Gillian: Gillian's Lists
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Rome, etc.
I am from Eastern Tennessee, I lived in Washington, DC for a long time, and then in West and Southern Africa for an even longer time. Now I live in Rome, Italy. I moved from Harare, Zimbabwe in 2006 when my husband’s job with the United Nations transferred him here.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
Since college days friends have asked for my recommendations of things to do/eat/see. After living in Rome for two years, in 2008 I decided to do something constructive with all of the information I had collected and so started blogging. In 2012 I compiled another set of information that I had been researching and sharing privately and created my App Rome For Expats.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in Rome differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
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...
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Rome? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
The International school we chose was really more much Italian than international, I was not prepared for school to not be a very welcoming community.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Do not underestimate the importance of La Bella Figura. I thought I could go from a yoga class to running errands, in my same (cute) yoga outfit. Yeah, you can’t do that here. Your butcher will call you out.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Rome?
Slow down, embrace chaos, learn Italian.
How is the expat community in Rome? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community here in Rome is large and varied. There really is something for everyone; There are cultural groups like the American Academy, Professional groups (AICR), Women’s groups (AWAR), blogger groups and of course InterNations.
How would you summarize your expat life in Rome in a single, catchy sentence?
Filled with sunshine, coffee, chaos, family and friends.