I have been quite surprised at my level of culture shock in moving here, despite my assumption that I have visited Italy on numerous occasions, would just cruise on into the groove plus we have an amazing guide, interpreter and life adjustment coach in Gabby who has been here and done this before. When I went to Africa I expected culture shock, and was pleasantly surprised with it hitting me square in the face, but here it has slowly crept in.
The main things that I have noticed
-Luca is the centre of the universe, that goes without saying for me but for everyone else in the country it seems babies are the best things ever. I have even found in some situations where I introduce myself, only to be looked at like I have 3 heads and very promptly asked what is the name of my baby? If you thought in New Zealand that mothers were invisible it is a whole other level here. Needless to say Luca thinks it is fantastic and is working his charm on everyone
-Kiwis run on a different time zone, well clearly that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out. But out timing for meals and sleep is so different to the Italian way. While staying at Gabby and Matteo’s they had people around for dinner. None of them could comprehend the fact that Luca was in fact in bed and asleep at 730pm and would be until the morning. This is unheard of bedtime for babies, even little ones is around 8-9pm and later if it is a dinner out. I am fascinated as to how this goes over in the morning, do they then kindly sleep until later or have more naps in the day?
-The above point then severely affects our ability to eat out, restaurants wont even consider serving until 7.30/8pm. So gone are the 6pm dinners that we used to take Luca to and think that we were terribly clever eating out with a baby.
-Italians are so together, clearly the Riviera has a reputation for being well dressed and a majority of the people here are on holiday from Milan and surrounding cities. So it goes without saying there is a certain dress code that is observed. However I can throw on an ok outfit and paint a face on but within 10minutes of being in town I am hot, sweaty, smudged mess and have a perm you would of paid good money for in the 80s. From my observations part of this comes down to the speed at which we move, I need to learn to slow down, there is no need for the power march here, it is a slow amble whilst looking immaculate.
-I promised myself I wouldn’t try and Kiwify our food too much, but to run with what the Italians eat. Well it hasn’t even been a month and I found myself roasting up batches of muesli for breakfast. I can’t get my head around the level of carbohydrates that one can consumer here on an average day. The problem is they are all so tasty it is at times hard to say no.
-I was a little weary about the driving and spent a lot of time as a very attentive passenger getting my head around it all. I am pleased to say this hasn’t actually been too bad to get into. Justin arrived with our lovely new Peugeot we have for the time that we are here and I am away laughing. The Italians are also laughing at me because it has a bright red, stand out a mile away French number plate. There have been a couple of things that have thrown me off, such as attempting to reverse downhill on a tiny one car wide lane and not understanding how I couldn’t see when I tried to look over my left shoulder. The other one is waving my left hand towards the window in the hopes of finding the gear stick, but these things are settling down with time. Haha the biggest challenge is probably using a gear stick again.
-Another thing that has taken a bit to get my head around is the beach. The beach is purely for the purpose of working on your tan, you can get up and dip in the water but it is straight back to working on your leathery hide (Donatella Versace). No water skiing, no handstands, no jet skis, no horsing around in the water. The beach is for sun baking and that is all.
-Space or lack of it is the final thing that is taking the most to adjust to. I find this anytime I visit a big city, I love them but why do they have so many people and cars in them? This week Justin, Luca and I had to go on a mission to Genova. Well mission it was! We ended up driving around trying to find a bank, no small feat here in Italy. We both found ourselves craving the peace and tranquillity of our mountain village and felt like we actually breathed out when we did pull in the drive. I think we take for granted in New Zealand the concept of an allocated piece of land that is your own and god forbid anyone who steps foot on it uninvited. Here it seems that everywhere is anyone’s and houses just run on into each other and around each other as they have since a couple of rooms were originally constructed a few hundred years ago. That is the one think I am craving is the peace and tranquillity that we have at home.