CULTURE SHOCK! in Québec #1 | Letting a 16 years old kid drive during a snow storm sounds okay in Québec

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March 2015.

That year I had the chance to travel to Québec for a school project. I was attending the fifth and last year of a Linguistic High School, and the reason why I found myself lost in the Canadian snow was linked to my commitment to a french drama club. My companions and I were invited to join a theater festival organised by a local high school, a big event in which people from all parts of Canada and a few more countries of other continents took part to live 3 days in the spirit of cultural exchange and love for theater.
A nice and innocent experience you may say, but it actually turned out to be one of the most thrilling and dangerous ones I could ever live. When the plane took off  I was convinced to be going to live a movie like adventure: I could never expect to experience one of the most horrible and humiliating experiences of my life.

The morning of the deed I woke up in the grip of an uncontrollable excitement: it was the day I would have finally performed and found the glory I was looking for – I get quite vainglorious when my acting skills are mentioned. When I reached the kitchen to have breakfast with my host family, I noticed it was heavily snowing outside: it was the first sign, God was sending me a signal of the future events, but I was too distracted by the food disposed on the table to be aware of it… Damn it the glutton side of me.

At the time of leaving home to get to school, the father said: “Raphael will bring you to school this morning”. It was the last name I could expect to hear, the one I didn’t want to hear. Raphael was, indeed, the older brother of my Canadian buddy, but don’t get deceived but that ‘older’: he was a 16 years old kid who had just taken the driving license.

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Pretty much my expression when his name was mentioned

Can’t deny the strong desire to make one last phone call to my parents as soon as I got in the car, but the suspicious me of the past prefered to behave as fear wasn’t taking over in order not to worry her driver. On this matter, my thought was the following: if I doubt the driving skill of the guy, the guy would doubt himself and no faith in any god would ever help me survive. Maybe my fake smile ratted out my absolute distrust, but nothing was very explicit.
In the end, the 20 minutes ride to school turned out for the best: I reached the place safe and sound and, except for a weird turning, the boy perfectly drove through the snow storm.

The fact I was so worried I hopelessly faced what I considered a certain death in the most dramatic way, made me realise the real problem was probably me. It wasn’t just because of the fact I was 19 ,I still had to take a driving license and I was driven to school by a guy younger than me, it wasn’t the point. The real drama was caused by my Italian nature.
Assuming that in most parts of Italy snow means blocked road, all sorts of troubles and general panic, Italians generally tend to be very protective towards their progeny. Mother hen is a real matter in Italy and letting a novice driver drive for more than 50km sounds scary, let alone it’s snowing like crazy outside: the guy wouldn’t even step out the front door. It’s not because of the kid, it’s because of the evil environment and the infamous ‘others’ which can’t be trusted. Italians know the truth behind the world’s mechanism and they know they can’t trust their sons and sons learn to doubt themselves, because no one can do it better than our parents.

All in all, this small adventure taught me perception must be fitted in the context: I can’t fear a kid to drive through a snow storm in Canada, as well as I wouldn’t doubt a kid cooking a dish of pasta or making coffee in Italy. It’s all about where I happen to be in the world and adapt myself to the environment, even though I don’t think I would be willing to repeat this kind of experience ever again: no one on earth can be more reassuring than a parent and nobody can persuade me. 

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