by Willis Sexton
My first trip to Italy is now underway, the culture difference between the United States and Italy were apparent upon exiting the plane to catch a bus to the terminal. Entering the airport it became clear there was no air conditioning, the heat in the building was more than outside, however no one seemed to mind. Many employees made their way around the airport performing their jobs while wearing surgical masks, I immediately began to wonder what mysterious disease I was currently being exposed to with my lack of a mask. The Uncertainty of being in a land foreign to me was sinking into me now. I am not accustomed to seeing people walking around or performing daily jobs wearing a mask unless they are in a profession such as the medical field.
When I go about my daily life in the US I rely heavily on the comforts of home, the air conditioning is utilized in my home and in my car. The lack of this utility which I take for granted in my life is seemingly a luxury item. In the US we utilize electricity at high rates as it is relatively cheap, in Italy electricity is expensive and used in moderation, this combined with buildings that are many centuries old in many cases makes it impractical for air conditioning in most situations.
The idea of conserving resources appears to be important to the people of Italy. In addition to conserving electricity, recycling is also common, this can be seen with the availability of various disposal containers for separating your items to be recycled as well as the emphasis for recycling by the landlord when checking into the apartment makes it clear that this is important to the people of Italy. Conservation even be seen in the low usage of water in the toilet, combined with multiple flush cycles. In the US we have become a culture of me,me, me, most of us do not consider the impact to others when we live our everyday lives, burning through electricity, water, gasoline, etc along with recycling not being as prevalent shows me a contrast in culture that I have not had the chance to experience. This is a learning experience both in the classroom and the immersion into another country. I face uncertainty and excitement in the coming days as I continue to experience small town Italy.