Cultural differences between the Netherlands and Italy

Yes, this was it. My adventure in Italy. My study abroad in Florence. I dreamed about this for years. And now, is the time to look back at everything. Was it what I expected together with the study? Was I shocked by the cultural differences? How was this period compared to England and Chile? You will read it all!

Studying in Italy

I thought maybe good to start off with the reason why I went to Florence in the first place; to study. At the beginning of my Florence adventure, I wrote a blog about; Study as an exchange student in Florence, Italy. There you can read about my first weeks and the odd things that had already happened.

From the middle of November, student life really began. I followed five topics and since I never really paid attention during the lectures because most of them were too difficult and I was distracted by all the nice things we were doing besides university, I had to start from the beginning and needed to teach myself all the materials. I was actually very motivated and ready to do something. So, it all started. Five days a week we were in the library, most of the time, from nine in the morning to seven in the afternoon. To be there with everybody was quite fun, too. We always had a coffee break at eleven and then lunch break at two.

Another important thing to mention is of courseeeee the amount of intake of coffee. Well, I have never been a huge coffee lover, but I knew to be able to integrate a little I should at least try to drink cappucino. So, I started drinking it a few months before I went to Florence and apparently I liked it. So, every morning and afternoons, all coffee shops and bakeries are full, literally full! Espresso’s are the most famous one, but that one I still cannot drink. Far too strong. 🙂

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So, after a month of studying, my first exam was on Friday the 13th of December and the last one was the 17th. Most of those nights I only slept five to six hours in order to make sure that I was the best prepared. Because, although, I did not do something in the first two months, I am dedicated enough to change my mentality and work hard.

First of all, I would like to say that I passed all my exams at one time, with good grades. But now, I would like to tell you some other very odd things about how the exams were taken at UNIFI. Because, although, I passed all my exams and I am very happy about that, did not it all go in a fairway. During several exams, professors gave us the answers, people were able to use their phones and it was even at one exam we were able to talk with each other and discussed the whole exam (I got a 30/30 there… Not really a surprise ha-ha). However, what surprised me the most is that those professors did not even care and let us communicate. Whereas, on the other hand, other professors were super strict. In the end, I passed everything, studied very hard, and am very proud of myself.

General differences

To be honest, was I surprised by the number of cultural differences. Some were annoying, others were funny. Throughout the four months, I wrote everything down. So, below a long list of the things that caught my eyes. I do want to say that this is all from my experience and perspective. By that, I mean that people may not agree which is okay of course and it is not that it would count for all citizens in Florence or Italy. Let’s start!

  • When cars are waiting in front of the traffic light and an ambulance is coming, they don’t drive through “red” to let the ambulance pass. They wait until the “green” light and then they make space for the ambulance to pass them. (Yes, this is the most annoying one. I thought we can better start with it.)
  • The pavements in Florence are pretty small. In the beginning, I felt very offended when people were the whole time bumping into me. I would stop, and let the other person pass, but in Florence, they just go both at the same time and do not mind that other people are in their personal space.
  • The people are extremely friendly and helpful.
  • All people do care very much about their looks. For example, never saw a woman leaving the gym without having showered and wearing make-up.
  • Drivers don’t stop for you when you want to cross the street and use the “zebra path”. It even happened to me, that the drivers got mad at me because I thought that I had “priority” with crossing the street. So, be careful. Don’t expect that they will stop for you because they won’t.
  • Life is outside your door.
  • You always have to take your receipt with you after buying something. From just one coffee to clothes, bus ticket, anything. There is this law that the police can ask for your receipt. If you don’t have it, the shop where you bought the product and you will both get a fine. In the beginning, especially when we bought coffee’s for only 1,50 we never took the receipts. The people got annoyed and sometimes we received the receipt boldly in our hands, and after we asked why they found it so important, we were like; “ahh okay, that’s why ha-ha”.
  • Italians like to wear glasses, even when the sun is not shining. They have their right though. They shine themselves ha-ha.
  • I have never seen so much rain in my life. We had weeks of rain, 24/7, especially in November. It was insane. Also lots of thunderstorms during the day, something that I never experienced in the Netherlands.
  • December is more of an “I am on winter sport” month. It is chilly, 13 degrees, the sun was always shining and most of the time a beautiful blue sky. I loved it!
  • Italians like to race on the street.
  • You can only get a taxi at three different fixed places around the city. This is to ensure safety for passengers. It is possible though to call a taxi and get picked up from your place. Calling a taxi from the street is a real no go!
  • People use plastic bags for everything and pretend like there is nothing wrong with that.
  • The green traffic light for pedestrians is very short, whereas, the orange one is super long.
  • The people tend to walk on the left side of the pavement. Hello, we are not in England, right?
  • The food, this won’t come as a surprise, is absolutely the best of the best. I have tried many restaurants, lunchrooms, ice creams, everything, and none of all, was able to disappoint me. I miss it most of everything.
  • Oh yeah the last one, besides bumping into each other on the street, do they also like to bump each other’s cars, especially while parking. Most Italians don’t tend to care about ant scratches on their car.

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