Today marks 6 months of living abroad. Can you believe it? Sometimes neither can I. It's been a whirlwind, but I'm so grateful for this amazing experience even when it's been tough. If you want to learn about what we did before we moved across the world, check out my post here.
Since moving abroad, we've been asked so many different questions about life in another country so I figured I'd compile them here to give you a taste of what it's like to be an expat.
P.S. Here's the one year abroad update - all aboard the struggle bus!
What has been the biggest challenge?
Luckily we had been to Italy several times before so I didn't experience drastic culture shock like the first time. During our first 6 week trip to Italy I cried every day for the first week which was super weird for me. The culture shock was so real and very unexpected as I like to think I'm an adventurous person. All that to say, it's not weird if this is you! Anyways, since we've moved here the biggest challenge for me has been the language barrier. Most people are incredibly kind and helpful which makes it easier, but I want to be able to make small talk with my barista and easily make friends. So while I've been taking classes each week, it's a SLOW process.
What do you enjoy the most?
Man, this is a tough one. I love the people, the food (hello delicious cheese, wine and pasta), the mountains AND the sea right outside my window. I enjoy experiencing a new culture because I feel like I've learned so much about myself and what I truly value in life while seeing the world through a new lens. I also enjoy that Europe has so much history. The architecture, the preserved ruins and all the little nuances you can find throughout are just incredible to me.
Do you have more opportunities to travel?
Absolutely! Traveling through Europe can be pretty cheap and since we're already over on this side of the Atlantic we can easily visit a place during the off season when it's quieter and less expensive. Though we will also be visiting locations during their peak season, like Switzerland in August (so excited!), and the Amalfi Coast during the summer; having the option to pop over to Paris for my birthday in November was so cool to me!
What do you miss the most?
FOOD! Yes, I love the food here, but I miss Mexican food, Cuban food, Asian fusion...pretty much anything that's not Italian. Also, bagels and iced coffee. I just freaking love iced coffee and while the cappuccinos are to die for here I don't really want to drink a hot coffee while I'm sweating my brains out during the summer months. If you happen to visit Salerno (which I 100% recommend, check out my restaurant recommendations here) Besides the food, I miss watching movies in an actual theatre. There isn't an original language cinema here and since our Italian is not advanced enough, we don't feel like it would be enjoyable.
What have you been learning?
Personally, I've really been learning that I value comfort and convenience. Adapting to a different culture has forced me to learn new things and honestly to not be as lazy which ultimately I think is amazing. Yes, it's super tough at times and I still get frustrated that it takes me longer to do things here, but it makes me appreciate home even more and allows me to continue learning and growing. Sometimes I just have to tell myself, it's not bad - it's just different. Though if I'm being honest, I do complain a lot and am working on that.
Being an expat in Italy has been the most insane experience of my life, but I wouldn't trade this adventure for anything. It has stretched me, challenged me, made my cry from frustration and anger, but it's also provided so much joy, personal insight and a plethora of memories. At the end of the day, it's definitely been worth it whether we decide to return after one year or not. I will look back on this experience fondly.