Travel Log 5: “Conversations” by Jill Belrant; Perugia Italy

I am learning so much about Italy, more than I ever expected. I have an amazing Italian professor who is teaching me how to speak and write in Italian. So far it is a challenge for me. She is very helpful and always has her door open for me. I decided to interview her to hear about her views on Italy. I interviewed my professor about the ten culture contracts culture descriptions. The first question was change versus tradition. My professor Marta explained to me that the answer to this question is different depending on the area of Italy. She said in the north they believe change is good, but in the south they are more old fashion and believe having tradition is better. Religion is an important part of life in Italy, which leads back to keeping the same traditions. The second question about materialism versus spirituality is also based on north and south perspectives. Marta said that in the South spirituality growth is really important for the same reason before, religion. In the north they are very materialistic and it is becoming a trend. When it comes to rational versus intuitive thinking, she said, “ Italy is the country of creativity” which goes without being said they are more intuitive thinkers. Most Italians are very passionate about their work and what they do. In certain situations the people who have a job that needs to be rational, then think in a linear way that would be the minority of the people though. Youth versus age, Marta said old age is not respected, especially from young people. Family is very important so in your family you should have respect for the elderly but as a whole population it is not valued. Independence versus dependence, Italians are more dependent of their families, my teacher said the economy is not good so it is hard for young people to find jobs. Therefore financially they are very dependent on their families. Also she explained to me that the stereotype of a momma’s boy is very true in Italy, which goes along with being very dependent on their families. My teacher has a baby boy 15 months old and she said she hopes he goes up to become independent and not so dependent on her husband and herself. Equality versus hierarchy and rank, for the most part equality in social settings honored but in the workforce and politics it is important to have ranks. She said the people that are not treated as equals are the immigrants, most people do not respect them. Boasting versus modesty, modesty is the way to act, Italians do not brag about themselves and never want to sound arrogant. Marta said that Informality versus formality depends on the situations; informality is good for usual everyday situations. Formality is important for certain jobs, like some universities are formal in Italy, but ours is casual because the students are more causal. Some theater is formal depending the location and what is playing. Direct versus indirect questioning, Marta said she is very direct with close family and friends, because they know her and can accept what she says. In the workplace and with the students she said she is indirect because we do not know each other well, and she cannot be as honest with us because we may not take it in the best way. Confrontation versus avoidance they are confrontation for the most part, but Marta also says it depends on the personality and the contacts of the situations, which I agree with.

Through this journey thus far I have realized I am learning so much from just living here in Italy, than I would in a classroom back at school. “The Best and most Beautiful things in the World cannot be Seen or even Touched. They must be Felt with the Heart”-Helen Keller. Being abroad is must more than just seeing touristy places; it is enriching me as a person.

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