Ever since my arrival in Arezzo, I have been observing and taking in the culture around me. From how Italians behave in restaurants to how Italians dress, every norm here differs vastly from what I am used to in the U.S. As I have begun to adapt to Italian culture I have also noticed I am beginning to follow some Italian norms myself.
There are a lot of unspoken rules and do’s and don’ts in Italian culture. A lot of rules can be learned in the work setting, which is where I have done a lot of observing through my internship. My internship for the Fall semester is at Flexline Tech, a software company in Arezzo. The software centers around photo editing with a specialization in jewelry in the commercial world. The atmosphere is very relaxed and my co workers seem very close because of the company’s small size. I am enjoying learning about the software and working on the blogs that the company runs. Its been a couple of weeks since my internship began, but I am already observing and enjoying some of the perks that come with interning at an Italian owned company. First thing, lunch time is important! My internship is open from 8:30-12:30pm. From 12:30pm to 2:30pm the office is closed for lunch. I found this somewhat shocking at first, but I actually enjoy the concept a lot. In America, stores usually do not close for lunch. Here in Italy, meal times in general are very important. With the 2 hour lunch break I notice my co workers come into work more refreshed and focused. The result is quality work and customer service. Another is that coffee is important. There is a free coffee machine at my internship, which I enjoy a lot.
Now that I have covered some norms and observations about the work culture in Italy, I will now cover some dos and dont’s in Italian culture.
1- I have observed that being loud in public, especially when drinking, is something that can be frowned upon here. In America, it is common for people to act loud and belligerent when there are even slightly intoxicated. Because the drinking culture here is so relaxed, and having beer with lunch is considered normal, Italians are much more in tune with the conversations they are having with each other.
2- Another thing I have noticed is that pets are everywhere! A long with this, pets are trained and obedient. This is something that is not common for most pets in America… which is why having pets in public in the US is not very common (unless the pet is a service animal). When pets misbehave in public in Italy, it is looked down upon.
3-A big “Do” in Italy is to have style! Even when Italians are making a quick trip to the grocery store, they dress up. It is definitely something I have grown to admire (and try to do). This is even similar in the work place. Even though my coworkers at my internship usually only talk to customers on the phone or via skype, they usually are aware of what they are wearing.
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