Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Things You Should Do BEFORE Moving to Italy

“Open my heart and you will see graved inside of it, "Italy".”  Robert Browning

Do you want to sell it all and move to Italy?   I've had the joy of living in Rome for the last few years and I am thankful for that amazing experience.  I still didn't realize the kind of pull Italy has on so many of us until last summer.  During a stay in Washington DC I took my sons to the Koshland Science Museum.  One of the interactive exhibits asked people to write down their biggest dream; as I browsed through the answers I was shocked to find so many entries about visiting, touring, and even moving to Italy.  I realized at that moment I was one of the lucky ones who was actually living the dream.  I also consider myself a realist and I know that even if you think you are living the dream, there are some days when you can have a nightmare or two...

Have you read the news about Italy lately?  You'll see words like "crisis, strikes, decline.."  What is that all about?  Italy is as wonderful as it is complicated, you can choose which side to dwell on, but you still have to live with both.

If you are visiting Italy (read this first!) you can concentrate on the beauty, the art, the wonderful cuisine and the wine.  But if you are moving there you do have to open your eyes completely and see the reality of the daily life.  Here are some pointers that will make your move a little less complicated:

  1. Learn the language, learn the language, learn the language!  Your experience will be completely different if you can communicate and eventually meet local friends.  The Italian language is beautiful but its grammar is very complex.   Any time you put into it will pay off at the end.
  2. Change your mind set.   Easier said than done.  Take the time to observe, and absorb the culture.   Read about it (I personally recommend "As Romans Do"by Alan Epstein), watch Italian films, get to know the local idiosyncrasies...  Do as the locals do (if you insist on finding eggs for breakfast you'll be disappointed, if you change to coffee and cornetto, you'll find yourself in the right place all the time!)
  3. Be patient!  Everything happens at a different pace over there.  Slow down and enjoy the vino!
  4. Make connections.  In Italy you're a stranger or you're family.  When you first get there you'll be a stranger, it takes time to make connections, start with your local market vendors, practice the Italian you've learned, be patient.  Try to go the same stores so the clerks recognize you and  you'll eventually become family.
  5. Enjoy your surroundings, if you are having a bad day, go for a walk around town and it will remind you of the reason you moved there in the first place.
  6. Look for a support group.  Find other expats in your city, they know what you're going trough and can help you when you hit a road block.
  7. Take it easy!  Rome wasn't built in one day.  And your life in Italy won't be either.  Italian bureaucracy is known for being complicated beyond belief and just the fact of  moving can be very stressful, so take it easy!
  8. Travel! Even after you settle in one city, there are 20 very different regions in Italy.   Venture out to the not-so-touristy ones.  See as much as you can, they are all wonderful!
  9. Stop comparing!  There is nothing helpful about comparing your new life to your old one.  If you moved there with children, read this! One Easy Think you Can Do to Help your Kids Adjust to a New Culture.
  10. Be patient!  The first year it's all about settling in, if you survive it you passed the test, you've made it! Every time after that will be a bonus.  

I hope these tips can help all the serious Italophiles have a better reality when they get to live the dream.

Arrivederci for now,

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