InterNations Featured Blog
Recommended Expat Blogs: Italy
Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Italy:
The expat community in Italy is thriving. There are many Americans, Brits and Europeans living in Florence alone and it’s easy to meet people. When I first came, I definitely struggled because I didn’t know where to go; I had no internet and relied a lot on my boyfriend. Now there are so many expat groups around town that I never feel lonely. Even through babysitting, I have been very lucky to find lifelong friends and people who are family to me here. We organize hikes, wine nights, share books and recipes. They are a big part of my life in Firenze.
The blogging started when the stories took on a life of their own. It was a natural progression. Blogging is a convenient way to stay connected to family & friends, I never expected others would read my words. I continuously question if writing is something I want to do. However, when I’m not working on design, writing has become an outlet for my creativity.
Get a working knowledge of the language before you move here. I’ve muddled by and do OK nowadays, but it’s taken me 3 years to get to upper intermediate level – so still a long way from fluent - in Italian. This is largely because I’m lazy and don’t study, but is also because I arrived here starting from cold, bar a couple of online lessons. Yes, it’s possible to get by if you arrive knowing nothing, but it will enrich your experience so much more, and make the settling in process a thousand times easier, if you can chat to people and make friends.
My life in Italy so far simply brims with anecdotes; the group of little old ladies in their eighties who set out for a long walk every day, rain or shine; the many hours spent chasing my own tail inside Italy’s bureaucratic machine; acting as taxi driver for an elderly Italian neighbour to his hospital appointment but then being asked by the nurse to make sure he understands all the hip-replacement terminology she is spouting – in Italian…
I moved here in difficult circumstances, leaving behind a long marriage and very secure life and I don’t think I could have prepared myself any more than I did. If I’d thought about it all too much perhaps I wouldn’t have done it, and that would have been a terrible loss.
One thing I would have done differently is learn the language better before my move. I was completely clueless for months, especially at my job, where there is no English spoken and I was on my own. This really put a damper on my enthusiasm a lot of days in the beginning and it took a lot of work and coming home with a headache many nights. A crash course in Italian is good, but when I was experiencing that many changes at the same time, it would have taken a lot of weight off of my shoulders if I had had a deeper understanding of the language.
We prepared as best we could, but given the fact that from a legal point of view it is almost impossible to move here if you don’t have a company sponsor or marry an Italian, there were some huge obstacles to get past. It was also difficult to enter the Italian school system at the middle school level. Probably, it would have been easier if our daughter had started in elementary school when the teachers are more compassionate and the academic material is easier. She had to do six hours of homework a day that first year: three in Italian and three in English. In the end she got better grades that many of her classmates and is completely independent and fluent this year.
In hindsight, I would have changed pretty much everything. I probably would have moved directly to Rome versus staying in Milan for 12 years, I certainly should have taken Italian lessons – seriously – and I would have tried to watch more Italian TV (I am not kidding), ‘cuz that’s basically the best way to really learn the local language…Talk Shows. But, if you’ve ever had a taste of Italian TV, you would understand that I could never bring myself to doing it.
If you dig your heels in and you don’t let go of where you came from, you won’t be able to experience your temporary life in your new place to the fullest ability. Now, Italy’s way of doing things is no longer a comparison to home, but more just an acceptance of a fact, however comical it may be.
Are you an expat blogger and would like to be featured here? Get in touch with us!