There is an initiative I’m really enjoying on Amiche di fuso, a great blog written by Italian expats around the world. It’s about listing the five cultural shocks people had in the countries they moved to… I can tell you it is quite hard to choose, because at the beginning everything is shocking, and after many years you end up forgetting it! So, these were my five cultural shocks in the UK:
1- Houses tend to be shabby and dirty, with low quality details and furniture (compared to what is normal in Italy). On the other hand, public toilets are usually clean and well maintained, which is great. At one point I lived with a staying-in landlady who I never saw cleaning the house, so much that I decided to pay a cleaner myself after my working hours, to clean at least the toilet and my room. The landlady complained saying that “evenings are for chilling out” and didn’t allow me to call the cleaner again.
2- Women wear flip-flops and ballet pumps all year round and with any clothes. Then it rains and they sprain their ankles because the floor is slippery. I just cannot get it.
3- You meet the same colleague in the lift at work for years (or on the bus…), but he will not say Hello to you until somebody introduced you formally at least once. On the matter of greetings, English people don’t kiss/touch each other as much as Italian people. It was not a big shock for me, though, because I’ve always been quite reserved and I don’t mind!
4- The answer to the question “How are you?” is “How are you?”. They just don’t tell you in school…
5- You know what is coming now… the Cappuccino. English people have it any time of day… I got used to it now, but for Italian people is a matter of principle that you don’t drink cappuccino after lunch!