First Post from Italy!

My name is Casey and I am writing from Torino, Italy!  I am traveling with a group through the University of Nevada, but the program is called USAC (University Study Abroad Consortium.)  There are about fifty students studying in Torino with me, and almost 95% of them are from California.  Suddenly, being from Philadelphia makes me interesting and exotic, who knew?
            Torino is Italy’s fourth largest city.  There is a population of almost one million people.  It is located in the northwest between the French border and Milan, so often the Alps are visible.  This city is very authentic in that it is filled with families and locals.  Almost nobody here speaks any English!  They are also not accustomed to foreigners, so the group of us fifty Americans all stick out like carrots in a gumball machine.
            Being foreign in a place like Torino isn’t easy.  Classes have not started yet, so the group has spent the majority of our time exploring the area.  It is very different from home in that technology is not the main focal point of the day.  Our apartments do not have any Internet access.  In fact, we have to be at school to get online which makes posting to the blog a tad difficult, but it also slows me down in a good way.  Already being away from one major form of technology, I made the decision not to get a European cell phone.  I figure, people used to meet up with one another before the invention of the cell phone, why should today’s day and age be any different?  Of course I have a phone that can make international calls in case of emergency, but for the most part I am taking myself out of my Americanized mindset and into that of Italy.
            Additionally, I was introduced to the idea of “culture shock”.  I am currently immersed in a culture I knew little about and my “American mannerisms” are easily detectable.  This is one of the major differences between studying abroad, and traveling abroad.  I am living in the city of Torino for just over a month.  They already know me in some of the coffee and gelato shops, and I can’t get away with being American forever, so there are certain things one needs to know.  
This is a list of important things I’ve learned since I’ve arrived:
  1. Cappucino is only consumed prior to 11:00 am and is considered rude to drink after this time because the milk is very heavy and shouldn’t come before a meal.
  2. Money is never exchanged from hand-to-hand.  Instead, euros are placed either on the countertop or table for the servers to pick up on their own.
  3. Tipping is also considered rude as Italians pride themselves on their work and are insulted when you try to give money for it.
  4. There is no Italian word for ‘design’.  Even though Italy is chock full of it.
  5. Torino is the birthplace of tic tacs and nutella!
This was my very first machiatto in Italy!  Sooo delicious.  And below is the caffe I got it at 😀
This is the view of Torino from on top of the Lingotto mall (which was once the home of Fiat, the car company.)
More is on the way.
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