Top 5 Things I Learned in Italy (and Spain)

By Johan Figueroa-Juarez

In my trip to Spain and Italy, I learned 5 important lessons that I could not have learned here in the U.S. Many times we forget how much we really have and what we take for granted. This is my list of 5 things I learned on my trip.

1. Water is taken for granted in the United States.

In my time in Italy, I noticed the lack of water I was consuming. Many times I noticed the dehydration of my body, but there was not much I could do to quench my thirst. Water was expensive and water fountains are not found in every building like in the U.S. To enter a public restroom, half of a euro (50 cents) had to be paid. Only the most populated areas had small water fountains.

2. The Youth’s privileges

In Spain, the legal drinking age is 16. I noticed how much less I saw teenagers around malls and plazas. I do not know where teenagers usually hang out but I saw mostly adults hanging around the streets. Whether this privilege of drinking is making an effect or not, the youth are seen less on the streets.

3. Crowded traffic.

On the streets of Italy, almost every car is a compact, hatchback car, or a small family SUV. Most streets have lines of cars parked along the road and some cars are so small they face the road with their rear facing the sidewalk. This means that the length of those cars are about the same as the width of a normal car. In crowded places like this, smaller is much more convenient.

4. Smoking

In Italy and Spain, smoking rates are higher than in the U.S. and it is noticeable when walking around in the city. Although the rates don’t show too much difference, the amount of litter from cigarette filters is considerably greater. Ironically, smoking companies put disturbing images on their packs of cigarettes as a warning. Some are pictures of real lungs after smoking, others are people coughing disturbingly, but in gasoline stations, all packs have pictures.

5. Space in Restaurants

Walking into a restaurant, the size on the outside may be deceiving. On the inside of every restaurant I visited, there was always a second floor and even third floors sometimes. The bathrooms were mostly in the basements and upper floors usually had more tables and space. Bathrooms also have two separate doors, one for men and women. In the U.S. we have this too, but the difference is that inside these doors there is only the toilet and the sinks are outside for both men and women.

All in all, valuable lessons can be learned when you see things in a different place. This trip was taught me more than just 5 things, but these 5 are some of the biggest differences from the U.S. and Italy/Spain

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