When I travel to a new place far enough away from Raleigh, I can't help but notice all of the differences in culture and daily life. I don't really think about why things are the way they are when I'm home – why are our stoplights over the road? Why do children take a yellow bus to school? Why is everyone obsessed with Cookout milkshakes? But when I'm in another country, and all of these seemingly normal occurrences are different, I find them very interesting.
(Speaking of differences: I'm typing this on a computer configured in Italian with an American keyboard set-up. Microsoft Word on this computer is in Italian, so to bold (grassetto) I have to hit Ctrl + G, not Ctrl + B. It took me a while to figure that one out!)
This might be a European phenomenon in general, but there are some crazy drivers over here. Italians drive on the same side of the road as Americans do, but everywhere is a passing zone and speed limits (in kilometers per hour) seem to be optional. In the city there are designated parking spots, but really anywhere mostly out of the road will do. And if you think that roundabout on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh is bad, then you would not believe some of the roadways here. I'm pretty sure we drove though a roundabout attached to another roundabout one day.
In Udine, along the main road leading into downtown, there are two side lanes along the road used for parking, which makes the traffic flow much more efficient. Again, like with the rest of Europe, most of the cars are compact and made for parallel parking. I've only seen one pickup truck and one SUV-type car during my stay here, and I doubt I'll see any more.
We have been going to a grocery store called Panorama to get food. The Italians apparently don't like going to the supermarket once a week and stocking up like Americans do. Before every dinner, her uncle has been going to the store to buy the necessary ingredients--even though he has a fridge and plenty of food storage space. One of my favorite things is to buy fresh bread. You get a little glove and a bag, pick out which type of bread you want (there are dozens). Then you go to the scale to weigh your purchase, and it prints out a little sticker with a barcode and a price for the item.
The produce I've eaten so far has been very fresh. I love strawberries, and the sad, squishy little red fruits at Food Lion just can't compare to the ones I had this morning. Delicioso!
They also have digital prices underneath all of the items on shelves. Very high tech.
There are flowers everywhere here: in window boxes, gardens, on trellises, in fields. It seems like most of these flowers are roses, and I've seen them in almost every color imaginable--red, pink, cream, magenta, yellow, even orange--and they produce the most wonderful smell. Maybe there's something in the soil here, because I've never smelled anything like it before.
Thank you for reading! Arrivederci!