InterNations Featured Blog
KFT: Arrivederci BKLYN
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.
We are a family of three -- my husband, myself, and our pre-teen daughter -- who were living in Park Slope, Brooklyn and moved to Lucca, Italy in the summer of 2010 because we wanted to live our lives differently. There is a popular misconception that we are just nuts. In reality, only I am nuts and my family is very understanding. We love the quality of life here: the clean air and water, delicious fresh food, the beautiful language and culture of Italy as well as the emphasis on family. Did I mention the food?
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
We started blogging to keep family and friends in America up to date because, really, who really wants to write the same email ten thousand times?
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours? Please add the URL as well.
I can’t choose. The flea infestation of November 2010 is, of course, a highlight, and then there were the many dinners that first year resulting from my social strategy was to invite salespeople who were total strangers to have dinner with us until we got to know a bunch of people that we were interacting with every day. Thank goodness my husband is a good cook.
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?
Some funny differences about life in Lucca and life in New York are that no one makes social plans until two days before the actual event; everyone thinks that scarves will magically protect you from colds; no one ever wears gyms sneakers except for fancy ones out in the street; and everyone comes home for lunch together as a family. Now I panic if I don’t have a scarf, I judge people based on their footwear, and I never make plans until the last minute.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Italy? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
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.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
The experience of our indoor cats getting fleas from our downstairs neighbors’ dog was not even a little funny at the time, but now you have to laugh about us shaving the cats and going around in white pajamas stamping the floors trying to draw them out, while our perplexed Italian neighbors looked in at us from across the way. There was the time I said in my stumbling Italian in front of a hair salon full of ladies that I had lost weight due to the absence of preservativi in the food. Too bad that preservativi means condoms in Italian.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?
- We have met a whole lot of people who come here not speaking any Italian at all. That is super crazy. Don’t do that.
- Have a plan b, c, and d. Be very clear about what you are going to do to earn a living because in general, people work a lot here and they don’t earn very much money and we have re-invented ourselves to find work.
- You, my friends, are going to need an entirely new wardrobe. Don’t kid yourselves.
How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community in Italy is alive and thriving. There are more crazy people than you can shake a stick at.
How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?
Our new life in Italy is a hilarious and stunning adventure based on carbohydrate consumption, a heavy dependence on the Internet, and a lot of communicating with our hands.