions and concerns? Here are some I fielded during the week I hosted nearly 20 Italians (most are from my extremely curious father-in-law who also happens to be an engineer. I’m sure you’ll be able to guess which are his).
1. The roads are so big!
2. The cars are so big!
3. The people are so big!
4. No seriously, how are these people so fat?
5. But, they don’t walk anywhere! I just watched a group get dropped off by a hotel shuttle in front of a restaurant, shuffle inside, sit on the bench to wait then get up only to go eat. The shuttle came to pick them up afterwards! How do they digest?
6. Oh my gosh this food is so rich. How do Americans ever digest it all?
7. The portions are huge!
8. This is delicious.
9. Cake! American cake!
10. What is this blacktop made of? It’s smoother than Italian blacktop.
11. Why aren’t the shingles here made out of clay, like ours? What are they made out of?
12. On every street there are manicured strips of grass. They look like they’re cut daily!
13. Americans use chopped up wood in their flower beds called mulch. There’s mulch everywhere.
14. Oh my gosh look how big that house is!
15. There aren’t any fences or gates – everything’s left open!
16. Of course they’re able to have screens to block the mosquitoes, they don’t care a thing about energy consumption.
21. So efficient!
22. What do you mean the bride shows up on time? She’s not going to show up even a little late? It’s tradition!
23. American house party!
25. Cornhole! Wait, what’s cornhole?
26. This corn tastes totally different.
27. There’s corn everywhere!
28. Now is this house on a septic system or a sump-pump system?
29. Look how big this mall is!
30. Americans are SO NICE!
31. Seriously they are so helpful. Everywhere we went they offered to help us.
32. Why are Americans so nice?
33. And look how slow they drive!
32. There are police officers everywhere.
33. They drink beer directly from the bottle!
34. You have raccoons, squirrels, ‘possums and groundhogs?!
35. Look how big these oak trees are!
36. You actually swim in ponds?
37. How is that pond aerated and treated?
38. The pasta is overcooked.
39. The rice is overcooked.
40. Seriously do they not know how to cook anything al dente?
41. Oh my gosh there’s garlic in this.
42. There’s garlic everywhere!
43. Oh this pizza is good!
44. What’s that?
45. I’ve never heard of salad dressing.
46. Where can I get regular extra virgin olive oil?
47. I miss Italian coffee
48. Americans sure know how to party!
49. Everything is just so much farther here. The country is so big!
50. Everything is bigger here!
Our week-long event was exhausting, fun and entertaining. Italians learned a lot about American culture that they likely didn’t fully grasp before. About the distances, the driving, the way we dress and what we expect. They learned about our personal space and idea of size. Probably the biggest shock was the food, but I think we were still able to get a few compliments here and there! At the same time, we helped my American friends and family to understand the Italian culture a bit more. They listened to the language nearly non-stop. So much so, that my nearly 9-year-old nephew gave me a hearty “ciao bella!” which he had learned on his own. They learned about kissing on both cheeks, about saying bye for full minutes instead of just once and that Italian dressing for salads doesn’t actually exist in Italy. They also learned about Italian wedding traditions like confetti and showing up late.
The week was a thrill. Totally worth the unanswerable engineering questions!