One of the beautiful things about social media these days is that it allows you to connect with like-minded people all over the world and for me, that means fellow ITALOPHILES who want to move to Italy. The most frequent question I get asked (I’m sure all the other Italy-based bloggers will nod heads in agreement) is: do you have any advice for the move? Well, as one might imagine, asking me that question is like opening a fresh bottle of prosecco on a Friday night…it means you’re in for an earful of my blabbing! That’s why I’ve decided to limit this post to a mere five things, that seems fairly manageable right?
LEARN ITALIAN TO A PRE-INTERMEDIATE/INTERMEDIATE LEVEL. This needs to be more of a priority for people. It always baffles me what gives people the impression that “getting by” with English and some Lonely Planet Italian phrases during a trip to Rome where you never ventured more than 500m from the Coliseum and essentially only had to order food and alcohol, followed by moving to Italy = sudden magical ability to open a bank account and hassle the TIM technician guys when your internet isn’t working for the umpteenth time. Italian learning needs to start happening one year before a move to Italy, minimum. And I highly recommend attending a course as opposed to self-learning, especially if you’re starting from zero grammatical base.
Here’s a quick snippet about the hours that usually go into getting to this type of level (taken from the blog, ikindalikelanguages.com where the author is referring to learning French):
A1 – 60 hours
A2 – 160 hours
B1 – 310 hours
B2 – 490 hours
C1 – 690 hours
C2 – 890 hours
"That is, about 900 hours and you are pretty much fluent in French by their standards. How much is that? That is 37 full 24 hour days. It is more reasonable to think that a person would study a language for three hours a day so it would take him around eight times that which is almost 10 months. If you double it to six hours a day, you can do it in 5 months. From my experience, it is very hard to practice the language more than that (and even that) in any given day, so if these estimates are any good, it is achievable and maybe realistic, granted you are living in a French-speaking country, to become fluent in half a year or so. If you are only aiming for B2 (B2 is pretty communicative) and you’re good, you can achieve it in 3 months."- Linas, How Much Time Is It Realistic to Learn a Language In?
CONNECT WITH SOMEONE. Anyone will do! Well, no that might be a little creepy but do connect with at least one or two people (fellow expats are ideal) who are living in or near your chosen city. This might be a friend you already know there, in which case, you’re lucky. If you don’t know anyone, try to join groups on Facebook, Meetup, InterNations, Tinder (hey, I’ve heard it can be VERY useful for getting local restaurant recommendations!) etc…you will absolutely need someone to ask the annoying questions to in the beginning. These people will be like your training wheels until you get the hang of things. If you’re moving for work, chances are, you’ll probably get to dive into an already established network of friends which can honestly be both a good or bad thing. Another great way to connect with other expats in Italy is through Instagram, you’re likely to stumble on the right accounts by searching hashtags such as #thisisItaly #italophile paired with #expats.
TALK MONEY. Check your finances. I would never advise moving to any foreign country on a whim (defined here as without an offer of work, a work transfer, or a sugar mommy or daddy!) without having savings set aside which would allow you to survive a minimum of six-months without working. If you’re work is transferring you, that’s different. If you need to move to Italy and find a job after the move (which is 99% of cases), you need the time and you need to have the money to buy yourself that time. Navigating Italy is stressful enough in the beginning without having to worry about where your next meal is coming from- you’ll need to learn so many basics from scratch again and be job-hunting at the same time. Be aware that if you’re not coming to Italy to work with a foreign company, salaries can be laughably LOW. It wouldn’t be unusual to hear things like 800 euro a month. An offer of 1500 euro net would be very much in line with the national average, even for professionals or workers with advanced degrees.
DO THE LEGAL WORK. It may come as a shock to many of you, but I’ve heard many a story of someone “moving” to Italy without first looking at the legalities involved with becoming a resident of a foreign country. A passport allows you to visit other countries, it does not contain your right to move, live, and work in another country. Depending on your nationality, you will need to look into document requirements for living in Italy. These can vary depending on the reason why you’ll be in Italy, whether you want to work, and how much money you have back home. Speaking very generally, most North Americans require a visa of some sort prior to coming to Italy. This visa is usually granted (but can obviously be refused as well should you not meet the criteria) while you are still in your home country and you enter Italy on it. It is then part of your application for your Permesso di Soggiorno upon arrival in Italy. Visas can take a long time to process as they require the usual paperwork and an appointment at the nearest consulate or embassy of Italy to you. That’s why you need to get started on it as soon as possible.
READ ABOUT REAL EXPERIENCES. If you’re reading this post, you’ve already got this one covered. You need to research and read about other people’s experiences in Italy and find some characters and voices that you identify with. It’s not useful to anyone to just read the Italy chapters of “Eat Pray Love” and think that living in Italy is going to be just like Elizabeth Gilbert’s three months. Three months is still just an extended vacation people. You need blogs like this one or any of the blogs on this fantastic list by Ciaone: The 10 Best Italy Blogs You Need To Follow and get a first-hand look at what it’s really like to navigate the ins and outs of expat life, most of the blogs on this list are extremely honest so you’ll find both the good and the bad in their posts!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like to "dare un'occhiata" at these ones or the Category "Moving to Italy":
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