Hayley: Molto Molto
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- Jennifer: My Sardinian Life
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.
My name is Hayley, I am a Wellingtonian, a New Zealander, and a postcard and travel lover. I moved to Italy in April 2013 with my boyfriend. We had wanted to move somewhere in Europe for a lifestyle change and to take advantage of the travel opportunities that are a little scarcer when living somewhere as remote as New Zealand. Though of course I am now missing those travel opportunities that are only possible from NZ!
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging pretty much straight away. It lets me share my travel photos with my parents and gives me an opportunity to write a little. I knew before we moved that I would be working less, so this gave me something concrete to focus on.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
- The Mas en Mas was a local eating and hiking event we went to. It’s mostly just photos, but shows a little of what it’s like in the valley surrounding us. I’ve loved attending local events and festivals.
- Sunday breakfasts is me considering some of the little differences in routines that are so normalized I wouldn’t normally think about them.
- One of the decisions we have to make this year is if we stay on for a third year, or leave for somewhere that gives me more work opportunities. I mulled it all over in A year and a bit in.
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?
I had briefly lived away from New Zealand before, so I already knew some of the challenges that came with setting up in a new place. But still, everything is different! In New Zealand I was working full-time in an office, whereas here I have a couple of odd jobs that only equal part-time work. Our life here is more relaxed and social, but I miss some food options and of course my friends and family. There are enough other international people living here in the same situation that I didn’t experience culture shock.
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 wasn’t prepared at all! I hadn’t heard of our area (Trentino) or city (Rovereto) before my boyfriend applied for his job here. Rovereto doesn’t have the same international appeal as, say, Rome, Venice or Florence, so there wasn’t really a way to get an idea of the area. For example, information online suggested that temperatures would be 10 degrees lower throughout the year than what they are as their readings came from a weather station on the top of a mountain. We arrived in April half expecting snow! We went in with a lot of unknowns, but we were lucky and things have worked out. If I could change anything, I would have liked to learn more Italian before we arrived.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
We’ve had a few language slip ups, but luckily everyone has been really nice and mostly understands what our intent is. We make a few errors getting the ‘che’ ‘ce’ and ‘chi’ ‘ci’ sounds around the right way. I’m pretty sure I’ve asked for fish instead of peaches at a fruit market stand, and Matt instructed his mum to order a glass of chardonnay as cardonnay which, having watched the Australian TV show Kath and Kim, I found hilarious.
Part of being an expat or a foreigner is that things can just seem stranger to us than they would to locals, especially when it’s just normal life happening. Once, when watching a band play in the middle of the old town, an old man from an apartment above threatened to spray everyone with a hose because of the noise. You wouldn’t get that in New Zealand, we just don’t have the same overlapping density of housing and businesses.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?
- Learn Italian! It makes everything that little bit easier.
- Moving to a new country, especially one where you don’t speak the language, is hard. So, so hard. Be prepared for things to be difficult, to not understand what’s going on, for people to not understand you, and to want to hide out at home. Have a break, get your courage back and try again.
- Remember that Italy is full of Italians just trying to get by in life, just like everywhere else.
How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Because we are connected to the university here, we are surrounded by other foreigners studying and working in similar circumstances to us. It’s meant we haven’t had the fullest of Italian experiences, but it made arriving in a new country so much easier to have people we could connect with so easily.
How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?
Confusing, amusing and delicious.