InterNations Featured Blog
Jasmine: Questa Dolce Vita
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.
My name is Jasmine, I am 26 years old and a native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (in Western Canada). I am a second-generation Canadian and I love country music and the blue sky of the prairies, but I also love all things Italian (I think that’s called being an italophile?). I studied Pharmacy and Italian at the University of Alberta, graduated in 2013, and practiced as a community pharmacist for one year before moving to Italy in December 2014 to join up with my fiancé who is from Bergamo. We met while he was writing his thesis at my university in Edmonton more than six years ago and the rest is history.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in summer last year when I was on vacation in Italy with my mother. I was originally going to start once I moved but then I thought it might be interesting for people to get a perspective on all the work that goes into moving countries – from visas to putting all my belongings on a ship to Italy. I also had the opportunity to tour some possible wedding venues in Italy and wanted to share them with friends. Obviously now, the blog is a great way to not only communicate my adventures and mishaps with everyone back home but with all those who might be dreaming of the expat life or are living it like me!
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Italy differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
To tell the absolute truth, living in Italy is very different from being on vacation and people should think about that before rushing to move here. It is not always balmy and summertime either, I arrived in winter and Bergamo is often quite cold (even compared to Canada because of the high humidity), fog is common, and of course all the charming cafes and terraces are closed. Italy day-to-day is actually not terribly different from life in any other country, the thing that makes it unique is the fact that you can go to a local market for groceries or have drinks in a bar that is hundreds of years old. You are always surrounded by history and beauty. I’m not having tons of trouble, more often frustrations with bureaucracy and red tape than anything else. Things here are slower and require multiple steps so someone who loves efficiency probably wouldn’t love this country. I have had milder culture shock than many expats because I came fairly fluent in the language having studied it at a university level for three years, taking multiple classes each semester. I had also visited six times prior and done a study abroad course for a summer, so I felt more prepared for what was in store for me here. I have written a few posts about little things that are different here (one of the links is listed above).
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Italy? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I may have already answered the majority of this question above. However, I wouldn’t change any of the preparations I made. I highly recommend anyone planning on moving to Italy to visit multiple times and multiple regions for longer periods of time to get an idea of what daily life is really like and how it can vary depending where in the country you are. Everyone should study Italian beforehand, it’s indispensable.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
There are tons. Recently I started taking the bus but the very first time, I had no idea that certain stops are only on request and you need to hail the bus as if it were a taxi. I had never done this in Canada so on one particular day, I found myself stranded for hours, having missed two buses in a row and I just could not figure out why they weren’t stopping for me!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?
- Throw caution out the window, especially in learning the language. Children are so much better learning languages and one of the reasons is that they don’t get embarrassed to try! I have spoken with many expats who want to learn the language, yet they are scared to speak. You need to just go for it, even if you know your accent is off and your grammar is imperfect. Sbagliando, si impara is a saying here in Italy – you learn from making mistakes.
- Get as much information about visas/required documentation etc. from the consulate or embassy in your home country as you can. The immigration offices here can be extremely busy, crowded, and unhelpful. Best to do your homework before arriving.
- Join an expat community and start getting information and general tips from others that are already living in your choice city or area. You won’t get better information than directly from the source and expats have a very unique and relatable view on issues that natives can’t even begin to understand. This also helps in that when you arrive, you won’t feel so alone, you’ll already have a group of instant friends ready to show you the ropes!
How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
It is very strong in my opinion, I was pleasantly surprised. Especially in my home town, there is an excellent group of us and I already have quite a few international friends thanks to an English Speakers’ Meetup group (InterNations does not have a Bergamo group as of yet). Finding like-minded people is not hard if you look and get involved with the many sites for expats. Of course, it is even easier in Italy’s bigger cities like Milan to find fellow expats, however I might venture to say in smaller cities, it’s easier to form closer relationships faster as the expat groups are not as expansive.
How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?
The frustrations of expat life in Italy are easily out-weighed by the excellent wine and passionate people.