My Top 10 Realizations After Being “Home” for the First Time in Nearly Six Years

In my post An American Expat in Italy Goes “Home,” I mentioned that I’d be posting a list of observations, so without further ado, here it is with some photos of “home,” the Anthracite Coal Region in Pennsylvania, thrown in for good measure:

My Top 10 Realizations After Being “Home” for the First Time in Nearly Six Years

10. I don’t like what clothes dryers do to my clothes. They’re *great* for towels and such, but actual clothes? No thanks.

9. It’s really hard to find healthy meal choices in U.S. restaurants that aren’t salads (which, if you don’t watch, can be more fat- and calorie-laden than, say, the steak).

8. Starbucks coffee is OK. I don’t love it, and I don’t hate it, but I definitely don’t think it’s worth the price.

7. Kids grow. FAST. And tall.

6. Having friends that you can see after five or ten years and pick up a conversation like you’ve never left off? Yeah, that’s awesome.

5. Christmas really isn’t the same without my grandparents.

4. I’d get way less work done in the mornings if I could just flip on talk shows. Man they’re addictive. Especially Ellen.

3. People eat out and/or order in a lot more than what I’m used to, which is next to never…and also most food in restaurants tasted *uber* salty to me.

2. On a related note, I really need to learn to make Chinese food.

And the number one realization after being “home” for the first time in nearly six years:

1. I wish my two homes were physically *much* closer together.

Expats, what do you notice after being away from “home” for a while?

42 Beans of Wisdom to “My Top 10 Realizations After Being “Home” for the First Time in Nearly Six Years”
  1. 01.25.2010

    Such a delightful post and particularly interesting to someone like me who is contemplating moving to Rome!

    By the way, I love your blog generally–not just today. You are a great writer and you provide a welcome window.

    Aw, thank you so much, Kay! Your kind words are *most* appreciated πŸ™‚

    .-= Kay Ballard´s last blog ..An Open Letter to Michele Woodward About Hotel Hair =-.

  2. 01.25.2010

    Nice list Michelle! I am fall victim to the TV talkshow often while trying to get work done. It ain’t easy I tell you. And I generally agree about all of your food realizations, but must confess to my Starbucks addiction. It isn’t coffee like you’d get in Italy, but I am guaranteed a good cup every time! It beats Dunkin’ Dog-nuts every time πŸ˜‰

    See I much prefer DD, although less so than I used to…I’m starting to really lean toward espresso every time πŸ™‚

    .-= My Melange´s last blog ..Photo Essay : Stunning Seaside Towns on Italy’s Mediterranean =-.

  3. Gil

    Great post as usual! I agree with you about the food you get when you eat out being salty.

    Thanks Gil! I was really amazed by that as I thought I’ve been eating way more salt here…perhaps not!

  4. I hear you on that last one!

    I knew you would πŸ™‚

    .-= Cherrye at My Bella Vita´s last blog ..Three Best-Kept Travel Secrets in Calabria =-.

  5. Anonymous

    I miss not being able to take my laptop to a caffe and stay there all morning writing.

    I miss American bacon, mimosas, and brunch.

    I miss living in a city where in one day I can see Asians, blacks, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, Buddhists, and Catholics all gathering together as equals at places like the movies.

    And the number one thing that I miss about home: having a workable iPhone with a strong and always present wireless connection! πŸ™‚

    Most of those actually don’t apply to me–I never did write/work in coffee shops (I find it distracting); I’ve never even had a mimosa (they got popular after I left the States); we can find bacon here and I make my own brunch; I don’t have an iPhone. Diversity is definitely a big difference, but that’s slowly changing here…and as I’ve commented elsewhere here, my day to day life isn’t much affected as I still communicate with all kinds of people online and don’t go out much…I think I’ve been to the movies twice in Italy in six years πŸ˜€

  6. I’m with you on wishin’ Italy and the US were a lot closer too πŸ˜‰
    And I have to ask you about that fishy mailbox?

    Just something I noticed on a photostroll one morning in my mom’s town. Couldn’t resist πŸ™‚

    .-= Lisa at Wanderlust Women´s last blog ..Frugal Friday Getaway Finds Wanderlust Women at America’s Oldest Winery =-.

  7. 01.25.2010

    Oh the food thing. Also restaurants are ridiculously expensive, and I am talking the Ruby Tuesday and Marathon Grill type places, nothing fancy. By the time you add the tax and tip, you are at least at 30-35 bucks for a (really good but really fatty) mushroom bacon burger, fries, small salad and Sam Adams on tap. I think that is a scam, but my perspective is waaaaay off from being on my hill too long. I would rather take the 35 bucks and buy real food, I think!

    I will also add that in trying to be a little healthier, I got one of the Weight Watcher specials at Applebee’s, something with portobello, some kind of sandwich…um…I shoulda just gotten the burger.

    .-= Diana Strinati Baur´s last blog ..The Ceramic Series: Kiln Result Roundup =-.

  8. 01.25.2010

    I can attest to all those observations! I however still tend to eat out often, but here in Napoli we have a chain of pizzeria’s called Mascalzone latino, which specializes in low cost pizza (2.50 euro at the min) and other snacks like arancini, crocche etc etc. I go there like 3 times a week.

    Starbucks to me was always a cross between the coffee here and in America, i drank it occasionally back home.

    here is something that I noticed…….I was in Rome yesterday meeting some friends of my father and for a few hours I felt like I was back in America. One observation I have and something that I don’t like is having a conversation with someone who is sitting next to you and isn’t looking at you for most of the conversation. I didn’t understand this in America and I still don’t. Italians are better in this area I think because they are overall more attentive and they look you in the eye. Not all Americans do this however, but yesterday was a reminder that too many have this tendency.

    One thing they did also yesterday was order coffee at the beginning of the meal! The conversation “expert” next to me told the waitress “a regular coffee with cream and sugar” . Coffee ordering is so different here!

    Regarding the looking around while talking, it may have been just because those people were tourists and trying to soak in as much as possible OR Americans just generally tend to look around for, as my friend in law school once told me, the BBD (bigger better deal) πŸ˜‰

  9. 01.25.2010

    When I was home it felt like the food had too many ingredients? Too much of everything thrown in and you couldn’t really taste what you were eating. That being said I was loving all the yummy Mexican food. I also LOVE my traveling tea. Going into my independently owned coffee shop ( I am not a fan of Starbucks) and taking my cup to go! Oh and things opened late and on Sundays!

    Agreed on the too many ingredients…and coffee shops in general really make me happy as well…as do “extended” shopping hours πŸ˜‰

    .-= Nicole´s last blog ..New Theme: monochrome =-.

  10. I didn’t go to the States for Christmas but my to parent’s house in the Caribbean so I wasn’t really “home” but I so agree with you regarding dryers!

    When I first moved here I missed them (and still do for towels and sheets) but I ended up asking my mom not to put my clothes in the dryer and hung them out instead. ha

    In St. Martin, with cable, they get all the NYC stations and quite a few America channels so I was very excited to catch Giada and Ina’s shows on the Food Network.

    Anon do you live in a small town? In Rome we have American bacon, brunches, mimosas and cafes with WiFi where you can sit and work on your laptop. I guess I do take those things for granted.

    Ooh I’m coming to Rome!!!!!! πŸ˜‰ Some American TV is definitely a nice thing; I thought I was spoiled with Sky until you go to America and realize just how much MORE is out there πŸ˜‰

    .-= nyc/caribbean ragazza´s last blog ..Guest Post – A Day In The Life Of An Expat In Perugia =-.

  11. 01.25.2010

    For us, it was the realization that we don’t need a lot of “stuff” to be happy. We lived in tiny furnished apartments and just enjoyed every day. I didn’t miss all the advertising that Americans are bombarded with from every direction. (I fear the day when billboards will have my name on them!) Portions in restaurants in the states are enormous – it’s no wonder there are so many overweight people. That’s another thing I noticed – more overweight people at “home.” The freshness and seasonality of food in Italy. Here you can get anything anytime but it is more special when it is not available all the time. Tomatoes have no taste “home” Cheeses are not nearly so fresh. Cheap good wine. Gorgeous scenery, ancient history, the people. But I did miss being able to have in depth conversations – our Italian was “good enough” for most things, we made friends and managed just fine but understanding was a challenge. I know we would have improved had we stayed. But the biggest thing that we have here that we don’t have there is our family! Especially our son and daughter and our granddaughter. Like you, I wish Italy was closer to “home”!


    Thank you for sharing your impressions, Rosemary; definitely the idea of living with less stuff is appealing to me as well…in fact, I have a lot of storage to clean out still….

  12. 01.25.2010

    Wow, that Diana Bauer can eat a lot!

    I actually ate only ethnic foods when eating out when I was in the US last spring. The rest of the time I cooked, and was disappointed in the quality of some ingredients. OTH, I could buy 10 bras in 10 minutes, whereas here I have to use a calculator.

    Bras…yeah…definitely a big difference there (literally). I barely cooked at all while I was there…thank goodness for Mom πŸ˜€

    .-= Judith in Umbria´s last blog ..Thai curried shrimp =-.

  13. 01.25.2010

    it’s not the talk shows that get me but all the great blogs and recipes to discover online each day. Oh yeah, don’t let me forget the crafting sites too!
    I am glad you had a chance to visit. How often do people in Italy go out to eat? Is that common or are we Americans fat and spoiled-like I even have to ask. Sigh.

    Yes blogs can definitely be a time-killer! I don’t know how often *other* people go out to eat in Italy, probably MUCH more in cities than in small towns, but here, for example, most of the restaurants basically serve what we make at home, so why go out to get it, you know? We’ll go out in the summer for fresh seafood and also for pizza, which is just better in restaurants b/c of their amazing wood ovens, but other than that, it’s really not worth the expense for us.

    .-= michelle´s last blog ..Gadgets for my kitchen =-.

  14. 01.25.2010

    I just wish it didn’t cost so much to fly back and forth. Then we could visit more often. But, despite some stuff I miss, I won’t move back.

    That’s pretty much where I am too, Mary.

    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Dear Diary… =-.

  15. 01.25.2010

    I miss living with people of a wide variety of ethnicities. I miss that a lot!

    As I commented to Michelle somewhere on here, I guess since I’m not an “in person” kind of girl, I don’t really feel my life is much different regarding people of different ethnicities/religion…I’m still connected with them online like I always was. I’m really quite antisocial! πŸ™‚

    I do not agree with you on the dryer issue…bring on the dryers!!!

    To each her own πŸ™‚

    I do not miss the superficiality of the American phrase “I’ll call you” which actually has little or no connection to an actual intention to call you!

    Hmm I think this is pretty much the same in Italy too, if not worse, but I’m sure it’s just the type of people you’re around in both countries that make the difference.

    I miss US pop culture and easy access to “alternative” media. But that’s getting easier to resolve with the internet!

    I would’ve said this a few years ago, but now I feel pretty much in the loop–as much as I want to be, I suppose.

    What I really notice is how “Italian” I have become and that I am not a plain old American anymore, not at all. And while that’s okay, it’s weird when it first hits you. I’ll never forget the first time a non-native speaker I was chatting with during a visit to the US asked me, “and where are *you* from?” LOL!

    That’s too funny. Yes I think it’s impossible to stay “plain old American” while living outside the country. Always an adventure πŸ™‚

    .-= saretta´s last blog ..Carabiniere Station =-.

  16. Well, I am now back “home” for good and I miss being in Italy as much as I missed being in the US when I was an expat πŸ™

    I have come to the realization that though most Italian restaurants did not have a high chair for our daughter they were much more child friendly than most of the US restaurants that have them.

    I only use the dryer for the heavier cotton stuff, I brought my drying rack back from Italy and I really miss putting it on our balcony

    That even when I cook something exactly like I used to in Italy it will never taste the same unless all my ingredients came straight from there….tomatoes and cheese are just not as flavorful! πŸ™

    That I missed having real Mexican food, while in Milan, we found some places that served texmex and some that served decent fajitas but none ever served any decent tacos…also when I tried to make them at home I had a really hard time finding corn tortillas.

    that I miss going to the Mercato

    That I would love to live in Italy again, this time it would be perfect if I could just bring all my friends and family with me πŸ™‚

    Interesting on the high chair thing; not being a parent, I really don’t have any experience with that, but I’ve heard people say that Italy is just more child-friendly in many respects. Very true about the ingredients, and I really do feel sorry for people who love Mexican; it’s not easy to recreate here. I’m not really into it, so I do OK on that one…but yes, family and friends with me…much better!!!!
    .-= Cecilia Escobar-O’Dell´s last blog .. =-.

  17. 01.25.2010

    When home in the US the first thing I do right off the plane is head to my favorite Korean/Japanese restaurant for sushi and japchae. In the following days I cover Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese, Indian and American brunch places.

    I actually don’t eat all that many different ethnic foods so I think this probably affects me less than others. I just make my own brunch πŸ™‚

    I must say I don’t notice anything oversalty. This may have to do with the fact that I live in Tuscany and often find dishes here very salty, I think they oversalt to make up for the saltless bread.

    That’s interesting; overwhelmingly people have agreed with my impression on this…I’m kind of afraid to eat in Tuscany now! πŸ˜‰

    I miss access to these foods so much… I have learned how to make most of them at home, but they are often time consuming and involve many ingredients that are hard to find. I really miss when I lived in NYC and could pick up the phone or even go on and they would appear at my door in a half hour!

    I definitely wish we take out/delivery here. That said, I’d probably use it way too much, so I’m surely better off. I can’t control myself!

    I support dryers whole heartedly and speedy washers that do a wash in under an hour as well.

    My washer has a 50 minute cycle…it’s the only one I use!

    I also miss easy access to whole grain foods in the US at stores like Trader Joe’s. I can only find a short selection here, and that gets old after a while.

    The only whole grain stuff I really eat I don’t have trouble finding here, I guess because I only require a short selection (I’m not very whole grainy) πŸ˜‰

    When in the U.S., I miss some Italian foods but most I can find, although they are pricey there, like fresh mozzarella in water. More than anything I miss the Italian wines at decent prices. On the other hand, in the U.S. I love the easy access to wines from the whole world, whereas here in Italy it’s really hard to find good Australian, Argentinean, Chilean wines. I miss gelato as well.

    I’m not big on wine or gelato, really, so I can be in either country on this one, and I’d be fine.

    I also second everyone’s comments about more diversity, I miss that sorely. Religious diversity especially.

    I think this affects me so little because I’m not a very social person, like meeting people in person a lot…I still have lots of diverse friends just as i always did, and we still chat over the Internet/on the phone just as always. This one isn’t so different for me, I guess.

  18. 01.25.2010

    I love your list as well, but I would like to add one more to it. The fact that everything is in walking distance in Italy is great. Here in the US, everything is spread out and walking to the store is not very practical.

    I stayed in a small town in the US, so there were *some* things within walking distance…far be it from most people to actually WALK there, though, at least from what I saw. I did though! πŸ˜€

  19. Charity Eremich

    This makes me miss you a lot.

    Aw <3 <3 <3

  20. 01.25.2010

    I recently went ‘home’ for two whole months, and lived to blog about it! Definitely, check on the Starbucks and salty food, and I loved my newfound freedom of ordering in.
    I’d also say, being able to return things at any store in any state was enriching, parking without the fear of being double-parked in wholly liberating, and, laughing out loud and applauding at movies with the rest of the audience was THE BEST! (But that may just be a New York thing…)

    Here are the opposite reactions:

    Thanks for sharing that post, Francesca! Great stuff πŸ™‚ I don’t drive or go to movies very often in Italy…or shop, really, to have to return things! But I can certainly appreciate your rationale πŸ™‚

    .-= Francesca Maggi´s last blog ..The Roman Calendar =-.

  21. 01.25.2010

    Hey Michelle,

    These posts about going “home” are really wonderful. It’s fascinating reading your comparisons. I can totally see and understand each one. That is why I keep coming back to Italy. I try and avoid so many of the things you mentioned.

    Coming back again in May.

    Happy new year!!

    Perhaps we’ll run into each other this time, Karen!

    .-= karen cole´s last blog ..ASEMIC MANDALAS =-.

  22. Lisa

    When I moved back to the US from Rio de Janeiro, I noticed how large everything… and everyone was. The silverware, napkins and plates were all large, and the food portions served in restaurants here in the US are more than a person should eat in one sitting. There were no “doggie bags” in Brazil and neither in Europe from what I remember.

    So true. I think I finished precisely one meal that I ate out while I was home…and it was the first one–a big juicy steak, broccoli, and a baked sweet potato after a LONG time traveling. Mmmm πŸ˜€

  23. Paula

    I agree with you over and over again …dryers are for towels, underwear, socks … I hang everything else. Healthy meals in restuarants … somehow they even manage to “fatten up” a healthy piece of fish. It’s way cheaper and healthier to cook it yourself. Starsucks, I mean Starbuck, well, I think you get my point. Kids do grow fast … even from month to month. Good old friends … I think that says it all !!!!

    See and you didn’t even have to move thousands of miles away to figure it out; smart girl πŸ˜€

  24. 01.26.2010

    Ha! I never got out of the habit of hang drying my clothes (only sheets & towels in the dryer and still, I hate how it screws up the sheets). This must be a universal thing for ex-expats!
    And forget eating out in the US – it is ultimately all junk food no matter where you eat if you count the fat and salt content. Too much of that “more is better” attitude has actually made everything awful.
    Starbucks so not worth it! I usa a moka pot at home and have a frothie thingie for milk and violΓ‘, for pennies = much closer to the real thing. Still, without the same water….
    You know I wish the two countries were closer too…..that way I could pop in sometime for a REAL coffee and a bilingual chat with the goats!

    Oh man would the goats love that! I do the same with coffee…moka pot and frothy thing πŸ˜€
    .-= anna l’americana´s last blog ..In Memoriam…. =-.

  25. 01.26.2010

    I hear you especially on the “food” and “salt” amount! And also the fact everyone has to eat out a lot! And the TV!!!!!!!! Oh man, addictive, stupid and time consuming…..yes, I hear you!!! But didn’t you enjoy walking into a big bookstore and breathing the fumes of all those new books in English? That’s what I love about visiting home.

    You know, I thought I’d enjoy that more than I actually did…I got there and the books were so much more expensive than what I could buy on Amazon or, even better, as an e-book, that I really didn’t enjoy it. PLUS they’ve closed down most of the bookstores where I’m from in the States (and the one that’s left is really nothing more than a bookstore–no coffee, etc.). All in all, a big letdown πŸ™

  26. 01.26.2010

    a few things I realize I miss every time I go home and then return to Italy again:

    well stocked stores which stay open after 7:30-8pm (last time I said something about not having my favorite ice cream before sitting down to watch the latest House, and my Mom was like “okay”, hit record on the Tivo, and out we ran, were back in twenty minutes, and didn’t miss a second of the show);

    if one of the kids is looking peekish, not having to check on Friday which “farmacia di turno” is open in our area so that we don’t get stuck on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning without some necessity;

    Chicago deep dish pan pizza, and in general the American “shared pizza” experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love a well made pizza like in Italy, but the American “pizzapie” is a completely different dish with some overlapping ingredients.

    All *very* excellent points, Jacques. Thanks for stopping by and sharing πŸ™‚

  27. 01.26.2010

    Hey! Very insightful list. I agree with most things, esp. about the food in restaurants. While I adored going to greasy spoons and getting a proper cheeseburger, other restaurants, esp. those slightly fancier chain restaurants served way too much food and put odd flavour combinations together, like chicken tikka chipotle. Too busy! But that said I appreciated the abundance of authentic ethnic restaurants. And as most people commented, I also miss seeing a rainbow of different faces, esp. children. It’s slowly changing in Milan but it’ll take another generation before people stop considering visible minorities as circus freaks or threats.
    When I’m back home I don’t like the fact that I have to drive everywhere. And I guess that’s why people put on those extra pounds. No exercise!
    I’m not crazy for Starbucks either but I love our Tim Horton’s coffee. You should try it next time you’re in Canada!
    I lived without a dryer for 10 years but now that i have one, I can’t live without it, esp. in the winter. It’s a godsend if you have messy kids!

    I’ve never been to Canada, but Tim Horton’s is certainly on my list for when I make it there! Dryers are *definitely* necessary with kids; I don’t have them, but I can absolutely see how they’d be essential. I don’t think I’d put *my* clothes in there…but perhaps we’ll see someday πŸ™‚

    .-= Milanese Masala´s last blog ..Sant’Ambrogio Winterlude =-.

  28. J.Doe

    It’s always interesting to me to read posts like this….of american expats visiting/moving to the US.
    Everyone’s experience is different but most people agree that the food in the US is just filled with chemicals and other unpronounceable ingredients. The food in the restaurants is rather tasteless but calorie, fat and salt laden so except for ethnic foods like Indian or Chinese, I cook at home. The foods I prepare in the US do not taste the same as they did while in Italy though because the ingredients are different….especially the panna. I miss Italian panna (da cuinare)
    Air conditioning – while a good thing – is way too strong here but I guess if you visited the US in the winter that would not have been an issue.

    The A/C wasn’t an issue, but the HEAT was. Man, was everywhere *hot*! I’m used to being able to wear a turtleneck and sweater inside the house on winter days, where our outside temps don’t drop below 40…over there, it was *way* too hot to dress like inside that even though it was 20 or less outside. STRANGE!

  29. 01.27.2010

    I agree with lots of the comments, wishing it was a two hour plane ride to friends and family, corn tortilla tacos , thai, etc etc food, Starbucks coffee doesn’t do anything for me, although I do like Peets…ingredients in the US don;t make the same food as here. I found eating out mostly over rated and over priced, but not always. I must say, that I truly dislike the large portions and you can always get in a doggie bag, yuck. You spend more, eat more or use all that packaging to either forget it in the fridge, or nuke it and it is never nice the next day, never. Everyone always makes time for me, but peoples lives are frantic and filled to the brim with activities. I am happy too that gift giving here is much more low key.

    So true on the doggie bags! It really never is good the next day and so many times it ends up thrown away…which means, yes, you’re paying for more food and you don’t eat most of it anyway. Silly. Ditto on the activities and frantic-ness, and also same on the gift-giving. Who knew north and south Italy was so similar? πŸ˜‰

  30. 01.27.2010

    Your list is very similar to mine. I think I have a sort of love-hate relationship with the U.S. I love being there to be with my family and shopping for stuff I can’t get overseas, yet I get bored very quickly. I miss the colors, smells and variety of the Middle East and always look forward to returning home. I do wish it was closer ( and much less expensive!), because the family part is the hardest and most lacking for me, living overseas.

    Totally with you, Yael, on the family thing; I wasn’t bored in the US though…*so* much activity going on all time. If anything, I was ready to come to my slower pace πŸ™‚

  31. Kristin

    And your #11, you need to come back in less than 6 years! πŸ™‚ And yes, I know, I know, us “americans” can get on a plane too!

    Damn that freaky snowstorm!

    Yeah I don’t think it’ll be so long this time before I’m back…hopefully not anyway!

  32. 01.27.2010

    Those are absolute truths… bella mia. One cannot live without Chinese food.

    I can tell you about the differences between Denver and Italy when I get there; as I haven’t been home to Italy yet.



    Hee hee…soooooon!

    .-= Wanderlust Scarlett´s last blog ..The Day Of Dreams ~ Dream Of Change =-.

  33. 01.28.2010

    I love #6. Always nice to have friends like that.

    Aren’t we lucky?! Thanks for coming by, Brian!

    .-= Brian H. ´s last blog ..10 Days European Motorhome Hire from Just Go (a great way to experience Europe) =-.

  34. 01.29.2010

    Hey there,

    # 10 – I definitely share your feelings re the clothes dryer. But I do miss it for fluffing up the towels.

    As a Canadian ex-pat living in Geneva, what strikes me 1st is always the space – in Switzerland everything is so close together!

    Highways – at home you can choose from any one of 16 routes to get from point A to B. In Switzerland there is 1 route. A little thing called mountains gets in the way

    At home you can turn right on a red light. In Geneva I would be getting a ‘lovely’ ticket for that one.

    And your # 3 – fast food & restaurant chains are abundant (as is salt)

    The fridge…. is it on steroids? You could fit 3 Swiss fridges into one American style fridge

    The grocery store – again size & choice

    And in Geneva, saying goodbye at the end of an evening is just a jumping off point for a new conversation. It can take an hour to finally leave a friend’s house, sweet!

    Have a nice weekend

    Haha, so much of that is true for Italy too! And *so* very true on the fridge…I think Paolo would faint if he saw the “normal” fridges in America…thanks for coming by!

  35. 01.30.2010

    …and when you get older, then all this stuff you accumulated or inherited can become overwhelming. Now, it’s time to have less, not more.
    The crime rate here in Albuquerque seems to be increasing. Last week, someone brought a hand gun into the movie theater and it went off hitting a woman in the ankle. We live in a time filled with turmoil and uncertainty. Today, was the 3rd lock down in a school in one week. Lot’s of unstable nut cases out there.
    We had our 6th bank robbery so far this year.
    I am missing family and friends in NY, as well as the sounds of the ocean. Not to mention all the great food in NY. Especially fresh seafood.
    But, the mountains here look beautiful after all the snowfall.

    That is scary, Rosina! Hope you can get back for a visit soon…when the weather is nice πŸ™‚

  36. 01.30.2010

    Most of my clothes have never seen the inside of a dryer either.
    The mailbox pic is amazing!
    Waving at you wildly from New York Bella
    Send Mom my best πŸ™‚

    Thanks Frances! Mom says hello as well πŸ™‚

    .-= Frances´s last blog ..Contest at the daytrippers photoblog =-.

  37. 02.01.2010

    Great list Michelle! You’ve definitely covered many of the things I noticed!

    One thing that struck me upon returning to the States from Italy was the nearly obsessive commitment to customer service that you find here! Everything is super easy, hotlines are open 24/7, stores are open until 8PM, and so on. On the flip side, I am constantly having to turn down offers to get an extra this-or-that for only $.99 cents more. That constant upselling is a bit annoying!

    I’ve had a good run with Italian customer service lately so I won’t say anything to jinx it *and* I also got ripped off in America when a cashier *assured* me a discount had been taken off when it hadn’t been…but yes, the overselling is definitely annoying, all that supersize stuff is getting contagious!

  38. 02.02.2010

    Even though I’m originally from the other side of the pond, I found myself agreeing with nearly everything! The food I completely agree with, every time I’ve gone home since I moved to Italy I’ve been amazed at how unhealthily Brits eat, and how easily available junk food is. And it’s shocking to really *realise* how much we drink too, it was like I was seeing it from an foreigner’s point of view, it really was an eye-opener. When I went home for Christmas I felt very out of place at times, it was nice to come back to Milan!

    It’s a really strange feeling, isn’t it? Being away really does give you a new perspective…thanks so much for coming by and sharing your observations!
    .-= Nerys´s last blog ..A Beginner’s Guide to Italian TV – Part 2 =-.

  39. 02.28.2010

    Michelle, I live your opposite life, Italian living in the States.

    I went to Venice for Christmas and I had the best of time. And nothing can beat being with old time friends and starting exactly where you left. No time has passed.

    Another realization, and that could be number two is the warm feeling I got when my kids were playing with my childhood friends’ kids, coming full circle, just amazing.

    I not only wish my two homes were closer (I live in CA), but that I could pick the best of the two worlds and combine them. Americans don’t have the same sense self deprecating humor Italians have, but Americans are much more respectful from a civic standpoint.

    I have two friends coming to Calabria, they bought a house there. I will ask them where.


    Yes, definitely let me know where they’ll be Laura! And again, thank you so much for your message πŸ™‚

  40. 04.01.2010

    I’m glad I found this post, you see in a 12 days to be exact I’m going home IOWA for the first time in one year. And funny enough that I was just mentioning to my sisters how I miss Mom’s cooked meals. the chile con queso, quesadillas. and starbucks although if I have been without it for all this time, I think I can save my 3 dollars and buy more aguacates (avocados).LOL. I also miss my grandparents and we will be visiting them as well in Texas. and yes they do watch alot of talk shows, and novelas (soap operas).

    I was reading your profile and how exciting about your move, ..’tending to chickens, goats’ I love animals as well.

    ok enough rambling, I’m going back for more poking around your blog.

    Hope you enjoy your trip to the States, and thanks for coming over πŸ™‚

  41. Adrianne

    We just came back from a visit from the US and I’ve been thinking about this post off and on our entire trip. I missed the dryer and now I wholeheartedly agree that its awful (my what used to be black pants do to). The first year of being here is rough, nothing ever prepares you for that lol. I admit there were a lot of times and about 6 month period where I was ready to pack it up and leave. But as we got closer to going back to the US I didnt want to go lol.

    And it was so hard not to compare everything to how it is in Italy. The food is so much better quality in italy, my baby had a rash, nothing major just little bumps on her arms the entire time we were in the US and it didnt matter what kind of food we bought it wouldnt go away. Now that we are back its almost gone.

    Its such a different feeling being back here this time around. The house still needs work, I know the winter is coming soon and the mosquitoes are still out, but I think going back to the US was the best thing we could have done to be more satisfied (even though I was already getting there) about our move to Italy. Sure we had fun with the fast food and the huge grocery stores and being able to find everything we wanted at one quick stop.

    But nothing compares to the sense of belonging that I get being here.

    michelle Reply:

    This is so lovely, Adrianne; thank you for sharing. It’s funny how sometimes when you finally get a chance to enjoy some of the things you think you miss, you find out they weren’t all that great begin with . . . I’m just about due for another trip back myself. We’ll see πŸ˜‰

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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