Living with an Italian family….while studying abroad

I saw the following on the Sant’Anna Institutes’ web page.  It brought back memories from my semester abroad in Florence,  Italy…….more for all the missed opportunities since I lived with a very formal family.     
Perhaps there is an opportunity for adults to stay with a family?

Italian Family Customs when studying abroad:

The most significant cultural differences that you will encounter will be with meals. Meals tend to be more formal and are an important family bonding time that should not be rushed.

· Italian breakfast tend to be more basic than Americans are used to, consisting of tea/coffee with a few biscuits or toast.

Photo by Sheila Ford

· Either lunch or dinner will be large meal usually consisting of a ‘primo piatto’ of pasta/rice/soup and a ‘secondo piatto’ of protein (meat or fish) with a side dish of vegetables, followed by fruit.

· You will observe specific ideas about which foods and drinks are suitable for which times of day; for example, Italians drink cappuccinos in the morning and not the afternoon. They pair beer with pizza and water or wine with other afternoon and evening meals.

· Large family meals are organized for national holidays.
· Italian mothers will treat you as their own children and will be very concerned with you eating enough food when you will probably feel very full! The best thing to say is: ‘Grazie, mi piace tanto ma non posso mangiare più, sono sazio(a)!’ (Thank you, I like the food very much but I cannot eat anymore, I am full!)

A few other items to keep in mind:

· Italians have very close family bonds and it is polite to display enthusiasm when greeting another person by touching, hugging or kissing them hello on the cheek.

· Italians tend to be more conscious about energy consumption and do not use as much electricity as you may be accustomed to. Be sure to turn off the light when you leave a room. Also, be conscious of your water usage when showering.

· Try to clearly communicate meal times and shower times with your family.
· Show extra care with your keys to the apartment and do not invite anyone to visit without prior permission.
· Help out with daily household tasks such as washing the dishes
· Ask permission to use the telephone and pay adequately for your calls (local calls typically cost money).
· For long distance, use phone cards or Skype.
· Be receptive to activities planned by your host family. Be flexible, try to fit in with the family’s routine
· Ask permission, don’t just help yourself to food in the refrigerator.
· Establish guidelines for late night outings

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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