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Working it out in the world, and sometimes writing about it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Quirky Things

There are many quirky things about being and living in Florence. So far I have noticed these:
- I would never want to drive here. There is no order whatsoever to turning left or even driving in a straight line. I have enough trouble as a pedestrian.
- Bidets are really popular here in Europe. No one in our apartment wants to use it, so we instead put a board over it so we have somewhere to put out clothes. I think it’s a vast improvement.
- Italian men somehow think it’s necessary to lean in close when whispering something to you in passing. Thank God for iPods and not being able to understand dirty Italian.
- Older Italian men are the best. I was in a shop a few weeks ago and I was trying to talk in Italian to the owner and I flubbed, and he let out a booming laugh, gently squeeze my cheeks with both hands, and patted my head. Our landlord, Paolo, does the same things, when we aren’t being too obstreperous.
- I don’t know how to squeeze by someone on the impossibly narrow streets. I never hear Italians say “Scusa” or “Scusi,” but I walk too fast and am far too impatient to get stuck behind a Sunday stroller. I must think of a solution.
- There’s a man who, once every couple weeks, decides to scream obscenities into the night between three and six AM. Due to Francesca’s tutelage on swear words, I know exactly what he’s saying. But by the time I’ve left my dreams and realized that someone is actually yelling “Go fuck yourself, you shithead” outside my apartment, he moves over to another block and restarts his whole performance.
- Male runners here seem to be the only males in Italy under 30 who don’t look twice at women. It’s awesome.
- Italian male runners love spandex.
- Italians definitely don’t yield to pedestrians.
- Getting any sort of helpful information is difficult.
- We have a library at school; that makes sense. But what doesn’t make sense is the fact that we’re not able to check the books out. We have to read them in the hallway that constitutes the library. Not ok. My professors recommend all these great-sounding books, but I’ll be damned if I’ll sit in the “library” on a sunny afternoon and read about culture shock. Balls.

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