I was walking to a coffee shop with friends the other day when a large tourist group came around the corner of a fountain. We laughed as we tried to guess where they were from before they got close enough to where we could hear what language they were speaking. “British,” I said. “No, I’d say French,” another friend said. “Definitely German,” came a third voice. And finally we heard the tour guide speak Italian.
It’s one conclusion I’ve come to this semester: all old people, that have enough money to take guided tours through Europe, look the EXACT same. They dress the same, use the same bags and accessories, interact the same with their spouses the same and have this air about them that just says, “I’m a old person with enough money to travel Europe.”
It’s just funny because this is not true of any other age group in Europe.
My goal here, this semester is for someone to think I’m NOT American. The best compliment I’ve gotten this far is: oh, I thought you were from Germany. There is this status of UGG-boot wearing, BBM-ing (Blackberry messaging, like texting), Northface black fleece that just screams American, and I’ve tried as hard as I can to steer clear of this.
So, sometimes I am mistaken for a Brit or German. My roommate Lyndsay, is commonly taken for an Italian. And the joy this brings us is both is incredibly dumb, but at the same time, very gratifying.
Most times this is just based on dress, and possibly our lack of Spanish accents. For the most part young adults act the same here as they do in the US.
But my favorite American/European difference is the baby to toddler age group. Often times I feel like the children here are just an extension of a rich mother’s fashion accessory. The babies ride in vintage, bassinet strollers that can run up to $1000 while pushed by their stiletto heal wearing mother down cobblestone streets.
Once the children are able to walk, they too inherit an Upper East Side-like style. My favorite child thus far has been a very beautiful (every child here is beautiful) little girl walking down the street in shiny black boots, dark grey tights, a pink tank top and a black high waist-ed skirt.
Toddlers in the US don’t even have waists, let alone skirts that accentuate the waist.
It’s bad enough when I look at all the teenagers here and think, “Oh, I wish I could pull that off, but it’d never look good on me.” But that day I realized, yes, the toddlers here even have more fashion sense than I do.
Sometimes I feel underdressed in our apartment when I’m wearing basketball shorts and a sweatshirt. My house mom here has made remarks as to staying skinny and keeping my skin clear, over dinner.
It’s just common for people here to take appearance very seriously, and that’s taken a little bit of getting used to.
But until I get fully used to it I’m sure I’ll get a few more appearance tips from Chencha.
And some toddlers.