You would think that being an Italo-Australian would be helpful when in Italy, correct? In some cases, yes. In others, it caused a bit of confusion …
What am I?
You find yourself seriously questioning your identity – at home in Australia, you are known as “The Italian” among your friends, but in Italy, you will forever be marginalised as “The Australian”. So what are you?!?
This stands for family as well – I was the ‘Australian’ cousin despite studying and living in Italy and speaking fluent Italian.
Add to this a dual citizenship and two passports and try to explain it to the Italian students – then you get the following, infuriating reaction: “Oh okay, you’re legally Italian, but you aren’t actually a proper Italian.”
Coffee consumption – expectation versus reality
I honestly spooked some of the Italians in college by saying that I normally drink 3-4 espressi in a day (my max has now risen to 5, btw). Their maximum was one.
This may or may not have to do with the fact that I was staying in the north, but still, I think our expectations of Italian coffee intake are a little different from the reality!
I cooked eggs a few times for breakfast, and was asked multiple times, “Why are you having lunch at 10am?”
When I explained that I was in the process of producing an eggy masterpiece as my first meal of the day, the reaction was one of horror.
Likewise, I once remarked upon the nice snack of chocolate biscuits and milk that my collegemates were eating at 11:30am – turns out that it was in fact their breakfast!
Travelling with two passports
When travelling around Italy, I used my Italian passport to make the process easier. The looks of confusion when people heard me speaking English in my Australian accent!
Anna, my friend from Denmark, and I went on a girls’ trip to Venice and caused grand confusion in the hostel when we both spoke to the manager in perfect English and then presented our Danish and Italian passports. Then we had to explain that we were studying in Italy and had met in college!
After an extended period in any country, you develop an attachment to the place, the people and the culture. When you are also a citizen of that country, speak the language, vote in the elections and have family there, the attachment is a little more intense. Coming home after nearly six months in Europe, I felt that I was leaving behind a place which had wedged itself ever the more firmly into my heart. This time, I wasn’t leaving behind only my family, but also friends, university, college, and a world of amazing experiences which impacted my perception of the world. Setting foot on that plane bound for Sydney, I was leaving half my heart behind and now I have this perpetual, weird sense of detachment whereby some part of me will always be stuck in Australia and in Italy.