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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Observations Across the Pond 1

When I first moved to Italy, I must say the culture shock was quite overwhelming. I wrote a few posts called “Things I’ve Noticed about Italy/Torino” (see blog archives). I feel compelled to compose a similar post about my first impressions of the United States after being away for two years.

I don’t feel like a stranger here but I do feel strange being back here. I am glad for a few days of great weather as well as the chance to reconnect with old friends.

Things I noticed in Seattle (and its surrounding areas) Part 1:

1. I must say that during a four hour layover at the Philadelphia international Airport (my first stop in the U.S.), the first thing I noticed were to large percentage of overweight people there and in the greater Seattle area. This is funny since while my mom was in Venice with us in January, she kept commenting on how there were very few overweight people.

It's true that in Torino and Rome women are fashionable and usually well dressed. I have never seen any Italian walking around in a jogging suit or lounge wear out on the streets. No Birkenstock, no socks with sandals, no tennis shoes and no North face or Columbia gear. REI does not exist in Italy, Italian sportswear is fashionable.

2. One of the first things I did when I arrived in Seattle was to have a giant shrimp burrito, with all the fixings. I cannot believe it has been two years since I’ve had guacamole, green salsa and a corn tortilla. I really love the variety of ethnic foods I can get in Seattle. We went to dinner at a friend’s house one evening; she asked me if there was anything that I would like to eat in particular. I mentioned I hadn’t had any proper Indian food for two years. I was missing naan, samosas, mango chicken, chutney and perfumed basmati (with lemon and parsley).

Am I missing great Italian food? you bet! Fennel is 2.99/pound here from 99 cents a kilo in Torino. I bought some seeds online and hope to start a little garden patch of Italian vegetables.

3. The cars here are monstrously large. I have a station wagon that is the same size as our car in Torino. I did however see a few Smart cars here and there. They are as tiny as they were in Italy.

4. I had forgotten how large the food portions are here. We went to Dennys’ and Deme ordered the meat lovers breakfast (not a piece of fruit or veggie in sight) and even he could not finish it. Most Italians do not eat hot breakfasts but this was ridiculous. Eating less and leaving extra food on the plate is not something that comes natural to me. As a child I was told to eat everything on my plate. Since the portions are so large here, I am pushing my plate away from me when I am full. Worrying about wasting food is still a problem for me but I am working hard to overcome.

5. I love seeing all different kinds of faces in the city. There have been so many cute Asian mixed babies out there. I have met more than a few at the grocery store and at the park. I know that when Veronica grows up and we join a playgroup, she will not stick out like a sore thumb. I don't think I would be able to say the same thing if we stayed in Italy.

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At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Judith in Umbria said...

Hi, Gina!
I notice different things when I return to the US. I'll be interested to hear more of what you have to say about it.
I started to see a few of the 4 passenger Smart cars lately, and I call them the Stupid car. There was a point to the original one, but doesn't seem to be any point to the new one... they are expensive after all.
I think your baby would only "stick out" in positive ways, because she fits right into the new generation of international babies. But she is likely to be prettier and smarter than many babies, so she will be noticeable wherever she goes. Come over and visit on the still Italian blog!
Love to you all.

At 12:30 AM, Blogger Delina said...

I too find that when I go back to England I notice how different things are. I look at things a bit more like an outsider or visitor would do, even though I lived there for 20+ years.

Great new blog name!

At 4:31 AM, Blogger roberta said...

I really enjoy reading your blog, I wish you a wonderful life back in the States

At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Paz said...

Welcome back to the States, Gia-gina! I'm sorry I never made it out to Italy to see you there. Perhaps, here.


At 1:21 AM, Blogger Michellanea said...

I know exactly what you mean. I am still here in Italy but would one day like to go home. I'm sure it will be an interesting transition. I too get freaked out by portion sizes and by how often people eat out/eat fast food. I was just back for a week and ate EVERY single meal (that's 21 meals eaten out!) out as the friends/family I stayed with did not offer me anything in their homes, not even breakfast (not that they are impolite or cheap but they literally NEVER use their own kitchens despite having all top-of-the-line appliances and kitchen gadgets even I don't have, and I cook every single day). I'm sure you will adjust - just try to remember the good things I'm sure you picked up here. Michelle


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