After a long night in the city of Florence, Italy, many Elon University students craving the comforts of home find their way to “The American Diner,” a restaurant in the heart of the City of Renaissance that’s been serving bacon, eggs and home fries since 2004.
Greasy American diner food isn’t what normally comes to mind when one thinks of Italy. In fact, breakfast isn’t even a popular meal for Italians. A traditional Italian breakfast is simple and usually consists of coffee, bread, cheese and maybe a pastry.
Yashvi Patel, an Elon student studying abroad in Florence, said that on a weekend trip to Prague, she walked down a street that boasted a Starbucks, KFC, Subway, Burger King, TGI Friday's, McDonald's and Hooters, which sounds all-too reminiscent of what we might find here in Burlington, North Carolina.
This is a true example of “McWorld”, the takeover of American chain restaurants, specifically McDonald's, throughout the world. Yes, that’s right. McDonald’s has its own term to describe its world domination.
McDonald’s represents speed, ease, affordability and mass production — many of the things students are trying to escape when they leave for their semester-long voyages to Europe and other parts of the world.
So are Elon students still getting the experience they’re signing up for? The sabbatical from all that is Americana? For such a short amount of time immersed in a culture, students still struggle to truly escape Americanization.
We live in a global and interconnected age. Today traveling is easier, businesses know no borders and the Internet has the power to connect people instantly. However, though this technology can allow for constant communication with the states, that’s not to say students studying abroad aren’t being exposed to other cultures.
And as Yashvi said, “Italy is definitely more laid back than America…being in a rush is not possible.”
Yashvi’s comment proves that native culture remains strong in these study abroad hot spots even though the conveniences of American society have become commonplace. Now, students seem to be mixing their favorite aspects of home with the culture of their new foreign retreats.
We can only hope the next combo meal at McDonalds will unite the best of both worlds. Gelato with a side of fries, anyone?