a personal style blog by Lauren Pfieffer

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Will Run to You.

White Dress: Delia's.
Green Blouse: Forever21.
Crystal Necklace: Thrifted.
Tan Sandals: TJMaxx.

Hello everyone

Parts of living in a foreign country are definitely proving to be difficult even two weeks in. I stressed and worried before the trip what these issues could be and the possible solutions I could come up to fix these made up in my mind scenarios. The truth is...you truly can't prepare for the difficulties and challenges that arise. You just have to take them as you go.

One thing I've found very difficult in dealing with while here is being an American. You all are thinking, "well, DUH, Lauren..., you are an American living in Italy, of course it's going to be hard." But it's hard in ways I didn't expect I guess. I've found, from my personal experiences here in Florence that Italians do not like Americans and have unfortunately been very rude, mean, and impatient with me. In no way am I generalizing that all Italians are this way AT ALL and I don't want any Italian readers taking offense to me saying that you are rude, because that's certainly not true. Just like I am not the rude, haughty, drunk American that Italians sometimes make me out to be. These are just impressions I have gotten from experiences I've had with Italians, but it does not mean you all are like that! There have, of course, been Italians who are very friendly and warm, welcoming, like the stereotype I heard before coming here. But a majority of the time, unfortunately, I am slighted once they find out I am American because they have these notions on what I am like because of previous Americans they have interacted with or what they see in the media. Not only Italians, but I find that Europeans as a whole, from a few different experiences, don't like Americans and tend to treat me poorly, unfortunately.

I can't blame them really though. I see how some American students from all sorts of colleges studying here act and it makes me embarrassed to be an American sometimes. I see why there is such this disapproval of us in their nation because Americans can be so disrespectful and act entitled. But I don't feel like that's a reason to generalize us all and become impatient and mean with me just because I can't speak the language fluently. I'm trying, I'm putting effort in...but it gets tiring and very discouraging day in and day out being spoken harshly to, looked at disapprovingly, or plain out just being treated unfairly.

It does put a lot in perspective for me though. In the US you don't run into non English speaking people too often, but in Aero I have a lot of Latinos come in to buy clothing and they usually speak entirely Spanish. There have been times I have been frustrated that these people didn't speak English and therefore, I couldn't help them. I know more than once I've thought, admittedly, "why didn't they learn English before they came? Why aren't they learning it now?" I've never treated them BADLY because they couldn't speak English, but it certainly frustrated me and I couldn't empathize with them. With this study abroad experience though, now I certainly can. I realize how hard these people are trying...how embarrassing and frustrating it must be to not be able to communicate simple things like "how much is this? I want to try this on?" And I'm sure most sales associates in general aren't usually as nice about it as I am, and I know I have been frustrated at times.

Humans are humans. Whether we are American. Italian. Mexican. We all have feelings, we all are just trying to live in this world and do the best we can. It makes me sad that we all can't get along better...be a little more patient, a little more loving. Have a smile go a little further, a little more patience, a lot more respect for others. It's been a hard learning experience to be looked down upon because of my nationality because it's never happened to me and in a way, I'm glad it has happened because it's really allowed me to open my eyes up to seeing how to better treat others and serve Him to the best of my ability through my actions and words. x

With much love, Lauren.


Unknown said...

You are absolutely beautiful! Inside and out.

Kay // Fashionably Kay

Unknown said...

That's awful that some of them are generalizing you just because of your nationality! I hope it gets better for you!

Anonymous said...

Hello Lauren,
first, I´m sorry for my bad english :-)
You know, you are right that lot of people from Europe don´t like Americans....I am from Slovakia and some people here maybe don´t like Americans because of american politics and so on...I feel you, but don´t worry, there are so many people who know that everywhere in the world are bad and good people too... I am european and I really like so much you and your blog and I am with you in Italy through your blog :-) I know you are really so nice person and i know lot of americans are like that too.. To be from Slovakia is not easy sometimes too :-) Slovakia is a little and poor country.... I could talk about it, but don´t want to make this comment so long :-) Just want to tell you, Lauren, don´t worry, here in Europe are so many people who love other people and love americans too :-)

Lauren said...

Hey Lily!
Thank you so much for the encouragement! It is definitely hard to face adversity, no matter what country you're in, but the positive thing from it is that you learn so much and learn to respect different cultures and people :)

Charmaine said...

I found that people were extremely rude to me when I lived in England when people first thought I was American. There is definitely a culture of anti-Americanism in many parts of Europe. Aside from many of the stereotypes you were mentioning, when I lived in the UK Bush was still president and most Europeans I encountered back then hated Republicans and "Americanism" more so than Americans themselves. There's definitely pride taken in many European nations over social welfare, public healthcare, cheap university etc. Which I always found extremely condescending, as many Americans of course want socialize health care and better social amenities, despite what European media likes to spin. Hence why Obama won with such a landslide in his first election! Stereotyping is sad as it leads to shortsightedness; what a barrier to creating real connections with other people. Just keep shining it on and proving them wrong! I have many American friends who are educated, progressive, aware, polite, and totally the opposite of all those negative stereotypes you guys always seem to get.


Scribbles and Tea said...

It just isn't true that Italians don't like Americans. Or that they are rude people. I know you weren't generalizing ALL of Italy, but I've honestly never heard anyone say that. :P I'm saying all this with a smile, of course. Don't want to offend you! Its just that my mom was born there, and her entire family lives there. . .so I know that they are a warm, friendly, inviting culture. Of course there are rude people wherever you go. . .but then, people are people. ;) Which, since we're talking about Europe, my cousin from France said its also a myth that French people dislike Americans.

Unknown said...

Italian people were rude to us when we were in Rome a couple years back so I understand. They just didn't like any Americans at all. I was extremely frustrated being constantly treated badly. I hope you start running into nicer people soon and that things start to get easier for you. At least you look super adorable over there! I love the green top you layered under this white dress.

Jamie | PetitePanoply.com

Unknown said...

Firstly, I love your dress! ... I was just watching a short video about a young woman named Cameron, from the middle of the US, who saved her money and went as a short-term missionary to Malawi - how she had to learn a new culture, as well as a new language ... and perhaps that is the key here for you, my dear friend: to see yourself as a missionary, with your "glad and sincere heart", as it was written about the Apostles.

Know that I am holding you in my good thoughts & prayers +

Kezzie said...

I guess xenophobia is present in most countries, we fear the unknown but it doesn't make it any less hurtful when you are treated like a stereotype.
In Bali, small children would point at me and say 'Turis' or 'Tamu' to their parents or friends like I was a zoo exhibit. I hated it, but accepted that where I lived, I stood out. Still, rudeness is a different matter. I read a post by blogger MK today, that I has scriptures and thoughts really relevant to this. I'll find her link and leave it for you to look at, really worth a look. X

Kezzie said...


And sorry, Tamu means Visitor/foreigner and you can guess what the other means. Stay safe, young Lauren. X

Eccentric Owl said...

Aw, I'm sorry you've been dealing with people not giving you the benefit of the doubt as a lovely American! I have never really thought about that aspect of living in a foreign country, although I would completely understand knowing how college students tend to act. I hope things get better for you!

I just found your blog via Modcloth's Style Gallery. You are such a gorgeous girl, and I LOVE your style!

OrigamiGirl said...

I'd agree that it's true there is a lot of anti-American feeling in Europe, but there are a lot of political reasons for it. It's not exactly xenophobia (it totally changes when people say they're Canadian). Although I wouldn't really agree with Charmaine about British people rude heheh (none of us like that our nationality is described that way, but turns out we all can be), I do agree that it's not actually a dislike of Americans, it's really of American politics and its influence on the rest of the world. There's a lot of history to it. The people who are being rude to you might be stereotyping, or they might have had a bad experience with someone in the past. I'd say give them the benefit of the doubt, as well as wanting them to give you another look beyond being American. A first look isn't enough, and sometimes you can become close friends with people you couldn't stand at first. I think you'll have a great time. I know it's hard and weird at first, but give the people time as well as the place and I bet you'll make awesome friends.

Sanjana Pandey said...

Hey Lauren! I am an Indian and I really was moved by this post of yours. You are a very beautiful person. That beauty of your heart- always keep it alive in you. All the very best on this new journey of yours and keep writing! I really admire your confidence and your beautiful thoughts.
Best wishes!

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