Wander(lust) is available on Amazon worldwide.
Click here to see it on the US site.
I’m the only daughter of a hybrid parental set of a first generation Chinese-Canadian and an immigrant father. Growing up, we were given every opportunity and conceded every material whim, I can truly say we didn’t want for anything and I know I can only thank my mother and late father for that. However, being (half) immigrant parents, they were also very insistent that I strive for success. First, success was in school so I was the perfect Asian stereotype of studiousness. If you brought home 99% on an exam, my mother was the kind of person who would ask you where the 1% went. I wouldn’t call her a helicopter parent or a tiger mom in the traditional sense. She instilled in me the drive to be the best person I could. I wasn’t only locked up in my room until I became a doctor/lawyer (yes, should be read doctor-slash-lawyer, in the sense of both those things simultaneously). I was enrolled in competitive dance, was part of swim team, debate, yearbook, and in my final year of high school, in addition to a full AP course load, I also submitted an AP fine art portfolio. I wanted to be a million things but Asian parents always think there’s only one possibility. No matter how talented of an artist you are or how much you love English literature and creative writing, those are all endeavours to be pursued as hobbies. So off to university I went, taking biology and organic chemistry and all the pre-requisites for medicine. Languages were the one indulgence I gave myself, starting with Russian which I intended to become fluent in. But somewhere between my third year of university and the rest of my white-picket-fence life, I met an Italian boy who made me dream of a dolce vita. I gave up the medicine idea and decided to do a “faster” pharmacy degree which would act as my Plan B should my Italian affair come to an abrupt and unexpected end sometime down the line. Yet through all the science-saturated semesters, I never lost my love of writing and reading. I devoured books like they were going out of style (turns out they were). Some people might wonder what the point of essentially becoming a pharmacist was if I was just going to pack up and move to Italy and never dispense another drug again. Turns out, it’s true you can never be overeducated or overdressed. I ended up needing that degree to apply for an EU Blue Card, essentially a work permit for highly-skilled professionals. That card let me stay in Italy on my own. It meant I could stay with or without a man, with or without the help of anyone except my very own merit. To this day it’s still one of the things I’m the most proud of. Starting “over” is daunting and in order to cope, I turned back to what had been delegated “hobby” status: writing. I started this blog in 2014, writing for myself and to keep friends and family updated. There are posts from my very best days in Italy and the very worst days of my life. I’ve mourned the loss of home and my father here. Despair and joy have poured through my fingers and into a Word document. I’ve celebrated here. The tiny victories in the evolution of language learning and the huge victories like when I passed my Italian driver’s license exam. Through it all, words saved me and at the same time, they somehow found you. Readers. The most important part of any story. So that’s why I’ve written this post today. To take you back to beginning so you’d know how I got here, to the release of my very first book. I’d like you to know, if you’re reading this, that your passions can become something tangible and that life may take you on some serious ups and downs and to places you’d never think you’d ever go. You might stray way off the path that you had set for yourself like I did but maybe you’re actually headed towards something even better. This book is my wildest dream come true. It’s been a labour of love and I’m so proud to share it with you. I hope that you’ll read it somewhere beautiful with a glass of something strong and that you will find a bit of yourself in it and you’ll remember that time in Paris, in Rome, or wherever you’ve been or dreamed of being. Thank you, dear friends. I’d like to raise a virtual toast here- to adventure, may it find you and may you embrace it like a long-lost friend.
Wander(lust) is available on Amazon worldwide.
Click here to see it on the US site.
Hi everyone! We would like to welcome you to the September #Dolcevitabloggers linkup. The Linkup button below will be available from Sunday 22nd September and open for one week.
Remember that this linkup is for any Italy related blog posts or vlogs each month. The prompts below are purely to give you some inspiration should you need it.
We look forward to reading and sharing all of your submissions. We do comment on every post and share! So join in! We would love it if you can all comment and share each others posts too. Share the love!
How To Join
1. Follow your hosts on Instagram and/or Twitter to stay up to date about upcoming #DolceVitaBloggers news. We’re all about creating community, so we’ll follow you back too!
Kelly: Instagram: @kellysdolcevita Twitter: @italianatheart_
Jasmine: Instagram: @questadolcevita Twitter: @questadolcevita
Kristie: Instagram: @mammaprada Twitter: @MammaPrada
2. Write your post or film your vlog (in English or Italian) on anything Italy related. Include the Dolce Vita Bloggers badge (html code below for bloggers) and mention your hosts Kellyitalianatheart.com, Jasmine questadolcevita.com and Kristie mammaprada.com at the beginning of your post or vlog description.
3. Publish your post or vlog on your own site. From the third Sunday of the month for one week you can link up using the next step.
3. Link up! After you have published your post, Add your link to this months #DolceVitaBloggers linkup by clicking on the blue “add your link” button at the bottom of this post (it will sync with all hosts’ posts). Then your post will be added to the link up! (Here are some directions for how to add your post to a link up if you’ve never done it before).
I have only been ecstatic a few times in my life. The first was when I finished my pharmacy board exams. The second, when I was granted a Blue Card to work in Europe. But the third and most recent was the moment I was handed my Italian driver’s license. This post is not going to be an informative summary of how to get your license and what the steps required are. I didn’t feel this was necessary as there are many blog posts out there (some I will link below) that address the process extremely well. Instead, I will just provide a descriptive commentary on the experience, particularly of the practical exam, for your reading pleasure.
It was a sweltering August day, just more than a week before the mythical Ferragosto and I was part of the last group to undertake the practical exam before everyone was to go on mandatory hiatus from life. I decided to wear denim cut-offs, a bright pink T-shirt, and platforms. I know my footwear choice seems questionable and in fact, the other examinees were giving me the side eye as we waited, but for whatever reason I’ve found that it’s easier for me to drive a standard with heels. If you’re having difficulty, I suggest giving it a try in your best Jimmy Choos. Keeping the heel in contact with the floor of the car, you can use it as a point of leverage which eases your foot off the clutch and makes gear changes smooth as well as really helps with that dreaded “partenza in salita” (starting the car on a hill).
Much to my dismay, I was not the first student to go. I had arrived more than an hour early to do some last minute driving around with my instructor Beppe. What this really entailed was him ditching me to go for coffee with the examiner and other instructors and once we did hop in the car, we stealthily and in full Italian-style, followed the exam cars around to get a glimpse of what we were up against. This was further augmented by a phone call every 30 minutes where the other instructors would phone Beppe to give him a run-down of where they had gone and what the examiner had asked. When Beppe noticed my nerves, he told me that I could watch him during the exam and proceeded to explain the various “signs” he would give me during my parking: looking out the window = keep backing up, turning his head forward = stop, tilting to the left = you’re good to go! I have to say, I love this about Italy.
While waiting for my turn, I got more and more nervous as each teenage girl that hopped out flashed an “I passed bitches” smile. When it was finally my turn, I thought I would turn on the charm and compliment my Roman examiner on being from Rome. This was met with a one word answer and an eyebrow raise. I decided to shut up and drive. Not one soul talked to me after that, where they would have lunch afterwards was their main topic of discussion. After an “inversione di marcia” (I can’t remember the technical name for this in English but it’s that one where you turn your car around at a dead end by going forward, then backward, then forward again), a parallel park that was masterful, a mini partenza in salita where I almost stalled, and a quick loop around two roundabouts where I actually did stall momentarily for a millisecond, we were back at our starting point. No one said anything except for the Roman examiner who let out a cryptic “è bella decisa la signorina”. This was followed by more silence as he ruffled papers in the background and Beppe got out of the car leaving me solo with all the anxiety in the world and the Roman eyebrow guy. Finally I decided to turn around and peek at what he was doing and he handed me my license, fully printed and ready to go. He said nothing, not even congratulations. I wanted to hug and kiss him. I got out of the car and promptly hugged and kissed Beppe and resisted the urge to take a selfie as I thought that might look unprofessional. And just like that, it was over. Six months of agony later, I was holding what felt like Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket, the metaphorical key to a lifetime of happiness minus the lick-able wallpaper. As I walked shakily to the sidewalk, two 18 year old boys waiting their turn approached me for insider info that I happily divulged, flushed and running on an adrenaline I hadn’t felt since the time I went bungee-jumping. Once I messaged every single person I’ve ever known in my life, I sat alone a little bench, changed shoes and began the long walk home. I couldn’t help but think, in some corny way, how this entire experience was worth it. From the moment I hesitantly walked into the autoscuola to this one, I had successfully gone through a typically Italian rite of passage. I felt one with the Italian universe, in some way solidifying my feeling of belonging. Every person in a car I pass, I feel a kindred connection too. I did what you did. I’ve been there too. I sat in those crooked desks that aren’t kind to you if your BMI is not perfect, I read 300 pages of mainly superfluous information about vehicles I will never drive… I walked through that fire and came out and so I belong to Italy too.
Some excellent blogs about getting a driver’s license in Italy:
License to drive | The Florentine
Getting an Italian Driver's License - Tenuta San Carlo
How to get a driver's license in Italy: Part 1
How to Get an Italian Driver's License - From Italy, With Love
Italianista's Guide to Getting Your Driver's License in Italy
How to get an Italian driver's license - The Limonata Lounge
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned writer and wine drinker from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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