Whatever the reason is that brought you to another country you’ve probably noticed yourself adapt to new situations and cultural differences in your new home that you’ve never had to experience before.
What did you do to not have a cultural meltdown? How did you try to avoid common problems suffered by expats? Which of your personalities rose above and kept you sane?
As an expat for over a year now I’ve meet many female expats who’ve learned to somehow figure things out. In Italy the bureaucracy is a nightmare. Overcoming painstaking obstacles to become a resident or citizen or even to get paid on time is not for the weary.
This post reflects my ‘expat in Italy’ experiences, but would love to know your point of view even if you’re in a different country!
In order to get your life together you have to do a lot of legwork before, during and after your arrival. You’ll never get a straight answer as to what to do next, where to go for which paperwork, whom to call when, etc. The path to living in a different country legally is a long bumpy road and everyone has their crazy story to tell.
You must investigate like crazy, become your own proper sleuth and look under every rock to make sure your paperwork is done correctly and in time. To not overstay your welcome you have to be your own attorney, be persistent with your inquiries and keep asking until you get the same answer twice!
This personality also comes in handy when figuring out which bank to use and even which cellphone company to sign up with.
Ah, the paperwork is a dream, isn’t it? We’ve all had to fiddle through papers and websites to understand exactly what’s needed. Are you married? Are you divorced? Are you a student? Have you committed a crime? (Actually, if you have let me know what the hell you did!)
You have to get all of your worn out ducks in a row and somehow act like you know what you’re doing. Being organized is one of the best personality traits. You know what you need when you need it, which of course can only happen once you’ve asked a million questions.
There’s no crying in baseball and definitely no crying as an expat. Ok, maybe a few tears of frustrations here and there, I’ll admit to that! However, this is the time to go out and meet people, learn new things and embrace your new life.
In my experience no one went out of their way for me, especially in the beginning. I reached out to many expats when I first moved to Florence and heard crickets from some. The close friends I’ve made here are heaven sent and hard to come by, both Americans and Italians.
Italians have told me that Florence is the worst place to make close friends, so imagine as an expat. You really have to take the bull by the horns.
At the end of the day you really have to have a sense of humor about all of this! I’ve read blogs where people end up crying at cell phone stores…and I’m one of them! It’s not easy to live somewhere with a new language, new rules, new culture, new cuisine, etc.
I’m not saying that I laugh off everything and never get frustrated. I actually almost broke down the other day because I’ve been waiting for medical results for months. When I called they got irritated and said the results take time, but 3 months had already passed. When my husband called they said that they had the wrong address. Mamma mia! Still waiting…
Your turn! What personality do you think is most crucial for any expat in Italy, or anywhere for that matter!?