I learned another word today– “Americana.”
I can’t say that I am particularly pleased with the title, but that’s who I am. My fellow travelers, students, and people from home; let me tell you this much: we live up to our name.
I know that I am about to speak about a country that is not mine. More specifically, a country I have only been in for two and a half days. Italy, so far I have feasted on the best pizza and gelato I have ever had in my life, I will have my first pasta dish in a couple hours. I absolutely love so many of the things you have offered me.
I know Rome is a large city, one with visitors from all over the globe. I have come here to get a new dose of culture, and I think I am getting a glimpse of it.
As an American, I came to Italy to escape. To experience food and pleasure; to participate in a culture that values people over profit. I have been so lucky to find Italian restaurants and business that offer me just that!
That being said, I am also both worried and concerned about my own countries presence here.
I find it odd that I see a McDonalds every five blocks. I find it strange that when I get coffee (real coffee – a shot of espresso) the baristas have to make sure that I do not, in fact, want to get an American coffee (brown water). Even more interesting, there is a restaurant that delivers pizza to my apartment. What’s more, you can even take food home in doggy bags at many businesses (something which I have read is not a very Italian thing to do). You can also get some foods to go. In the break period between 2pm and 4pm, many stores stay open. Most of the people here speak English (along with many other languages).There are bars which sell alcohol without also selling food, there are bars advertise drinking in excess not moderation.
These distinctly American fast pace and fast food style activities and businesses pop up everywhere I go. It seems that the conquerors of old are now seeing American globalization in action. A more discrete form of colonialism, but colonialism none-the-less.
Though I see my country here, I also see Italy. I see its resist to an invasive American presence. I see locals shopping in local stores (the best stores). I see more people going for pizza than for Subway.
Before I sign off, I just want to say: I will be here for the next four months. I already see how much my presence, and my countries presence has influenced Italy’s world. I promise I will reduce my impact, I promise to seek out the places where I can actually leave my country and experience a new one. I promise to buy local. I promise I will not eat my pizza to go, or order it delivered. I promise I will try to learn the language as quickly as possible. Most of all, I promise I will leave.
Here’s a short post about imperialism in Italy from an Italian perspective: http://www.topics-mag.com/globalization/culture-italy.htm