I was able to explore the Eternal City this summer with the help of the ISA: Summer Business, International Relations & Liberal Arts at the American University of Rome program. Going into this experience I thought I knew everything there was to know about Rome based on my knowledge of the movie Eat Pray Love, but I was far from right. Let’s talk about the wonderful Italian city and all it has to offer!
In May, National Geographic published the leading cities in sustainability around the world and Rome made the list with their innovative ideas. Despite ASU’s serious stance sustainability, we could stand to take a note or two from Italy’s capital. I see examples first hand in my apartment, on the street and in school.
The ISA program stressed the importance of adjusting to Italian ways of power usage, recycling and water waste. As weird as it may sound, the toilets were the first thing I noticed in our new place. They barely have any water in them so we won’t waste possibly countless gallons. Additionally, each apartment has a limit on the amount of power used per hour. Believe it or not, a few of my classmates have ended up in the dark after exceeding the allowance.
Recycling is big in Rome as well. Almost every trash can is separated into paper, aluminum, and regular waste. If we don’t regularly follow these guidelines, we’ll get a few dirty looks in this city. Looking at Italy’s improvements on daily life, it’s simple to carry on the idea of bringing back the benefits of another culture into our own. While Italy has so much to offer, all study abroad students can take back developments from their adventures, continuing to make ASU #1 in innovation.
Being an expatriate is all about bridging cultures, but it’s not as easy as it seems. We’ve all heard the rumors that certain countries are not fond of Americans and I can confirm this as true. Being in Italy for such a long span of time has opened my eyes to see that simply heading to a foreign land and trying to connect just won’t be good enough.
To understand what I mean when I say this, we can look at my first-hand example. My International Business class at The American University of Rome discussed some touchy topics, but several native students in the class refused to take part in the conversation in fear of offending their American classmates with their opinions. I found this extremely shocking and went on a personal mission to improve the American name. Learning the language is the first step in exhibiting openness to join the culture. Especially in a tourist area, the locals simply want to see an effort to adjust.
Bridging cultures around the world is a valuable skill that is lacking throughout all peoples. Not only can we look at the different ways to do this outside of our land, but we should attempt to integrate this into our daily lives.
Now on to the good stuff. The delicious pasta and pizza you’re bound to have in Italy are rave worthy, but what makes it so good? First of all, regular ingredients don’t quite taste the same as they would in the United States. Tomatoes, peppers and cheese are all distinctly different than back home for several reasons, one being they are significantly fresher and less modified, making it very difficult to hold fruit and veggies in your fridge for a few days.
Next, it’s all about product differentiation. The same foods around the world can taste different between regions. Italians have a different palette than Americans in the sense they like less sweet and more savory foods. Nutella is a prime example of the differences in taste around the world. Although it is a globalized brand, the treat has a new taste in every country. Whereas Nutella has more chocolate in the United States, it is more hazelnut flavored in Italy, and ever-so-slightly spicy in parts of the world. I can easily use this yummy spread in a comparison because the people of Italy use Nutella like we use butter. Seriously, at one point someone put a scoop of Nutella on top of my roommate’s gelato instead of what she thought was Nutella flavoring.
Looking at this, we can see that Italian culture expands one’s taste buds in vegetables, breads and even coffee. Arizona’s extensive coffee industry would be glad to step outside the comfort zone of Caffe Americano and indulge into a traditional cappuccino or espresso, just as we have with all types of foods.
Rome is a big place that I could easily talk about for hours. Just the same as every other country around the world, the only way to really experience it is by going yourself.