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Australia vs Italy: Shopping experience

It comes as no surprise that, when you've been living in the same place all your life, every daily habit becomes normality. The truth is that such behaviour is not the same everywhere around the world. So, consider this your little handy guide for visiting Italy, or Australia. Just a quick heads up, you will not find any of the following content on a tour guide. You're welcome.

Australia vs Italy: shopping

From my Northern Italian perspective, everyone in Australia is excessively nice. I needed to specify 'Northern' because we are well known to behave like bears, the animal, keeping to our own, not too outgoing nor laid back. Since I moved to Melbourne there hasn't been a single morning where someone greeted me with a simple 'Good morning' or 'Hi' without adding 'How is it going?'. In Italy, you are lucky if people as much as acknowledge you with a nod; this happens at work, in your neighbourhood, especially in shops! You see, when you are shopping in Italy no shop assistant will bother you, talk to you, ask if you needed help or, God forbid! Ask how you are.

So, my fellow Aussies, when in Italy, forget smiles and compliments, they don't like you and it's nothing personal.

One more thing that blew my mind, and I am not exaggerating, is the organised queue to pay at the till. An actual queue line, with an entrance, an exit, and people calling from the first free register!

What novelty!

In Italy we have no such thing. It isn't even a 'first come first serve' situation, more like 'who hands in their money first, wins'. Now, you can understand how proximity plays a huge role in this shop situation, even more so when getting on a train, entering a cinema, at the Christmas markets, ordering a drink, etc. Your elbows are your best friends. And keep clear from boney old ladies!

Trying to outsmart others, or taking any shortcut to your desired goal, seems to be a very common habit in Italy. It's not that we are chaotic evil, we just want to get things done the best way. For each of us.

Talking about doing things 'the best' way. One time, in America, I was carefully getting my total ready to pay, thankfully the queue was long and I had time to sort out my coins! Once my turn, the cashier told me that what I handed him was insufficient due to taxes added to my total. What taxes? That was the exact price on the tag. I counted it!

Turns out, they add taxes on top of the shown price. I feel like that's great to train your mind to do percentage and math things in real life. Although on a practical level it seems very impractical. Excuse the oxymoron.

You would be surprised how different ways to deal with change there are around the world! For example, in Australia, they don't have 1 cent coins, so everything will be rounded up. Forget the appeal of 'only $9.99!' because that's a plain $10. In Italy, during the 90s, newsagents used to give us kids candy/lollies instead of actual change. You may not know that in Japan they are specialised in handing you your change balanced on a single note or a little tray. The reason for that, in a nutshell, is cleanliness and courtesy, and we can't argue with that. Well, in Italy we exchange money by putting it on the counter, too bad courtesy has nothing to do with it. The concept behind this habit is: it's there, I see it, you see it, we can't trick each other and steal any money from our exchange.

I have to admit that one of my favourite things here is the concept of 'return policy'. If you are not happy with your purchase you can change it or get your money back.

That's genius!

To appreciate it you have to understand that, in Italy, they would rather fake their own death than give you your money back. They would rather steal the Mona Lisa and let you take that as a voucher for your next purchase, than give you your money back. They would rather bring back time and don't let you buy that item, than give you your money back.



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