5 Things I Love About Being an Expat in Italy
While not everything is pasta and prosecco in my new life in Italy, I am adjusting to being an expat. And there are few things I really like about that!
1. People Are Curious About Me
I don't always like being the center of attention, but I know if I go to an event with all Italians, I will be center-stage.
Mostly they're curious about why I came to Calabria, since there aren't many Americans here. I've got my answer down pat: "Calabria is beautiful! I love the sea, the food, the wine, the language, and of course, the people!"
That always gets a smile!
And being single as an expat also generates some head-scratching in this very conservative country where women don't tend to travel by themselves, let alone move abroad alone! I look at it as a teaching moment to show them that women can do anything they set their minds to!
2. I Can Embrace My Foreignness
In the U.S., I never felt like I truly belonged. I don't know why that is. But now that I'm here, I'm already accustomed to feeling a little on the outskirts of things, so I'm not suffering the way someone who might always feel connected to others might feel.
I've let go of trying to become native; I never will be. I will always be L'Americana, and I may always have a strong American accent when I speak Italian. And that's okay.
3. There's Learning Opportunity Around Every Corner
One of the reasons I wanted to live in Italy was to go deeper into the culture.
I'm writing this a few days before Easter, which is a great example of what I'm learning about. Easter is a huge holiday here; on par with Christmas, I'd say. There are local traditions, parades, and rituals that vary from one town to another. There are special desserts. And there's even this special doll, the corajisima, who represents the widow of Carnevale (Mardi Gras in the U.S.). After the revelry of Carnevale, she represents the austerity of the Lenten season.
4. I Have a Different Perspective of the U.S.
I'm not sure if my perspective is more positive or negative than it was when I lived there, but I definitely don't feel America is the center of the universe, the way Americans tend to feel. I see headlines about what's going on, but it's in passing, rather than the center of focus for talking heads 24 hours a day.
When I visited the U.S. for the first time after moving, I was so keenly aware of how everyone was on the phone in the airport talking about work. Work?! Why? Can't you just be present in the moment? (I guess I have changed already!)
5. Everything is New and Shiny
It likely won't always feel like this, but right now I love everything. Even silly things like how slow Italians are at getting shit done. Okay, maybe I don't love that, but I am completely enamored every time I see the turquoise sea in the distance when I'm driving...
...when I find new yummy products at the grocery store...
....when I uplevel my Italian by speaking it for eight hours at a picnic!
I read somewhere an expat had described when her life stopped being her expat life and started being her life. I look forward to that point, because I imagine life will be easier, but I want to always appreciate why I moved to Italy.