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Sophie and Ryan: Here We Go Again!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.

My husband and I moved to Cortina d’Ampezzo in September of 2011. Ryan (my husband) is a professional hockey player and he signed with a team here, in the top Italian hockey league. Originally I’m from Massachusetts and Ryan is from Colorado; we’re a long way from home so obviously we miss our family and friends but we love, love, love the Italian lifestyle and can’t imagine leaving Italy.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I started my first blog in 2011 when we moved to Cortina as a way to keep family and friends informed of our adventures. It was exhausting to write the same email 10 different times to our parents, siblings and friends, so the blog started as a way to keep everyone in the loop. My current blog, Here We Go Again, was started the next year, in 2012, when I decided to get more serious about blogging; in the past few years, my readership has grown and my audience has expanded past our immediate families, which has been great.

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?

Our lives in Italy are MUCH more laidback compared to in the US. We hardly ever drive here. I usually go to the grocery store once a day (because our refrigerator is tiny) and I go to different stores for meat, bread, wine, etc. Everything in Cortina closes from 12:30 to 3:30 daily (and all day on Sunday). There is definitely that lack of convenience that you find everywhere in the US, but personally I don’t mind it. My husband and I go back to Colorado for a few months each summer and that’s when we experience culture shock now; everything seems so big, people are driving slowly and there are endless options for cereal at the grocery store.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Italy? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Looking back, I see that I wasn’t prepared at all – basically in the way that I didn’t know what to expect. For example, I came to Cortina (a ski town) with no ski pants! Crazy! But Cortina is a small town and it was easy to get the hang of it. The only thing I would do differently was to learn more Italian before we came here.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

On our very first night in Cortina, we went out to dinner at a restaurant in town. We were super nervous and didn’t know what to do – did we wait for someone to seat us or did we just sit down? Was it okay to ask for an English menu? My husband was trying to order a glass of Prosecco and he ended up pointing to an address on his placemat rather than anything on the menu. That’s a story that gets retold over and over as the time he ordered an address.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?

  • Embrace the local culture – just because it’s different from what you’re used to at home, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or bad. For example, I used to think it was a huge pain that the grocery store was closed from 12:30 to 3:30 every day. But now I work around it, and instead spend those hours enjoying a long lunch, as the Italians would.
  • Try to get out and do as many things as possible – this is how you’ll meet people and have new experiences. It can be overwhelming to be an expat in a strange place but this isn’t the time to sit at home!
  • Indulge – I know we won’t be living in Italy forever so I never say no to a drink before lunch or a helping of tiramisu. I try to take advantage of this time to do things that I wouldn’t normally get to do back in the US… like ski on a Wednesday morning or have a big bowl of pasta for lunch.

How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I think there’s a great expat community in Italy as a whole. There are tons of expat blogs in Italy which are fun to read. In Cortina though, the expat community is tiny – basically nonexistent, aside from a few of my husband’s teammates and their families. In a way though, that’s good because it forces us to make friends with the locals here who are wonderful and helpful and friendly.

How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?

Happy days filled with adventures, exploration, homemade pasta and lots of red wine.

Brandon Le Clerk

"What I really love about InterNations? Making new business contacts and friends in real life. This is a unique plattform."

Li Wang

"At my first InterNations Rome Get-Together I met more expats then expected. InterNations made is so easy to settle in."

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