Since this is my first real international trip (I went to Canada one day about a year ago), of course I freaked out.
On a large scale, things are the same. There are still toilets, showers, restaurants, schools, roads, cars, and all of that everyday stuff.
But on a small scale, everything--EVERYTHING--is different.
Here are a few things that have confused, and occasionally, downright bewildered me:
1) Light switches. Instead of your typical up-and-down switch, these switches come in sets of 3, and usually there is a trick switch or two that doesn't move. And the switches are black.
This is the least confusing thing.
2) Bathrooms. There are mixed-gender bathrooms. When you walk in the bathroom, there is a men's stall, and a women's stall. Five-year-old me would describe it, "You can hear boys tinkle and poopy! Hee hee hee!" And then everyone shares sinks, mirrors, and hand-dryers. (But the stalls are more private. The doors and walls go from floor to ceiling, so there's no awkward view of other people's feet, thank goodness.)
3) Elevator buttons. I'm used to having two buttons: an up button and a down button, and you push the direction you want to go. But here, there's just a button that basically says in Italian, "take elevator." And then two little up and down lights beside the button (that look deceptively like buttons) turn on when the elevator is moving.
Of course, on my first day, I stood there and pushed on the up light repeatedly, thinking, "This doesn't feel very buttony."
Then a security guard came and rescued me.
4) Our washing machine. It's all in Italian, so that's a bit confusing, but it's also decrepit. I think it confuses me more with its decrepitness than its foreignness, because it's a pretty basic washing machine. From probably the 70s. (This really has nothing to do with Italian ways of life. I just hate our washing machine. One day it kept spinning my laundry on and off for three hours until I unplugged it and tugged the door open. I hate it.)
5) Automatic doors and gates. Sometimes, to go through an automatic door, you have to push a button before the door will open. I won't admit how many times I've stood in front of a door waiting for it to open. I also won't admit how long I've waited sometimes.
But today's bit of automatic door/gate confusion was the most embarrassing. I went to the grocery store and picked up a basket. There's a little gate that lets you into the grocery area. I thought if I just kept walking it would swing open and swing back into place. But instead, I smashed into it and it didn't budge an inch.
Right in front of a bunch of old ladies doing their shopping.
Then I backed up and looked around for a button to open it. There was no button. Then it opened automatically. I think one of the grocery store clerks controls the gate. I didn't look to see if that's true, because I'm tired of Italians looking at me like I'm completely stupid.
But I do love it here, and in my next post I will let you know how much, but for now, I thought I'd explain how confused I've been the last couple weeks. Culture shock is an expansive experience. But it's getting better. I'm having fewer moronic moments every day, and it feels nice.