InterNations Featured Blog
Marzena: Babies and Bruschetta
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.
Born in Poland, raised in Canada, and now living in Italy for 2.5 years. That’s essentially me. Along the way, I got a degree in geophysics, hitched a husband, and popped out two children all before moving to Italy. My husband and I have always loved traveling and adventure and though I needed a little persuasion to break out of my comfort zone with the kids in Canada, I am so grateful I did and have truly become enamored with life in Milan and hence dread the day we have to leave. My name is Marzena, and www.babiesandbruschetta.com is my story.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in July 2009 to create an on-line location where family and friends could go to read and keep up with our life overseas. It’s been nothing but flattering to realize that strangers in different parts of the world have stumbled upon my site and are following our little adventure.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
The entry where I depict our initial arrival in Italy constantly reminds me of all the raw fears and feelings we shared of the unknown. It was a bonding, humbling, comical, and exciting experience, sprinkled with a little bit of frustration for us as a family to gaze upon Milan together for the first time and begin to settle down. I think of our arrival here and our first 24 hours often because I’m truly proud of how far we’ve come from the unknown to now where we really consider Milan home. But, more than anything else, this entry reminds me that just as fast as we arrived here in Milan, we will be leaving one day as well. Before that day comes, I vow to make the best of our experience, (which clearly includes sampling every gelato flavor).
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?
At the beginning of our move to Italy, I found I was constantly comparing life in Italy to life in Canada with silly mental comments such as ‘We would never do that in Canada’. This proved to be a disservice to me. Though I’ve always felt genuinely happy about our life abroad, this comparison prevented me from further enjoying our experience and after a couple of months, I learned to embrace the differences and left them flow. 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.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Italy? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
There is no way to be fully prepared when you’re moving from the known to the unexpected. Coming from life in Canada to life in Italy allowed us to have some expectations because we had traveled through Italy before, but it’s never the same thing as one envisions. In my case, I feel lucky enough to say life here has exceeded my expectations. We picked our place to live far too quickly and I would truly advise people to do all their research into the city layout and facilities/services that may be of use to them. Though I am thrilled and feel we lucked out with our apartment, it was easy to get lost in the excitement of moving overseas and hence we picked a flat too fast. Taking the time to do all your research is important.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
No expat experience would be complete without a few language misadventures. For me, I requested a piece of marzipan in the shape of a fig, and used the word ‘figa’ to request it, truly believing I was using the correct word. Turns out, I requested not a piece of marzipan, but used a slang word to request a piece of a woman’s ‘southern’ anatomy. At least I said please, even though I made the woman behind the counter blush profusely with what turned out to be my naughty request!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?
Italy has been a gem to us and if you are soon starting your move to Italy then I am not only envious that your time here is just beginning whereas our time is well passed the half-way point.
- I would suggest you take some early lessons in Italian to help you navigate around. Italians have been so friendly with trying to assist with my version of their language and they love hearing foreigners attempt it.
- Once you arrive and somewhat settle in, take the effort to do all the touristy stuff first right off the bat so that you can experience the major attractions to fit in, but then go off the beaten track to explore your own way around the city.
- Bring patience with you when it comes along to doing all your paperwork to stay in this country. The wheels of efficiency are aliased and truly appear to be moving backwards at times. However fear not, you do get everything done and sorted eventually.
How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
There are numerous resources in the online community to meet new people all over town and as a result, meeting expats in Milan has been easy. Milan has a plethora of people from all over the world that live here and for heaps of different reasons and industries. Meeting them has been not only fun, but informative. Each expat will have their own unique experience to bring to the table and there is always something to share and learn about this town. Being a mom of young kids, it was ridiculously easy to meet fellow young moms, whether it be from an organized gathering of English-speaking moms or just from a simple introduction to one another when you hear English being spoken on the playground.
How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?
It’s all bloggable.