Expat Advice: Culture Shock in
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?
No, but I took it upon myself to read up on culture, customs, and history of Florence and Italy. I have lived in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
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If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?
I tried to learn some italian before moving to Italy. I took Italian lessons once I got here. The italian style of teaching and speaking goes all over the place and spirals around the main idea you want to get across. My tutor taught in this same manner and I got frustrated and quit after 3 months. I learned more on my own with a dictionary and trial and error on my own. Am I anywhere near fluent.... heck no! ....but I get by now.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
No, I expected Italy to be a fairly easy transition compared to other places I had lived. I was also aware of the stages of culture shock and expected to still go through them.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Awful! I was basically dropped here by my employer and expected to find housing, get a bank account, health care, etc. on my own. Only when my attempts failed a few times would they find a way to send somebody to help. Nobody affiliated with my work is really interested in helping new comers much. Most foreigners are married to Italians and just worry about their own lives. When asked for help, they usually have a million excuses to not be available. These people are very friendly, but not willing to help.
Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?
I had so much difficulty initially settling in that I never experienced a honeymoon phase. I have been frustrated from day one.
Every day is a challenge here. Italians make things much more difficult than need be. It's almost like they intentionally do it to foreigners here in Florence. I am here almost 2 years and leaving in June. I have never gotten out of the irritation, frustration phase.
What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.
All of the above and experiencing depression like never before. Most foreigners here are married to Italians and there is no real expat atmosphere. It has been very isolating. Sure, I have my regular group of friends to go and do things with and I get out and have fun, but it is a small group and, quite honestly, this town gets stale quite quickly (unless you're a barfly). I have done quite a bit of reading since I have been here.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Italians love to be outdoors and there are often outdoor markets and festivals to go to. Italians dress very well and they are amusingly stylish and make for great people-watching at any time. Small shops are great for establishing a regular rapport with owners. A medieval building with modern decor inside is always amusing. Florence is a place where you can walk around and actually picture what life could've been like in medieval times. The countryside is beautiful and definitely picturesque. The wine is fantastic and sitting in cafes can be a leisurely past time. Sitting in ancient piazzas and seeing beautiful works of art can be breath taking. I do like the shopping here as well.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Most Florentines are not friendly and do not care for foreigners. Nothing here has to be as difficult as they actually make it. If it's not Italian, it's not as good. Italians have a lot of pride in themselves and are some of the most arrogant and racist people I have ever met. They are also the most self-centered I have ever encountered....Italy starts with I! If there is a line, one will always jump to the front and ask questions, etc. There is no consideration if there are people waiting behind them, they will take their time to get their stuff done first (b/c it's all about them :0)) Itlians are VERY loud and unaware of when they are yelling in your ear or on their phones in a contained public space (ie bus, office, etc.). There are museums, cafes, restaurants and shopping; however, after a month or two, the novelty wears off. I prefer big cities and a wide variety of entertainment options. Florence doesn't have this.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Drinking cappuccino after 1pm, not having coffee after dinner, wearing my gym clothes outside of the gym, trying to flag down a taxi (call or go to stands instead).
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
If you like cities with a variety of culture and entertainment, skip Florence as a living post. Visit here and you'll love it. Living here (for me) has been very challenging and cold.
On the Italy Expat Forum
Moving to Italia
I've been reading the posts and just joined the site as a member. We expect to move to Italy as soon as our house sells (July?), and have a lot of Qs. Any advice anyone can give is greatly appreciated.
First, some background in order to forego other preliminary questions. Wife is Italian, dual US; I am US only. Married 25+ yrs; registered with comune since 1993. Both 62+ yrs old. Moving for retirement to her hometown of Padova, where family lives. We intend to stay with them until we buy a house (apt, condo, ?), ASAP, no mortgage. Retirement income is limited to SS. Savings are not unlimited. Coming from California.
Now for the questions:
1) We might need a 20-ft container, max. Who is the best shipper at the cheapest price? Destination ports say Livorno (closest), but why not Mestre (which is geographically closer)? Since we don't yet have an address (staying with family until we buy), will the shipping company store the items until we send for them? At what cost?
More importantly, will I have to make wooden crates for our items in order for them to be stored in a company warehouse? Is it easier to buy my own shipping container and pack it for storage and later shipping? Are there any problems with that line of action? (ie- insurance, actually getting someone else to ship MY container? etc?). Seems like it would be easier all around, but what does one do with a used container in Italy?
2) I will need a PdiS. I can get that after arrival, if I understand correctly. Is my understanding correct? It seems like there are time limits (8 days) that may or may not apply to me as the spouse of a citizen. ???
3) My wife is on US Medi-Care, but I am not. Am I entitled to Italian healthcare as the spouse of an Italian citizen? Do I need my own health insurance instead? Current rules say that I must continue to pay for US Obamacare coverage for 9 months after departure from the US, which is stupid since I will not be able to use it at all. Any ideas on that? Also, can my wife, who will probably never return to live in the US, quit her Medi-Care without financial or other penalty? Also, since I may not be covered, can I at least get my US-over-the-counter meds through an Italian pharmacy without any problems? Seems like it should be easy to do, but . . .???
4) Does the restriction on importation of "art" include original items? Both of us are artists, with plenty of proof. Can we bring our own artwork with us without incurring import fees? Seems like we could so do, as ordinary (to us) household items, but Italian rules sometimes define their own path. Some of the art is large; one wants to avoid complications.
5) I have owned the same 70-yr old motorcycle for 37+ years but never had an original bill of sale (from my brother). There is plenty of proof (title, registration, etc). I ride it regularly to this day (proof of current registration and insurance). Can I bring this over without that "original bill of sale"? Is it now an "antique" subject to added fees? Or does the word "antique" only apply to art? Are there any other financial considerations that require attention? Are there any other considerations that are not financial? I don't wish to pay more in fees and other requirements than it is worth, so I am talking about admin fees, import duties, annual registrations, mechanical check-ups and other requirements like that. I can guarantee that it is not up to modern standards because it was made before modern times. We will not be bringing any other motor vehicles. If it is burdensome then it will stay here. But just in case, can I put it into the same shipping container (inside its own crate, of course) with the household goods?
6) We will bring 4x cats. Once we get the required documentation here, are there any barriers on that side? Does each cat require it's own shipping container? (seems like it would be a good idea even if not required, but I don't know that answer). Are there any things I should know about particular airline treatments for animals? (ie- who to avoid?). Any other info on how to bring those furry family members with us? Note: one cat is 19 yrs old; leaving her behind is the equivalent of an immediate death sentence, bringing her with us is only slightly better than that. I would bring her. Suggestions?
7) What to bring? No appliances, TVs, or lamps are coming with us, but what about a copier/scanner that is wired for both US and EU? Modem? Wi-Fi router? I understand there is an import duty on those electronic items. True? What about tools? I have a few electrical tools that are all US (saws, drills, etc). Ignoring the different electrical cycles (60 v. 50), should I buy a voltage transformer and just burn them out on the cycles? Seems cheaper than selling them for pennies here and buying brand new EU tools that may outlast me. Thoughts? What about pneumatic tools? Are the couplings different such as would require adaptors (remember: US threads on US couplings, the solution to which is to bring adaptor hoses with US couplings at one end and EU (metric thread) couplings at the other end). Also, I tend to work at home out of a garage. Is this a problem in Italy? Do Italians do this sort of thing? One wants to be a good neighbor. While this is almost expected here, it may not be so there. Is it even allowable to work out of one's garage, making noise and dust and such? I am not talking about a home-business such as would invite a visit from the Guardia di Finanza, but just making things. Advice?
I think that is all for now, but there is sure to be more. Any info is greatly appreciated, even if only to one part of my many questions. Thanks in advance. Henry.
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Documentation needed to sign up for National Healthcare
I know that I will need to bring certain documentation with me to the Sanitario to sign up for National Healthcare. I believe I need my residency document, codice fiscale and identity card. I know the amount you pay is based on your annual income from the previous year. Does this mean that I need to bring a tax return dcoument to show what my earnings are from 2017 so they can make that determination? Also, I have heard about a "Stato di Famiglia" document to register family members. Am I correct to assume if you are single without other family members to insure then this document is not needed? Thanks for your feedback.
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