Visitor from another country

Okay, I need to rant.

When my wife lived in Italy some years ago, she made a very good friend. This friend has come to visit us for a few months. She’s in her mid 20s, and so are we (+ a few years), so we thought it would be a lot of fun, but there are actually some weird culture clashes going on. Here’s what I’ve noticed.

  1. Food. This girl drinks milk by the gallon. Do Italians drink a lot of milk? It’s amazing how much she enjoys eating cereal with a ton of milk. We are now going through 2-3 gallons a week. She insists that she has to eat steak twice a week or she gets dark circles under her eyes. She asks us to make Chinese food for her, then calls her mom in Italy to ask for some recipes.

  2. I think we dress really conservatively compared to the average Italian. My wife was going to take our guest to the store to pick up some groceries, and she put on this dress that is like, really loose. I mean, she’s about 4’ 8" tall, and from my vantage point there was nothing that could not be seen, if you catch my drift. So my wife explained that the dress was probably going to attract some unwanted attention, and she changed into some jeans and a T-shirt, acting a bit put off by it all.

  3. I think she thinks Americans are complete morons. Last night we were watching CSI:Miami (her choice; I personally think the show runs a distand second to, say, Chuck Norris infomercials), and she said that when they watch it in Italy, everyone wonders aloud why, when Americans walk into a dark room, they turn on flashlights instead of just switching on a lamp or something. Americans!? WTF? Do they not understand that (American TV != America)? Plus, when she talks about her schooling in Italy, she inevitably slips something in about how crappy American universities are. Forgive me for forgetting about the elite reputation of Italian schools. (?)

  4. Every time we make something to eat, she takes a photo of it, stares at us while we eat it, giggles, and emails the photos to her friends after the meal. I mean, come on, salad? Potatoes? How rare can this stuff possibly be? I am thinking of installing a packet sniffer just to see what she’s writing about it (not really, but…).

  5. My wife doesn’t think George Bush is a terrorist. I will just say that to get it out of the way. So this has further alienated our houseguest, who is visibly repulsed that anyone could possibly feel that way. I personally feel that if you can’t like someone’s politics, you should find other things to like about them.

Anyway, I think this stuff is really annoying to my wife and I because we’ve both spent a lot of time overseas (I lived in asia for years), and we both did our best to fit in with the local cultures, hide our cameras, not say dumb stuff, etc. Every night before I go to bed, I contemplate knocking on our visitor’s door and telling her to knock off the dumb tourist act.

Arrgh. Now I feel dumb for writing all of this but I just had to get it out of the way.

Italians, I apologize, I know you’re not all this annoying.

Hmm… Sounds like she’s crazy? I would never take a picture of foriegn food and then email it, thats just weird. I dont know about the milk thing. I think thats just disrespectful. And the meat thing too.

This opinion is very widespread here in Europe. I think it’s because of certain unpopular American policies - people need to express their discontenton and it’s very easy to simply emphasise the originally jokingly created stupid American stereotype.

I was in Italy in summer 2003, I love Italy now. She does sound a bit strange, though. The milk thing isn’t all that strange, we use a huge amount too.

Well, now there is freaking Italian spyware all over our guest computer. I also noticed that the software firewall had been shut down. How convenient!

What do I do? What would you do?

This just gets better and better. </sarcasm>

I would ask myself why there is some stranger living in my house. :o Then I’d show said stranger where the front door is.

I’d be wondering why your wife is letting a younger woman into your house. Assuming she’s hot (she apparently thinks she’s got something to show off…or is this more of her (European?) arrogance) and being a man (knowing the wandering eyes+minds thereof) I really wouldn’t want to put such temptation-even if it’s only with the eyes or mind-in my husband’s path.

Tell your friend that you and your wife need a night alone ( :wink: ) and talk with your wife about this friend.

Funny how intolerant some europeans are of some of america’s “intolerance”… :wink:

My understanding is that using the flashlights is a way of directing your attention to the specific area the beam is on. It helps block out everything else but the one spot to help concentrate your focus better. I would imagine it would also help in that the flashlight would be coming from a different angle than the main room light, so some things that wouldn’t normally be seen might cast more pronounced shadows when lit from a low angle.

Don’t know if they’ve ever explained it on the show. I’ve caught about 30 minutes of it once or twice when I left the TV running in the background. I feel the same way about it as you.

I don’t know if they do it on the show, but there are also different lights (like blacklights) that illuminate things that aren’t seen in visible light.

I’d say its okay to cut off computer privileges, citing specific violations of house rules. (Firewall software doesn’t shut itself off… password protecion time!) When she’s in your house, she’s to live by your rules. As to cultural differences, and personal attitudes, these are always open to discussion on a friendship level. Talk with her about them. (Just like you did with the dress episode… being careful to give valid cultural reasons for your case.)

I’m an American (MK) who grew up in Kenya. Since moving back here we’ve had Kenyans come to the States and visit us upon occasion. One of the common cultural differences is that of personal hygene. Your average African doesn’t shower/bathe in the same way as your average American might. (This is perfectly okay and understandable - the reasons are real and often unavoidable… more below.) There was one occasion when a young man was staying with us and we noticed this difference in a rather aromatically significant way. It eventually came to the point of discussing it with him and he was willing, of his own volition, to do his best to “fit in” in this area.

For Americans, these cultural differences can be hard to discuss in a frank manner, because we tend to think that it might be offensive to a foreigner (as it probably would be to an American.) However, for the most part, this is not the case. The other side of the coin is to not “force” your cultural norms on the visitor - merely bring it to their attention and let them decide on their response. If they choose not to change, then you must respect that and live with it. Its sometimes hard, but it is important to remember that their cultural norms are just as legitimate as ours. Whether it is “polite” to comply during a visit or not (“When in Rome…”) is a matter of debate.

Sounds like a classic case of chronic PC. Talking about her behind her back (on the internet no less) is about as bad as what she’s doing. Get your Red Forman’s on and deal with her. Sounds like all she’s short of is a father figure. And while you’re about it tell her we use flashlights because we can afford the batteries.


This is perfectly understandable since every TV show is an accurate documentary of American life.
Just keep a few things in perspective:
Jerry Lewis is a comedy genius to the French
Michael Jackson is still a popular performer in Japan
American universities are filled with foreign students

Ha ha lol. These replies are great. I don’t think it’s that I enjoy talking behind her back; rather, I just need other people around, like a support group or something, after all I’m the only guy in the house :slight_smile:

But I work from home, so I need to be here during the day right now. I only see her when my wife comes home for lunch and we all eat together.

Anyway…things aren’t as bad when we’re all rested up, but right before we go to bed someone always gets their feelings hurt somehow…just shows to go ya how important rest is I guess :slight_smile:

As for the computer, I will probably install Mepis Linux on that machine if it keeps getting infected. I’m using it on my desktop right now and I think it will work just fine.

I disagree, he’s looking for advice on this subject, from friends. Who, consequently live in europe.

This is perfectly understandable since every TV show is an accurate documentary of American life.

:o where do you live?

Just outside Charleston, South Carolina, southeast US. I’ve lived in Seattle (west coast) and Indiana (midwest). I was being sarcastic. Every country has something goofy. I find it difficult to understand when other countries think Americans don’t understand the world, but their own opinions of Americans rely on movie and TV programs to know what ‘we are really like’. I saw this with Japanese exchange students. I think they expected high speed car chases and police shootouts to be a daily occurence. It is also difficult for most foreign visitors to comprehend how large the US is.

So are you saying I shouldn’t base my views of america on “Gummo” ?

Of course not, but you should also use these references:

Blazing Saddles - for an 1800s history lesson and true race relations in the US.

Deliverance - for rural American values

Scarface (Al Pacino version) - for southern Florida current events

Delta Force (Chuck Norris) - for US anti-terrorism policy

Rambo II and III - for US military training

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - for personal travel in the US

Animal House - for US college life

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - for a day in the life of an average high school student

Just give a slap round the chops and say that when she’s in the house she will eat what you can damn well afford and nothing more. Than slap her again to make the point. That’s how they do it in Italy. I saw it on TV once.

Oh yeah, you just happened to be looking. It sounds like you feel uncomfortable around her because she is younger and maybe more attractive than your wife. If you don’t have the self-constraint required to keep your distance, but want to keep your wife, kick her out the door. Otherwise, well y’know. But don’t stop her wearing the loose clothes. Ok, you might not be able to cope but there are a lot of single guys in the world (like me) who need girls like her to give us hope. And yes, that’s just how Italians are - the young ones at least.

The eating habits are a bit odd too. Monica Bellucci likes to stay for breakfast at my house sometimes and one day she wanted pancakes with syrup. Nothing wrong there I thought but just after I gave her the syrup she did this:

I was like WTF Monica, that’s not how you put syrup on your pancakes. I was all laughing and I took a picture. But hey she let me lick it off so I wasn’t too bothered.

Just ask her to make something that they eat in Italy and do exactly the same thing to her.

Packet sniffer?? Just get something to record keystrokes (appropriate URL dontcha think?):

Nah, just hook up a webcam in the shower and broadcast her naked butt to the world.

Well, my parents have a bad situation at the moment with my American relatives. The problem is actually my mother who has sorta fallen out with them. She really looks for faults and sometimes they are minor things but they add up until she eventually criticises everything they do. I don’t want to go into detail but the situation has brought my parents to the brink of divorce and I think it’s just a matter of time.

Is your wife as disturbed by her friend’s bad behavior as you are? If she is, you and she need to decide how to approach her with some common-sense rules about her behavior in your home.

Don’t insult her or inform her that her behavior is atrocious. She should already know that. If you and your wife sit her down and explain what you expect from her while she lives under your roof she will recognize her guilt and, unless she really is an uncivilized snot, she will get the point.

Remember, you are the host. She’s breaking the laws of hospitality. There’s no “friend” worth several months of abuse. If she’s a friend, she should behave. Her current attitude is worse than that of bad American tourists --most of whom have the common sense to recognize when they’re in a foreign country, if not behave graciously.

Be straight-forward. Don’t bring up what she has or hasn’t done right. Just state the house rules and your expectation that she abide by them while staying with you.