Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Pathway of Cultural Dissonance

by Nick Stjern
During my time in Italy, I have been observing a few of my own reactions regarding consideration. There have been certain instances where I feel that Italian citizens are not providing enough adequate space for us to pass one another when walking opposite directions. This is a seemingly minor issue, but it does cause some interesting internal feelings when someone is used to people clearly identifying the “lane” they are choosing to use. It has also caused me to consider that several Italians may be proud of their culture and that their pride may be preventing them from yielding any kind of ground in social situations. I am almost positive that this does not apply to every Italian, but it does make the locals walking the streets of Rome and Florence seem a bit inconsiderate.

I have also noticed Italians being unaware of their personal space. The custom where I am from is for an individual to turn and apologize if they were to bump into you when walking backwards. However, I have been in a few situations where an individual bumped a man holding an infant and didn’t even turn to acknowledge what he had bumped. Again, I’m sure this small sample does not speak for the entire population and that Italians are generally very nice and considerate when it comes to the people around them.

During these observations, I have remembered that I am in a new environment and that certain mannerisms may seem foreign to me at times. Just because I am used to people smiling at one another as they pass on the street does not mean that it is a custom honored everywhere on earth. It doesn’t mean the seemingly pleasant old man is angry with the foreigner because he doesn’t return a friendly nod. Instead, it reminds me that the world is full of different people, customs, and mannerisms. All of which should be appreciated.