Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured bloggers in Rome:
Rome can be shocking in a few ways. Being in the midst of ancient Roman remnants with modern chaotic life piled right on top is aesthetically foreign and overwhelming to our senses. One feels small next to the Colosseum and insignificant in its shadow. You get a new perspective on history, I think it’s wonderful! But the city is generally chaotic and full of cars and traffic.
Living in Rome is like looking through a kaleidoscope: every scene is colorful, beautiful, even addictive, but logically, your brain has a hard time making sense of it. Don’t try. Just enjoy the view.
Even Romans are not fully prepared for what lies in wait in Rome, yet that is part of the beauty of the “Eternal City”, anything’s possible. To try and plan for all the possible pitfalls, roadblocks and inconveniences would consume a lifetime, and you can never plan how you will feel.
Most of my friends here are Italian. I have always felt that if you are going to live in a foreign country, you should not spend your time trying to re-create life in your old one. That said, I do have several close, non-Italian friends, mostly Americans, Brits or Australians and a couple of Germans as well.
I had been an expat for almost 15 years by the time I got to Rome, so I was pretty used to that part of the life. The biggest adjustment after so many years in Southern Africa was believing it really was safe to be out after dark. I was very happy to be living in a big city again and being able to walk everywhere and have museums and concerts and lectures to attend. Access to information was my biggest hurdle. I found it quite difficult finding connections to people in the know for the basics, like setting up internet, electricity etc...
I think that I did the best that I could with the knowledge that I had at the time. Obviously there were some mistakes, which translated to a lot of wasted time. If I had to do it over again, I guess there’s one thing that I’d do differently: work even harder at the language before arriving. My Italian is passable, but it’s weak enough to exclude me from certain opportunities, both professional and social.
Perhaps my attempt to over-plan resulted in a rather soft landing in Italy. Looking back, I probably would have opened an Italian bank account sooner if I had known it was less scary/ overwhelming. I also would have learned to drive stick! You can forget about coming across many automatic transmissions in these parts.
I would learn the language beforehand as best I could and also join some expat groups online and research groups and places I could go to make friends. And then join as many activities as I could. Also ask questions of expats already living in Rome and get their advice and friendship.