Even when I am not running into a wall of language difficulties, I have found that Europeans have some strange mannerisms and customs...
1. Frenchmen actually say “enchante” when they meet you. They don’t necessarily kiss your hand and leer at you when they do, however. The French also use the following words in regular conversation without sounding like pretentious asses: rapprochement, mise-en-scène, coup de grâce, sonndage, vis-à-vis.
2. Don’t leave a pen in the pocket of your jacket when you use the bathroom. It will fall out, and you will be required to fish it out of the bowl. (Sorry, OMII – I dropped your lovely purple and teal pen into a vat of urine.)
3. If an Italian tells you that someone speaks English, they probably don’t. Likewise, if someone says they don’t speak good English, they probably do.
4. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is even more boring and drawn-out in Italian than in English. I watched a woman sweat over the answer to a 70,000 euro question concerning soccer goals for a full 20 minutes.
5. Trying to look like a local doesn’t actually get you harassed less. It just confuses the bums who hit you up for change or cigarettes, forcing them to call you what can only be assumed to be bad names, and it confuses lost Italians who ask you for directions, causing them to assume you’re mentally challenged and can only say yes.
6. Drinking out of a Nalgene bottle gets you stared at as if you were the new god of a cargo cult.
7. High fashion among high school boys is cuffing your jeans. (I’ve heard it called pegging your jeans before, but that just sounds too scandalous to me.) I don’t know what the Italian term is, but the fashion statement involves safety-pinning the jeans nice and tight around the ankles, the way we used to do in the late 80s.