This is an excerpt from my short story in the book "Once Upon an Expat" released last summer on Amazon. Definitely check out our book if you haven't had the chance yet, it's chock-full of stories that will make you want to move abroad and have your own expat moment!
I always considered myself exponentially more prepared than your average American expat in Italy and I certainly never bought into that “I’ll learn Italian by osmosis when I get there” concept they’ve been trying to sell us via the perfect vessel of Diane Lane in Under The Tuscan Sun. No sir, I applied myself- I took Italian in university alongside a wonderfully light course load called my undergraduate pharmacy degree, I religiously PVR’d every episode of House Hunters International that featured a strong female lead moving to Italy (forcing my parents to watch it as evidentiary proof that I wasn’t crazy and that other young women moved there all the time), and finally, I likely own every travel literature book ever written on the subject. I’m literally on my second copy of Marlena De Blasi’s A Thousand Days in Venice because I wanted that to be my life. I had done the dress rehearsal several times, and when I finally moved to Italy last year, it was not my first rodeo by any means. I was prontissima (the suffix emphasizes the word ‘ready’, equivalent in English would be ‘super, duper ready’). There would be no fooling me, no behind-the-back snickering as I unknowingly ordered a cappuccino after mid-day to accompany my Margherita pizza; I was well-versed in the cultural no-nos. Turns out, the most cringe-worthy expat moments tend to come when you least expect them, no matter how prepared you are. Mine came while I was waiting for the bus.
Now I know how to take a bus, in fact, I have stellar bus-taking capabilities and on this particular day just a few after my arrival in Italy, I had already expertly surpassed the initial foreigner mistake of not knowing that you have to buy your ticket before boarding the bus. Ha! So there I am, ticket in hand like a real Italian, waiting at the bus stop and smiling like a fool at my ingenuity. Eccolo (there it is)! My bus is rolling up. Imagine it slow motion like Richard Gere in the limousine, minus the flowers. I started walking towards it and zoom…it whips right past me!