Isn’t Italy Next To France? An International Student’s Account of the American Perspective on Europe, Column by Sofia Brustia

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As some of you may be aware, Europe is that piece of land that sits on the other side of the pond, and Italy is the boot bordered by the sea; sea–not Ocean, not the same thing. As incredible as it may sound , we do have electricity, tables and chairs, and our steering wheel is on the same side of the car as yours.


I moved from Italy to Billings a year and a half ago, and similar  to the majority of the international students on campus, I had some of the weirdest and funniest conversations of my life regarding what it is like back home. The following accounts come from actual conversations I have had with US Americans.


For starters, I want to assure you that Italy is a developed country, so we enjoy the same luxury and comfort as you do here. Internet, television, living-room furniture, and even cereal; maybe not as many varieties as you have or the same flavors, but we do eat cereal for breakfast.


We do also drive on the same side of the road as in the U.S., except for our British friends on the soccer and golf team, and yes, most of us still drive manual, or stick shift as Americans say, and actually enjoy it.


I know that compared to the USA, countries in Europe appear much, much smaller, but that does not mean that we all know each other, especially if I tell you that I am from Italy and you tell me that you have friends or family in Germany, Spain, or Greece. It is basically the same as me saying that I am from Montana and you have relatives in Kansas. Not close man, not close.


Some of you were shocked by the fact that our schools do not have sports teams. Unfortunately, this is really true, so if we want to compete in any kind of sport we have to do it outside of school which also means that we do not have excused absences, later due dates, or tests rescheduled. The only thing we can do is suck it up and find a way to make it work, or come to the U.S. where they actually try to help us become better athletes, and they even care if we struggle with school. 


Finally, just a tip, be careful when you ask us “How you doing?” We may think you are actually interested in what is going on with our lives and we might engage in a never-ending conversation on how we are struggling with our classes, how we are looking forward to Christmas break, or how disappointing it was going to Target and not finding the ice cream we were planning to eat and cry with the night before. Yet, I promise we are working at being better to hit you back with a “‘sup” or the casual “good” (even if things are not “good”) and keep going on with our day like we never ran into each other, or even know at all.

On this note, I just want to say that I absolutely love these kinds of conversations, so, if you have something weird or interesting that you are curious about, please come and talk to me. Just one exception. If you break spaghetti, for whatever reason you think gives you the authority to do it, or think that there is no difference between Italian and American pasta, keep your distance; or be ready for an intense conversation.

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