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?
All we got from the company was a house hunting trip. Most you learn after you arrive.
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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?
We started Rosetta Stone before leaving. It's really best to have as much Italian as you can prior to going. Younger people do speak some English, but most people say they do and don't really. Beware if they say ok, ok - they may not get your intent.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Yes, I knew the living spaces were significantly smaller and wondered how I'd adjust.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Huge! It's like a 3rd. world country except for the cell phones everywhere you look. Lots of graffiti. Run down buildings. Many business still running with paper and pencil. Store closures. Limited shopping hours. The extreme heat without a/c in the summer - and the heat indoors anytime it's slightly chilly outside. The medical care - no records kept at your doctors office, no lists of your meds at the pharmacy so you don't get drug interactions. And don't get me started on services for special needs kids...
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?
Went from a few days of "honeymoon" to dying to leave.....It takes a good year is where everyone told me. I'm thinking it takes longer...
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.
Depression, homesick, definitely. Especially when the internet has iffy connections or when it took months to even get it set up.
The continual mold on the walls of the bedrooms-- that no Italian we met thought was a problem.
Anger at the continual bureaucracy where ever you go. The sheer amount of paperwork needed to come. And then being told much of what the Italian embassy told you in the US was wrong or not had an apostle or wasn't an official translation of your child's birth certificate.
Medical care -- waiting hours for an x-ray at a facility you wonder is sanitary.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
Cheap wine, Fresh food , Rich history, learning a new language and watching my kids learn it.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
The claustrophobia of living so close to others, the small living accommodations, and tight spaces. Even the parks are small. And are only built to fit preschool sized children. Hard to find places for older kids to play outside. I think elementary school children must stay locked in their apartments when they aren't at school.
The crime: all the door locking, alarms, bars on the windows of peoples bedroom even in the suburbs.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
I do it all the time....most due to mispronunciations or verb tenses.
I wore shorts and a t-shirt out in my "garden" (think no grass, just bricks) due to what I'd call heat. I swear I have permanent heat stroke here. My landlord comes out of his apartment in long pants and a coat. I'm from the northern US. I got the funniest look from him. He can't understand why we haven't turned on the heat yet.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Please find out as much as you can about what life is really like there. See apartments of people - coworkers - so you can see how they really live. It takes hours to do a tiny load of laundry. While it is running, don't turn on any other appliance or you'll blow your fuses. And you may have to air dry that laundry all over your apartment because it rains for 3 days straight. You can hear all the neighbors all the time. And the ones across the street.
Since people look onto this forum for guidance to how to make the move to Italy, perhaps this forum should also discuss the problem of Expat Fatigue. NeoExpats are full of hope, wonder, anxiety, sense of adventure, willingness to new experiences and tastes and meeting new people. When you first make your move everything is new. Everything is a challenge to be solved. The amazing restaurants with wonderfully fresh fish and vegetables, the incredible variety of local and regional wines, the exotic scenery and the wonderfully mild weather vindicates that difficult decision that you had to make to make the move. There are problems. There are always problems but they are quaint and humorous. Waiting online at the post offices while the customer at the only open window discusses her life with the teller who does not appear to have any urgency. Having to wait hours with immigrants to see government officials so you can get the documents you need only to find out that the officials had to go to another city to process the latest boat load of immigrants, is also quaint. After all what else do you have to do with your time?………………… Overtime things and attitudes change. The new and exotic becomes the old and mundane. All those restaurants now appear to have the same few dishes with only aesthetic differences but basically its all the same food. That huge variety of local and regional wines do not include the great wines of the world, just the same local stuff all the time. If you want a California Chardonnay or a Rhone Cote Rotie, you’re out of luck. Those quaint driving habits of the locals become reason for road rage on your part when you finally recognize that its actually incompetence behind the wheel. And then you really get angry when you consider that for you to get a license you have to go to driving school knowing that you already drive better than most of the people on the roads. That includes the police……………….. It’s not so much home sickness. Two weeks in the States proves to me that its not the USA that I miss. It’s the reason I became an expat in the first place. Its the New, the exotic, the change, the new experiences. Those things are easily found and more easily lost. Its important to consider this when making your plans. Are you leaving your old home because you’re tired of the same old, same old? Well then you are likely to find it again wherever you go. For me the solution is to keep moving. Give each place a few years and then seek some other place. Its not a longterm solution because eventually I will be too old to keep doing that but for now that is the plan. I understood this from the beginning and that is why we have not purchased a home. We rent so that we can easily un-rent and move on. Thats my solution but it may not be yours. However I just wanted to let the NeoExpats know about this. Looking forward to others points of view.
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