Home expat life Living In Italy: The 11 Most Common Things That Italians Ask Me

Living In Italy: The 11 Most Common Things That Italians Ask Me

written by M.E. Evans December 2, 2013
United States

United States (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

1. In America it is true that your parents do not love you and they throw you out of the house at 18? Yes. That’s mostly true. In fact, many American parents throw their kids out even earlier than that. My mom actually gave birth wearing cross trainers so she could sprint away from me as soon as I came out. Most moms in the US do that. If you can hold on to her leg tight enough then they take you home with them until you’re eighteen where they throw you out again. In all seriousness, yes, our kids usually leave at 18 years old or twenty-two if they go to college. Why? Our culture is more independent and it is considered bad for children to not try to secure their independence because if they don’t learn how to do it they won’t be successful. Many Americans are obsessed with success. I’m pretty sure my parents wanted me to move out so I could learn how to be competitive but also because they probably wanted to party. PAAARTAAAAY!

2. But you’re American? You’re not fat! That’t true. While the US is sadly the home of excess I was lucky enough to get the skinny gene from my mom who I think came from a long line of tree nymphs. Also I work out a lot. And was vegan for like 15 years. Also I didn’t learn how to eat because my mom threw me out at eighteen.

3. All of your country loves war, really? Uhm, I want to say no but the truth is that we kind of do. I am personally not into

Engraving of Spaniards enslaving Native Americ...

Engraving of Spaniards enslaving Native Americans by Theodor de Bry (1528–1598), published in America. part 6. Frankfurt, 1596. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

war because if you think about it it’s ridiculous. “I get my men, you get yours, and the one with the least dead wins!” A monkey sport, if you ask me. If I was leader we would have a jump rope contest or a dance off. I think that the world has progressed to a point where we can do without war. Also, Rome was kind of the warlord of the universe for like ever. Which actually makes me wonder how the Romans turned into Italians who totally suck at winning wars (for the Italians who are going to try to inject a history lesson here, I’ll go ahead and do it myself: Italians suck at war because the country unified only recently and nationalism was at an all time high under fascism is still low, really. Because Italians didn’t understand the idea of fighting for “country.” They still identified with their regions more than the country as a whole. Also, they missed their mom’s raviolis. I would leave the trenches too if I was running distance to my

Spaghetti all' arrabbiata

Spaghetti all’ arrabbiata (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

mom’s pasta). Oh, but I digress. So, while I’m not into war and the US empire crap I really like war movies. I also like war history. My father who is not American says that we have warrior genes. So, probably during the zombie apocalypse I would be all warrior princess and awesome and all for it and like “war! fuck yes!” but that’s probably because my parents didn’t love me.

4. Americans are violent yes? You have the mafia, yes? I’m pretty sure that every country has the Chinese mafia and the Italian mafia. But the mafia is not what makes the US violent, actually. While in Italy there are groups of violent people (like the mafia in Napoli etc) the general Italian public is not that violent. In the US I’m afraid to yell at a child because it might come back with a saw and take my head off. That is true. Some would argue that economic stratification is the culprit. I think it’s because we’re obsessed with war and our mom’s kicked us out of her womb and then the house.

5. Your food is all gross, yes? Mostly. Our food tastes like plastic and chemical because we have a corporatism and corporations want to make money and don’t care if they poison the general population. However, this exists in most countries in one form or another (like how Berlusconi poisons minds with his shitty TV stations). Locally grown, good food is available in most states but you’ll have to pay for it. A lot of people pay with the babies they don’t want. Also, distance is a problem as food is transported from far away which means it has to be picked before it’s fully ripe. Why? Because we’re spoiled and we need everything year round. I don’t know. I have no answers for this.

6. Americans are all rich, right? Uhm, no. I wish that were the case because I could buy a lot of McNuggets with the extra money but the truth is that there are a lot of homeless people in the US and a lot of single parents who struggle to raise children and feed and clothe them. It is a meritocracy which means that if you don’t have merit you get fucked in your tocracy. The original idea was that hard work would pay off and for a long time it did. However, as things have changed one can’t work their way up in a company anymore without education. Education costs a fortune (like $50,000 at a community college or up to $250,000 ivy league) which kind of impairs many people’s ability to improve their situation. There are billions of factors involved in this and I’m already out of breathe so let’s just say that no, we’re not all rich. However, some people are incredibly rich and many people are well-off and many, many people are living in poverty and practically dying in the streets.

English: A pile of McDonalds Chicken McNuggets...

English: A pile of McDonalds Chicken McNuggets, as bought in America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia). MMM. McAwesome Nuggets (made of gross).

7. Americans love McDonalds huh? Mostly. I mean, the company is so successful that I think it shows that a lot of Americans really liked it at one time. I know entire generations of people who were raised on Happy Meals (thanks mom!). A lot of people love fast food (hence the obesity rates) but there is a small group who like quality food and who don’t eat McDonalds. Those people eat Burger King instead.

8. You don’t look American. You were born there? For some reason people expect me to look Swedish. “Where is your blonde hair and pale skin!?” We only look Swedish if we have Swedish DNA. This clearly shows that American TV and Movies do a crappy job of representing the US. There is no such thing as “looking” American. Our country is an immigrant country. My father is American but he was born in Iran. My mother’s family is from Wales. My step-mother’s family is from Germany. My best friend’s mom is mexican but her dad is czech. Which leads me to the next question.

The TV series The Sopranos has been criticized...

The TV series The Sopranos has been criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes about Italian Americans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. Why do Americans always say they are “half” Italian? Well, this is really difficult for a lot of people who are not from an immigrant country to understand. Canadians, Australians, Americans all have a strange culture in the sense that we are all raised differently. Some people say that Americans don’t have “culture” but it’s not true (DAD!) it’s that we all have so many backgrounds that all of our families do things a little bit differently as people have held on to their “homeland” for many generations. My friends who have Italian blood might be American in nationality but they gesture wildly with their hands, they eat lasagne on Thanksgiving and Christmas,  and some of them even speak Italian, and were raised with Italian culture injected into them. They were raised in America by parents who still wanted to instill their native traditions. My father is Persian. While I was raised in the US it is easy to see the Persian influence in our family and in each of us individually (a very traditional father with very conservative views and insanely strong family values). Our family differs from other families who once immigrated from Germany or France or wherever. I have expat friends who raised their children in Italy for their entire lives, yet, it is easy to see the American influence in the kids. They are “Italian” but with some American mannerisms, ways of thinking, and some culture. So, when someone says they are “half Italian” they are either idiots from south Jersey who think that it makes them look cool (Snookie, ahem) or they have Italian blood and were raised with a mix of American and Italian culture.

10. You don’t have things like the Dumo in America do you!? DO YOU!? No. No we don’t. I don’t know why the world stopped building awesome things and I don’t know why we don’t build cool stuff in the US. It’s lame. That’s why we all come to Italy and bother ya’ll.

11. You don’t have health insurance!? Depends. Some do but some people are dying because they don’t. This is complicated. I should be drunk for this. Deep breathe. So, Italians pay health insurance to the state through their jobs and every resident gets it. This is awesome because everyone gets healthcare (it is problematic because a lot of people are not working and are not helping to pay for state healthcare costs). In the US you get insurance through a private company. The problem is that the companies can CHOOSE to not let you buy it. If you are sick, or you’ve had problems in the past, they can tell you NO. Which means you can’t go to the doctor. Also, if you lose your job, no health insurance. If you’re in college, no health insurance, etc. Without health insurance you’ll just basically die if something happens to you or worse the hospital will treat you and then charge you 3 million dollars. Or they just take your kids away and sell them.

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Alessio Bianchini December 2, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Some Italian people take their informations only from the TV. Bye!!!

M.E. Evans December 3, 2013 at 9:36 am

Hey Alessio! That’s probably true. I think most Americans get their information from T.V. too. In a while I’ll post The 11 Most Common Things That Americans Ask Me About Being Married To An Italian Man. 🙂

littlesarahbigworld December 3, 2013 at 6:14 am

DO Americans love McDonald’s, though? Or do we eat there out of a combination of budgetary and time constraints, always with a side order of shame? If anything, I feel that McDonald’s is most beloved outside the US, because it is still seen as a big deal. Whereas, to us, it’s old hat.

M.E. Evans December 3, 2013 at 9:38 am

Cousin, I do see more people at McDonalds in Italy than I do in Salt Lake. However, and this is embarrassing, half of them are American students. Seriously. They come from the US to eat McDonalds in Florence. I don’t eat fast food. I hate it. Neither do my friends or really anyone that I know, however, all of the chains are really successful so there is definitely a huge group that eats it. Probably people without mothers.

chinaelevatorstories December 3, 2013 at 9:42 am


#1 definitely resonates with me, do you also get those pitiful looks?

#6 too, Austrians aren’t poor, but we aren’t as rich as some other folks in Europe when you count in bought apartments and stuff – on the good side though, the Gini coefficient is quite balanced and certainly not as messed up as it is in China.

#7 Yes, we eat steak and sandwiches all of the time. If we don’t we eat bread all day long (well we kind of do that, but we add things like deli meats and cheese and vegetables to the mix and don’t just eat simple, plain bread). Because well, all Western food is the same (otherwise why would it be summarized in the words “Western food” if every country or region has its own cuisine?)

Expat Eye December 3, 2013 at 9:46 pm

So many stereotypes about the Americans! My students think you guys are all fat, rich and stupid – and hate your children 😉 I can’t convince them otherwise, though believe me I’ve tried! I think I’ll do a post on what the Latvians think of the rest of the world eventually. It will not be complimentary 😉 And now I really want some chicken nuggets dammit. McDonald’s here doesn’t do breakfast – how horrible is that?? Who wants a cheeseburger at 8am?? Latvians, that’s who. And we don’t have Burger King… 🙁

M.E. Evans December 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Ah! LOL. That might be a world-wide stereotype then. I guess in some ways we’ve earned it. LOL. I’d love to read a post on what Latvians think of the world. I love your blog. It’s fascinating. lol.

Expat Eye December 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

One too many LOLs – you Americans and your joyous, carefree lives. Try living like a Latvian, see how many LOLs you have then… (snarl) 😉

M.E. Evans December 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

HAHA! Actually, it’s weird that I even use them when I write. I think it’s a nervous thing because in real life I lack enthusiasm entirely. People usually think I’m mad. Weird, right?

Expat Eye December 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

LOL 😉 Totally!

M.E. Evans December 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm

LOL. 😉

Expat Eye December 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Sighs and shakes head in a Latvian way 😉

M.E. Evans December 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I can’t stop.

Pippa Pirrip December 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I got the “You don’t look American” line a lot, too, especially in Florence. (Though to be fair, Florence seemed overrun with rude tourists from North Jersey while I was there.) I figure it was a compliment, both on my weight & my manners, though I did have one person argue with me that I couldn’t be American- cognitive dissonance, maybe? It could have been my language, too. My Italian isn’t great, but it’s quite passable, I’ve never had a real communication problem, but every once in awhile after I’d say something, the person I was talking to would nod knowingly & say, “Ahh! You’re Spanish!” After awhile, I just started agreeing because it seemed to make people happier to guess “correctly”. The funny part is that I don’t speak Spanish, so I have no idea what is up with my accent/pronunciation!

M.E. Evans December 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

American tourists don’t help the negative stereotypes unfortunately. In fact, I can easily see how they’re formed so I’m never really bothered by it. I mostly just find it funny. I get the same thing. It’s assumed that I’m Italian until I speak. Then it’s assumed that I’m French or Spanish. It’s based off of how we look mixed with an obvious accent. They never place someone with dark hair who is slender as American. They’ll guess every country in Europe first. LOL. Although, I see Americans do the same with blonde Italians. I always hear, “He doesn’t look Italian because he’s blonde.” But the northerners are more fair and many are blonde. The world is funny, my friend. 🙂


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