Ryan Chartrand

After living in Italy for over one month now, I have experienced a whole new way of life and in my time here, I have decided that Italians simply do it better. The approach to living in Italy is the absolute opposite from that in America and is something everyone should have the chance to experience.

Italians manage time better, refusing its existence. To them, time is just a number. In Viareggio, a small town where my study abroad program held its orientation, shops and stores opened at 11 a.m., closed at 1 p.m. then reopened again around dinner time until midnight. Frequently one could walk up to a store during its regular hours and find a note taped to the door informing customers that the shopkeeper went out for a coffee and would be back in five minutes (which really translated to 20). Upon our arrival to Florence, things were a little different. Florence is much more accommodating to the population because of its size and popularity among tourists. However, in both places, being on time means arriving late and reservations at restaurants are just an approximation. Italians walk slow when they have to get somewhere and run fast just to run. People go to bed when they are tired and wake up not to an alarm but when they are ready for the day. And here watches are an accessory, not a necessity.

Italians drink better. Rather than opting for the reduced price 1.25 euro bottle of wine from the shop next door, Italians will choose something they like and enjoy it, regardless of how inexpensive or costly it is. They do just as their saying reads, “Rather one good bottle of wine a month than a poor bottle every night.” No real Italian goes to bars to throw ten shots back, or participates in a belligerent game of power hour or beer pong. To Italians, being drunk is being sick. They prefer to enjoy their drinks; sipping them slowly. While we complete one, two, three, maybe four beers in a sitting, the Italians at the table next to us will drink only one, and receive just as much, if not more pleasure from it. In addition, they are able to walk home at the end of the evening while the cab drivers take whatever money is left after a night out from drunken tourists.

Italians live it up! The unattractive quality of living in such a business oriented, time crunch country is that Americans rarely get the chance to completely enjoy the free time they have. In Italy it seems that everyone tries their best to get the most enjoyment possible with the time given. Anytime is an occasion to celebrate and anything, no matter the circumstance, is upped a degree. Coffee isn’t taken in a cardboard cup on the way to somewhere else but rather is drunk with the sole intention of sitting and enjoying the beverage. The sun is a perfectly good excuse to call in sick for work and meals are not a necessity but a chance to converse with friends and eat good food.

My time in Italy has introduced me to an incredibly different way of life than what I am accustomed to in America. Through my traveling within the country and the people I have met, I have been introduced to a better way of living. I hope everyone presented with the opportunity to study abroad takes the chance to experience life in an entirely new, astonishing way, like I have.

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