Last night as my mom, niece, and I were leaving a restaurant (Italian, mind you), my mom stopped to talk with one of her former coworkers who happened to be seated nearby. My mom introduced me and mentioned I live in Italy.
“Why would you want to live there?” she responded.
I was beyond taken aback by the question. I know not everyone feels the desire to live and experience other cultures, but really? Why would I want to live in Italy? REALLY?
Completely baffled, I blanked but quickly blurted out, “Because I love it!” It wasn’t until later that I sat and thought about it. Of course I have lots of practical reasons I choose to live in Italy, including but not limited to the following:
- Paolo and all my fur babies
- Fresh delicious food (much of it from our own garden)
- The laidback lifestyle where I’m not pressured to have the latest gadget, iFillintheblank, etc.
- Living minutes from the sea and mountains
- Being surrounded by amazing history, culture, and beauty
- Pretty nice weather year-round
- How much healthier I feel since living there
But you know what? “Because I love it!” really sums it up best after all. It’s difficult to put my happiness and overwhelming sense of feeling I’m in the right place at the right time into words, spoken or written, but I know I feel it, and that is what’s important.
And as it turns out, that random, unexpected question really came at an interesting point during my first trip to America in nearly six years; I’m about two weeks in with another four to go, and I can honestly say I *know* I love (and miss) my life in Italy. There’s still a lot to process about this trip, but I’m grateful that I was pushed to explore at least some of that while I’m still living it.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly enjoying my visit in the U.S. — this crazy Coal Region will always be home — but I have a new home I love now too.
And that’s reason enough for me to live there.
P.S. Buon compleanno to my amore (31) and to Bleeding Espresso (3)!
Please welcome the lovely Tina of Tina Tangos for her thoughts on being authentic:
This is my fourth time being an “expat,” and my second time living in Italy. My first time living abroad, I was an au pair in Switzerland. I was 24 at the time, and I did it not only because I had always wanted to live abroad and wanted a different experience, but I also did it because I envisioned myself at dinner parties as a “grown-up” later in life, smugly saying, “When I lived in Europe…”
During my time in Switzerland, I had the chance to visit Italy several times. I fell in love with the streets, the architecture, the food. What fascinated me the most was the way people dressed and carried themselves when they walked, and the fact that their daily lives took place on this very soil. I wanted to live in Italy and I wanted to be one of those people.
Upon my return to the United States, I wore interesting scarves and pointy-toed high-heeled shoes and never left the house without my sunglasses. I would play Italian pop music on my Discman (yes, those were the pre-iPod days) and strut down the street as though I were in Rome and not Seattle.
Finally, in 2006, I got a student visa and went off to Perugia. On one hand, I flourished in a lot of ways and my Italian went through the roof. I felt free and whole. On the other hand, I was so impatient to mold the experience into how I had fantasized it would be, that I made a bit of a fool of myself, and it even affected some personal relationships.
Due to a matter of the heart, I ran away to Argentina. Living in Buenos Aires is what finally did it. It’s a tough, huge city where people have their own problems to worry about and aren’t concerned with you. I learned a lot about just doing what I needed to do, and I fell into Argentina’s daily life.
That’s when my Italian citizenship was finally processed. It’s also when my life fell apart in Argentina. My heart broke. Everything broke (even my bedroom door – it just fell off!) It’s also when a relative offered to buy me a one-way ticket to Rome. It seemed like all the signs were pointing me back to Italy. So, I went with the current, and here I am, in Perugia again.
I’ve been here almost two months, as an Italian. I realized the other day that it’s already the best and most authentic living-abroad experience I’ve had yet. And not just for the obvious reason of being able to legally stay here forever (which does help).
Why then? Because I didn’t force it to happen – it happened for me when I stopped swimming upstream. Not only that, after all that living, and after my Argentinean experience, I simply couldn’t care less about fitting in. I am who I am, and I’m proud of my experiences. My Italian has changed – I have developed a strange accent, I accidentally say Spanish words, and I forget to use “lei” instead of “tu” in appropriate situations – and people still embrace me.
It’s great to assimilate into a culture, and I highly recommend that you do – but I’ve learned that it’s also important to just be who you are, even if it isn’t the “norm” in your adopted country. The more authentic you are, the more your new home will embrace you.
Tina Ferrari is a translator, tango dancer and part-time writer based in Perugia, Italy. She writes at AffordableCallingCards.net, where you can buy affordable calling cards to Italy, as well as on her own blog, Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!
The Mystical World Wide Web says:
The Acorn has also been associated with couples and love divination.
Dropping two Acorns into the same bowl of water will provide the inquirers with news.
Should the Acorns float together then the couple will marry, the reverse being true if the Acorns drift apart.
So what does it mean when you’re out walking with your beloved, as P and I were about a month ago, and you stumble upon this–two acorns physically merged together?
Well today it means I’m missing my P big time.
Happy Love Thursday everyone and
Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans!
If you’re also my friend on Flickr, you may have caught these photos, but since my Facebook/Flickr connection doesn’t work well (or at all), here are some pictures from this past fall in Calabria:
Have a great week!
Are my fellow Americans ready for Thanksgiving?
Our love of ‘shrooms is one of the reasons we don’t really mind the rain here, since just after a good soaking, it’s time to enjoy the funghi . . . one might call it our Loveshroom Fest.Read on...