Interesting Italian Tidbits

VeniceI took a tiramisu class last weekend that blended some Italian language lessons and culture.  Our teacher, Fabiana, has Italian in her blood and has spent a descent amount of time in Italy.  She shared some of her experiences with us, and there were two that blew my mind.

I am so used to how our economy works, so learning about how other countries handle their money sometimes surprises me.  Did you know that before the current president in Italy, most people followed the “black market.”  Most people paid with cash and didn’t use receipts.  Fabiana said the people that paid the government taxes were considered to be “fools.”  So to avoid keeping a record, people paid in cash.  She said you may go to the dentist and pay $200 with cash, but $400 if you asked for a receipt.  The inflation was to cover the outrageous taxes that would be charged if there was documentation.  You mean it is an option to not pay taxes?  Not anymore…

Fabiana studied in Rome and shared how the university works in Italy.  First of all, no one really goes to class.  Professors typically don’t show up either since students don’t attend classes.  So how do Italians earn a degree?  They pass exams.  She claimed that students in Italy rarely finish in four years because they are offered wonderful scholarships that essentially pay them to go to school.  When you feel like you are ready, you take the exams, and it sounds like most people pass.  Exams look a bit different than here in the states.  Rather than paper and pencil like we are used to, they are questioned by a panel in a public hearing.  She says the panel may ask one question, or every detail about the content the students should know.  What?  How does this actually work?  I can’t imagine all degrees work like this.

Have you heard anything like this about the Italian culture?  I want to trust her, but it is so hard to imagine.  Have you learned any interesting tidbits about other cultures that shook your understanding?  Please share!

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Heyjude says:

    Ah! I think Italy is a law unto itself. The northerners distrust the southerners and the southerners have a completely different way of life.

  2. Linda says:

    Beautiful photos of Italy. I read that you should not smile at French people you meet on the street. They will think you are up to something. Very different in the U.S.

    1. I have definitely followed this one after spending a week in Paris. I have to admit that I see a difference in Parisians versus the French. It is similar to the differences of a New Yorker vs. someone else from New York State.

  3. I know a lot of countries judge students by panel, rather than exam. My Russian lecturer at university thought the idea of testing history through writing an essay was moronic and pointless – in Russia you would be engaged in a debate and then marked accordingly.

    1. It makes me wonder what has caused the US to be so test dependent (paper and pencil tests) rather than approaching learning in different ways. Thanks for sharing your experience. My horizons have been broadened :).

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