Believe it or not, there is a dark side to life in Italy and it has less to do with the lack of clothes dryers than you might predict. Everyone tends to think about the positives when moving to Italy and I fully encourage that, keep your thoughts on the sunny side of the street and I guarantee you will succeed. However, I do not guarantee that you will be blissfully happy without interruption. I do not guarantee that there won’t be hard moments or challenges because that’s what I want to address in today’s post.
If you’re reading this post and thinking of moving to Italy, I want you to really be honest with yourself about the move because it is not going to be a wee bit harder than you expected, it’s going to be a shit ton harder than you expected. The number one thing you must be prepared for is feeling isolated. Feeling isolated is something no one talks about or they talk about it when it’s already too late and return tickets have been booked and damage deposits requested. YOU ARE GOING TO FEEL ISOLATED. And it’s not a fun feeling. You are going to feel like the outcast in the cafeteria, the one no one wants to sit with. Over time, you might even make it to the cool kids table but there will be moments that you don’t understand the conversation, where you laugh along with their jokes but you’re really thinking to yourself “I didn’t get it….”. There will be times you're a first-generation immigrant at lunch and everyone is sneering at the strange ethnic food your mom packed for you, laughing at anything that doesn't resemble a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a juice box.
This is not only a language thing even though language is a huge part of it. It is unfortunately also a cultural thing, you must be prepared to be put in situations you’ve never had to react to before and you’re not going to know where to step. You’ll fall a lot and not only literally on the cobblestones that seem to devour expensive high heels for lunch. You will make friends and you might lose some. You might start off with celebrity status like many expats do, only to lose favor as your newness erodes like Paris Hilton’s popularity. Or it may go the other way, you may wiggle your way into the hearts of the locals after days, months, or years. So what is the take home message today you ask?
All I am saying is that Italy is worth it if you want it to be but please come prepared with the idea that you will have moments of desperation too, just like any non-expat would, because life is life wherever you are and Italy is not a magical cure that rids life of rain clouds, static cling, and that hysteria-inducing moment when there's still some prosecco in your glass and the waiter takes it away. Nope, Italy is not the magic cure. Italy is just the provider of tools to enjoy it to the max and not everyone knows how to use what she gives you and that's ok too. Maybe you need another country/language/culture's tools and my wish for you is that you find it.
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