In order to accomplish the task I decided to interview my friend from Italy who arrived to the USA after having won a language competition to live and study here and whom I recently visited in Italy. So, below you may see some differences and similarities of American and Italian culture. First of all he decided to rent a car since it was more convenient than a train or other transportation vehicle. He noted that there are almost no pedestrians in the streets as everybody drives a car.
Also, he stated that American people take care of their life as no other culture in the world because they have a list of emergency calls in every household and therefore are rightfully scared to death of Italian drivers. The system of driving in Italy is almost beyond American understanding. The basic difference is that Americans like lanes and pretty much expect everybody to stay in one. Italy does not work like this at all.
Instead they use a surprisingly tolerant system of swerving, tail gating, and other go-as-you-please driving etiquette that Americans would be driven to homicidal road rage by if it happened in the hometown. Traveling through Italy American person will never see anyone irritated or aggressive while driving. Italians just casually drive like maniacs and know that everyone else is too. Along the way, they adore chatting and laughing with each other. As a huge generalization Italians are very attractive people.
It felt like people are living in an Armani commercial. But as he says they smoke everywhere, all the time. As expected, he liked American food everywhere: in restaurants, in coffee shops, etc. although he was more accustomed to have a dessert and a thimble of coffee. It was quite a surprise for him to reveal that dinners last an hour or an hour and a half at most while in Italy they go on for hours. Time in general moves differently in the USA, as he says. In the USA days start earlier than according to the Italian standards.
In Italy the whole country shuts down from one o’clock to three or four o’clock every afternoon. There is also a great difference in architecture of these two cultures. Italy is full of narrow streets, plazas and buildings. He says if you want to live in an apartment that is several hundred years old and is probably built on top of even older building you can do it. In the USA it is hard to find something older than about 200 years old. In my essay I would like to refer to the idea of the context of situation (Kramsch 25) that includes three major parts:
o The field of discourse o The tenor of discourse o The mode of discourse The field of discourse covers the situation of visiting another country and penetrating into its culture. The tenor implies the participants, while the mode includes the role of the language in this situation. Therefore, it would be appropriate to note that Italian tradition of driving may serve as a good example of the context of situation. First of all, it involves such important factors as high level of emotionality, hot weather, narrow streets, and their somewhat confusing location.
As the tenor of discourse investigates the members of the situation, it is necessary to mention here the importance of the origin of the participants. As we may see from the interview and from my own experience Italians and Americans drive in completely different way and both of them believe that their driving tradition is the best and most convenient. In conclusion, I may add that cultural diversity implies different traditions that require understanding, open-mindness, and tolerance. References Kramsch, Claire. (2003). Language and Culture (4th edition). New York: Oxford University Press.