My partner has gone back to Italy to visit family for christmas - I'm flying out in a few days, and she asked me to buy for her sister a t-shirt that says "My sister goes to [university/city name] and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". I couldn't find one in the shops so I thought I'd make one.

I was thinking maybe I'd write it in English on the front and Italian on the back. My Italian è molto male, and I could ask my partner but that would ruin the surprise. So I was wondering whether someone could advise me on whether there is a usual phrasing for this kind of t-shirt joke in Italy, or if not, of a good way to translate it. Off the top of my head, I think the best thing I could come up with on my own would be something like

Mia sorella studia in [place], e io ho solo questa maglietta male!

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    It's best you to tell us what is the name of the University as in Italian it's somehow hard to coordinate the proposition to its noun: Mia sorella studia a Yale..., or ...studia al MIT..., or else ...studia all'UCLA....
    – N74
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 15:06
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    @N74: Right, but not so hard. In general, if the university is defined by its location, we tend to omit the article (studia a Oxford, a Princeton, a Pisa...), while if we use the name of an institution, we tend to use the article (studia al MIT, all'UCLA, al Queen Mary, alla Sorbona, alla Normale...). In this context, Yale and Harvard are often misused in Italian, perhaps because some people think they are names of places.
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 15:29

3 Answers 3


A slight variation on Josh61's answer: “Mia sorella studia a ... e non mi ha portato altro che questo schifo di maglietta”, or with “mi ha portato solo” in the place of “non mi ha portato altro che”.


This is a translation you might use:

  • Mia sorella studia all'università di ...e tutto quello che mi ha portato è questa schifosissima maglietta.
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    Inoltre, schifosissima si può sostituire con parecchi aggettivi, come orribile, stupida, etc. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 0:07

An expression that matches the spirit I perceive from the English slogan is Mia sorella studia a... e tutto quello che ci ho guadagnato è questa stupida maglietta.

I would use ci ho guadagnato because I think the joke relies strictly on the idea that someone is doing something supposedly important, "high-flying" (even just sarcastically, and not necessarily traveling or residing in some away place) and someone else connected to this person is expecting to obtain from that some advantage for himself / herself (which also carries a sarcastic value, and also not limited to receiving a souvenir from the place where the first person traveled / resided).

I used stupid because I think it's important that the joke points to the T-shirt being something simply useless or of little value because it's just a T-shirt, regardless of whether it's ugly or beautiful as a T-shirt.

In any case mind @N74's comment about the proposition, it might cause errors.

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    I see @SantiBailors's point, but I find ottenuto slightly stilted here. In the sense he points out, I'd go for tutto quello che ne ho ricavato or tutto quello che ci ho guadagnato.
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 23:51
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    @DaG I agree. Of your two options I like ci ho guadagnato better, because I think that to match the original joke (this specific one) it's important to keep the tone on as colloquial a level as possible, and ci ho guadagnato does the job perfectly. Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 10:27

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