Podcast: Reverse Culture Shock, Italy to the USA

Podcast episode with Paolo from www.disgracesonthemenu.com about experiencing reverse culture shock when moving back to your home country after living abroad.

Often, you can’t piece together your feelings or conclusions about an experience until much further down the road, when you’ve gained perspective. That’s been the case with the move back from Italy to the USA. While I’ve already written a couple of posts about this, each chunk of time gives me another step back to see a bigger picture.

Paolo contacted me to do a fourth episode with him on his podcast, Thoughts on the Table, to talk about the experience of moving back home. He has recently done his second international move (originally from Italy, Paolo moved to Canada in 2000 and to England in 2018; you can listen more about that here), so it was fun to exchange our thoughts on similar but different moves.

The episode is structured on my recent post, There and Back Again, with additional insight. Check it out below and please feel free to comment with your own thoughts or experiences on reverse culture shock, relocation, or anything else that’s brought to mind:

[Thoughts on the Table – 70] Define Culture Shock – Diana Zahuranec’s Take on Relocating and Moving Back

Streets of Turin. Photo by Manuel Reinhard on Unsplash
Streets of Turin. Photo by Manuel Reinhard on Unsplash

Other episodes from Thoughts on the Table

I was delighted to be a returning guest on Paolo’s podcast! Previously, we’d discussed why I’d moved to Italy, the Mediterranean diet, and Italian wine culture. Check out the episodes below:

#1. A Podcast to Answer the Question, “Why Italy?”

I met Paolo, an Italian expat living (at the time of the podcast) in Canada, at Turin Epicurean Capital 2014. This event, created and hosted by Lucia Hannau of www.turinepi.com, gathered food and wine bloggers, writers, and lovers from all over the globe for a 3-day series of round table discussions, tours, and workshops.

Paolo and I found that we had much in common, even though we had practically done a country swap. He was intrigued to find an American expat in Italy – saying that most Italians dream of going to America – while I said just the opposite, noting how people assume I am living a life of constant vacation (though I admit to enjoying constant good food and wine).

As they say, the grass is greener on the other side, and no one knows this better than an expatriate. Because it is also true that, once you’re living in your adopted country, you also see everything you had taken for granted in your home country. And yet, moving back, it would never be the same again. The ideal solution would be to mash up both countries’ Best-Of features and create a special island in the Atlantic.

→ Thoughts on the Table – 29 – Introducing Diana Zahuranec, Journalist and Italy Enthusiast

#2. The Mediterranean “diet” in the USA and Italy

When I wrote my thesis at Penn State, I was already resigned to the fact that it would probably just get filed away and forgotten by everyone but the library gnomes who dwell in the stacks.

I was shocked delighted when Paolo asked me if he could read it after I mentioned it in my first podcast with him. He had always been interested in the Mediterranean diet, and my thesis focuses on exactly that subject. In the podcast, we talk about the role of tradition and innovation in how we eat, differences in food cultures, and evolving cuisines and eating habits. We also get into cornetti, hyperpalatable food, chandeliers in McDonald’s, and how you’d have to drink enough wine to kill you if you wanted the benefits of resveratrol – but why this doesn’t even matter. Here’s a link to the podcast:

[Thoughts on the Table – 34] The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle, with Diana Zahuranec

And if you want to go deeper into the discussion…the thesis itself is about contemporary food cultures in America and Italy. It looks at the discrepancy between rising obesity rates and the focus on dieting in American food culture, the influences of tradition and lifestyle on modern cuisine, and how differences I observed in the two countries can be seen in the way the single word “diet” is perceived: restriction (US) versus what one eats (Italy). If you’re interested, yay! and here it is:

The Meaning of “Diet:” A Cross-Cultural Comparison of American and Italian Food Culture and Links to Obesity

# 3. All About Italian Wine Culture

The majority of my wine education and experience was in Piemonte, where I learned that wine isn’t just a beverage but an integral part of the meal and of huge importance in many people’s lives.

Tune in to hear about differences in North American and Italian winemaking, some of Piemonte’s key grape varieties and wines, and how black wine glasses were a big (and fun!) part of my continued education:

[Thoughts on the Table – 37] The Italian Wine Culture, with Diana Zahuranec

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