As our last true week of classes comes to a close and we begin studying for finals, I thought I would take a bit of a different approach for this post. Rather than talk about how my classes were each day, I’m going to share some insights about the Italian view of the United States. I’ll try my best to avoid making it totally political, but everywhere we go people love bringing up President Trump.
Our first week here, Nick and I had a political discussion with our host mother where she made it clear that she is not a fan of President Trump. What we soon realized is that most Italians are in the same boat as Nonna. Whenever we meet locals and tell them that we are Americans, the first thing they typically ask us about is our opinion of the governmental situation back at home. What I have come to realize in these discussions is that most Italians aren’t huge fans of President Trump because they are reminded of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. They seem to find the two very similar, and they fear that President Trump will become embroiled in corruption or promote his business interests before the wellbeing of the country as a whole. Examining this a little further, these fears are very similar to the fears of Americans who don’t like President Trump.
Not everyone is so anti-Trump, however, as we have found certain locals who think he will be good for America. One local businessman, Enzo, thinks President Trump will be good for the American economy. Enzo is hoping to open a shop in Fort Lauderdale or New York City, so he likes President Trump’s desire to bring businesses back to America rather than outsourcing jobs. While I was initially somewhat surprised to find someone in Italy that likes President Trump after encountering so much negative sentiment, I think it makes sense for an entrepreneur such as Enzo, who hopes to expand to America, to admire the economic policies of our president.
Besides just political views, we had the opportunity to speak with Nonna’s granddaughter, Annabella, about learning English as an Italian student. Annabella is now in her late 20s and she speaks beautiful english (definitely some of the best I’ve ever heard from a native Italian speaker). She studied multiple languages at the University of Naples so she speaks fluent English and French in addition to her mother-tongue. She usually lives in Naples, but last night she came to Sorrento to visit her mother and grandmother and she ate dinner with us. At dinner we asked her about her experience learning English, and it was actually very interesting. For her, the hardest part of the English language is “Phrasal verbs” (honestly, I had never heard that term used before last night). A “phrasal verb” would be something like “looking forward to,” where adding the word “forward” changes the meaning of “look” to something closer to “anticipate.” I had never thought about that before, but for a non-native speaker, English’s lack of structure and rules can be extremely difficult to grasp, even for some of the best linguists. We also discussed different idioms in each language such as “In boca lupo” (literally “In the mouth of the wolf”) as a way of saying “good luck” in Italian, or “Feeling blue” as a way to express being sad or depressed. I learned so much in just a thirty minute conversation with Annabella, and I hope that we have another opportunity to talk to her before we leave.