Moving abroad is a fun, crazy, and hard experience. Here’s how we’re adjusting to Italy so far!
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Can you believe we’ve been living in Italy for six months now??? I can’t, and I’m the one doing it! 😉
But seriously, we arrived six months ago tomorrow. And while our arrival was a little bumpy, it’s crazy to think about how much we’ve learned, seen and done in that time!
We love our town. My husband did a ton of research before we arrived and felt strongly that Sacile had the best options for what we wanted in a town, and it has proven to be such a great choice. At 20 minutes from base, the town doesn’t feel dominated by Americans, but locals often speak English or are patient with my Italian.
I definitely feel settled in. As we headed home from Munich after nearly a month solid of travel, I had that sense of anticipation you always get when you’re happy to be headed home. After a week of not speaking the language and exploring yet another culture, I was excited to head back to the familiarity of Italy!
That being said, I haven’t done the best job exploring the local area on my own. Unless someone suggests an area, I haven’t wandered too far afield and I’m excited to do more of that in the coming weeks!
The language barrier is simultaneously the hardest and the best part of daily life here. As a Romance language, there are so many similarities between Italian and English. That, combined with taking two years of Italian in college, means that I’m doing pretty well in my Italian classes here. I’m loving being back in a school setting, even for just an hour a week, and engaging my brain this way.
There’s a special kind of elation I feel when I successfully carry on a full conversation with my neighbor or the barista. I’m talking about not just smiling and shrugging, but actually responding and asking questions. I’ve managed to translate a prosecco tasting when the English-speaking staff was gone, and when I attended a Papal audience this fall I was able to understand the message before they offered a translation. But it’s also so frustrating to not be able to make yourself understood, or not be able to solve a simple problem, because of the lack of words.
A funnier hurdle has been accents. Italian as a language is very loosely affiliated. Some regions, like Naples, argue that they speak a different language rather than a dialect. I can get along with most accents, but Neapolitan and Venetian are the two that get me: they’re so thick, I sometimes can’t even decipher the syllables!
Day to Day Adjusting to Italy
Day to day, I still notice a decent amount of displacement. Not in a bad way, but the fact is that I’m still not confident when trying to buy fish, or sure what exactly this vegetable is, or understand how and when to pay my wifi bill.
I’m so much more aware of just how every situation has a set of unwritten rules we grow up understanding, but when we leave our culture of origin we have to learn the new rules. Add that on top of not being confident in the language and it means something as simple as taking the dog to the vet can be overwhelming and take most of the day. It’s usually funny after the fact, but it means that nothing is simple. Again, that’s not a bad thing! But it’s definitely a game-changer when I think about how I spend my day.
One surprisingly hard thing about travel is that Logan’s work schedule is absurdly busy. The office has a higher tempo than our last assignment, combined with his job description this year means that we go through phases of him not being able to leave even on weekends. So when he’s not slammed, we go!
Now that we’re a little further into adjusting to Italy, I want to get more organized on exploring. There are so many great day trips and weekend options close by that I don’t want to overlook in favor of more well-known destinations.
Wedge’s Adjusting to Italy
Everyone’s favorite Italian pup remains the biggest dog in the city. Italians’ baseline love of dogs is way higher here. Daily I get stopped so people can ask about him, and once they know he’s friendly they often get on the ground with him. It’s thanks to Wedge that I have most of my Italian conversations!
Another question I get often is “how does a dog that large handle living in an apartment?” Truth is, he does great. He’s an adult dog used to asking to go outside, so he’s never had an accident in the apartment. Even when we had a backyard, he’d never go out there and run around alone, so I’ve always walked him daily, so this isn’t that new to our routine. If we both worked long hours, it would be different, but right now, it works great!
Expat life can be complicated and hard at times, but it’s also wonderful. I hope this shines a light on how I’m adjusting to Italy so far!
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