Between Stress and Dolce Vita

Living in another country brings with it some new ways of living that you first need to get used to.

One of those things that confused me a bit at the beginning here in Rome is public transport. First, I had to get used to taking the metro, since underground trains are rare to non-existent in Switzerland. But there is another thing in the metro that was new to me: when you want to get off, you stand up at least one stop before yours and push towards the doors. Although I would have gotten off the next stop as well, people pushed me away to stand before me to get out the next stop. In the beginning I found this way of behaviour quite rude, but when I travelled more with the metro, I began to understand why they do this: during rush hour there are so many people in the metro that you have to fight your way to the door, way before you actually have to get off because otherwise you won’t make it through all the people at your stop. That is another thing I’m not used to: having so many people around you in public transport that you can barely move. 

If you want to avoid this overflow of people, there are other ways to travel in Rome. For example, there are a lot of buses. But this can also be complicated. First, you must find the bus stop since there are at least three stations with the same name near one aera. Once you found it, don’t be fooled by the timetables. The bus comes and goes whenever it is there. Possibly five minutes before the actual departure time, or even ten minutes after because there was traffic. So, you spend a lot of time waiting for the bus. And when it comes you need to wave, otherwise they just drive by. Once you get on the bus the ride will be fast because Italian bus drivers have no speed limits (in fact they do, they just don’t care). 
There are racers in Switzerland as well, that’s for sure, but I am used to a calmer way of traveling. In terms of speed, but also in terms of how people behave. They seem to be stressed all the time, trying to make their way as fast as possible with no regard for other passengers. I don’t want to call them disrespectful, because it’s their way that they are used to, and not because of bad behaviour. 

The same thing goes for the bus: when everyone knows that the bus might leave five minutes earlier or later, you just go there earlier. But if you are used to punctuality, like I am, you might find yourself in a situation that is difficult to deal with. I still haven’t gotten used to it, because this experience has shown me once again that I am a person who likes punctuality. Something that you will hardly find in Italy.

For example, if you want to meet with friends, they are sure to be 20-30 minutes late. Not because they want to offend you but simply because they are used to it. The same goes for lectures at the university. Sometimes they start five minutes late, sometimes fifteen. That’s more the way of life I’m used to in Italy. The “dolce vita,” where there’s no stress and you just go with the flow. I haven’t really understood this contrast between the stressful everyday life and the relaxed way of seeing certain things, but I think when I spend some more time living in Italy, I will get used to it.

Julia Weber

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