As we strive to maximize these final weeks (after which we'll travel around Europe for a month), we also find ourselves increasingly thinking about what this experience has taught us. Thus our blog may take on a more reflective tone in future posts, as we try to capture some of the lessons learned – starting with the topic of US/European conversion.
Lesson 1: Do not convert Euros to Dollars.
Early on we were told our lives would be less stressful if we just pretended that the prices listed in Euro were actually in US Dollars. That sounded absurd at the time, but it has proven to be the best strategy to take the sting out of the weak exchange rate. So, for example, the price on the substandard grocery store can opener seemed only semi-exploitative when thinking of it as a $7 purchase. But had we taken the actual 7 Euro price and converted it to the nearly $10 equivalent, we’d have opened up a whole can of worms which feed on $tre$$!
Lesson 2: Do convert Weights and Measures.
The metric system makes everything simpler, but there are times when it’s important to convert. Such as when your daughters are ogling the marzipan sweets, perfectly formed into fruits and vegetables, but you fail to realize that the price equates to $1.80 per ounce! (Next time their treat will be the marzipan cherry instead of the pineapple.)
Or, when taking your visiting friend for a Cinque Terre hike, only to discover that the seaside trails are still closed due to landslides. The park ranger tells you that “the hillside routes are an intense but manageable 320 in elevation.” Somehow that sounded reassuring, especially when ignoring the conversion to 1,000 feet, both up and down!
Lesson 3: Some things just don't convert.
Take clothing sizes, for example. The white t-shirt is a US purchase, size Small. The gray t-shirt is an Italian purchase, size Large.
What's remarkable isn't just that the Italian Large is actually smaller, but also that Italian style would dictate getting an Italian Small to comply with local fashion: assuming you’re okay with the world knowing if you have an innie or an outie.