Living abroad in a foreign country like Italy can be utterly rewarding; no matter where you are in the world, you almost always can find at least one other expat to break out in English songs with at the karaoke bar. There's this other unspoken side of it all though, this underlying sense of friendly competition. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about if you're an expat- even though we're batting for the same team and cheering each other's homeruns, there is most certainly a sense of who is being the "model expat" or the "better expat". It's most noticeable in certain situations, like when talking about work, for example. If you're teaching English, meh, that puts you in the average expat category, we're all doing that in one way or another. Got another job that has absolutely nothing to do with your native language...brownie points for you. Then there's the blog universe- how committed you are to your expat blog, how hip are the places you get your morning cappuccino (my go-to is a teeny bar in the middle of the countryside, definitely not as cool as say Cappuccino da Marotin, via Archimede 59 in Milan), how attractive are your Italian friends (mine win, see above photo), how many locals do you really count as part of your inner circle etc, etc. The language struggle is understandably the worst, your expat friends are probably secretly judging your skills that were either exponentially "slower" or exponentially "faster" in acquisition time relative to theirs. It's almost impossible to not loathe those genius friends that just "picked up" the language as if it were an item available to buy at the local market. I hate those people who render useless my years of Italian pop quizzes. Just kidding, I love you, I just wanna be you. It's all about who can roll their R's with more flair, or speak more colloquially, or who knows more words of dialect. Truthfully, some friendly competition is good for the soul (and the language-learning), if your expat friends can't challenge you, who can? Let me know your thoughts if you're a fellow expat!
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Jasmine is a former pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.
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