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, not really. I'd come here on holiday at age 35, unaware at that stage I was on the verge of separation from my husband, and knew this is where I wanted to be.
He wouldn't follow me, so we separated (in Rome, as it happens), we went home, I put in my notice at work, whittled my belongings down to virtually nothing, booked a 3 month stint at a language school and was back here a month later. Beyond the language school, I made the concerted effort not to make plans.
The cross-cultural training (read: trial by fire and tears) came later.
Moving to Italy soon?
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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?
The last couple of years have been a long road and I was edging into 'fluent' range as I speak only Italian at home. However, my partner and I went back to Australia to visit my parents and we stayed in Aus for 5 weeks. While we continued to speak Italiano, the background language was always English, of course, so I feel on the back foot again.
I highly recommend learning the language intensively at a school. To dog paddle through the language for years just makes it harder, and you learn all the bad habits!
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
No, not essentially. I don't tend to see everything through rose-coloured lenses. It's not all picture-perfect light and festas-in-the-streets and 'al sole mio'. I knew that before I came here.
Also, I'm a mix of Polish, German, English and Belgian, so growing up having multi cultural parents and grandparents with multi cultural quirks is quite normal.
One last thing I want to add here is that I was surprised, when I was here on holiday, how few people speak English. That surprised me as I wasn't aware of it.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
Not a great deal shocks me...though (as someone else wrote here) the overt sex trafficking and escort/mistress culture is hard to take.
I think the culture shock has slowly seeped in. I've noticed the original adrenaline high anxiety has collapsed into a depression that's been hard to shake for the last 5 weeks. It's taken almost 2 years for this to happen and, most likely, the trip back to Aus was a catalyst. Also, my expat friend recently lost her Italian husband here and I'm faced with another side of reality.
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?
Ok, I think I've outlined this above, but the honeymoon phase was more for me like bumbling through daily life!! Irritation to anger - yep, there was plenty of that and there still is where the language is concerned. Also, even though I've been driving for 20 years, because my licence is Australian, I can't exchange it for an Italian one. I have to do the exam from scratch. So, little freedoms such as that, which I took for granted can add up to irritation that collapses into a futile anger, and probably rejection of the culture. That, and the fact you've got to get a bloody stamp for everything!
As for adjusting and settling into the new culture? I think I need another year here, working without disruption or distraction from the old life (which is why I deleted my Facebook account) in order to let things organically happen. I can't force these things, and I can't change others. I'm learning patience and that I can't microcontrol everything.
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, definitely. Tears at sad songs, tears at a fumbled second language, over-reacting to small nuisances... I think last February was the worst. We were set to have 10 days in Tenerife, in the sun, and had to cancel when my partner's father became gravely ill and was hospitalised in intensive care for 40 days. The drive to and from the hospital is an hour, and we were in the middle of moving house. We stayed at my partner's parents' place for a month...
Frustration? Yes. Homesickness? No. Decreased eating and drinking, rather than increased.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
The warmth of the community I live in, just to be welcomed every day by those familiar faces and their smiles.
My partner, who has just been wonderful, gentle and patient; my sister-in-law and in-laws.
The antiquity, the church bells, the art, the culture of food and wine, and the living in tune with the seasons.
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
I'd kill for some fresh ginger and a good, hot Indian curry most days!
Setting up businesses - the bureaucracy and taxes can be crippling and are changeable. I take my hat off to accountants here.
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
All the time, probably...
I walk around barefoot in my house, without slippers on.
I asked if I could "Sweep the Floor" for someone.
Oh...that's right...I mixed my spinach contorno (side dish) into my spaghetti. I was audibly gasped at.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Number one: Learn. The. Language. It will make it so much easier for you long term.
Do an online TEFL course, or enroll in class tuition for teaching ESL. It's a great fallback...and surprisingly heaps of fun.
Ask for help, seek out other English-speaking expats and make friends with them but don't rely too heavily on only them.
Listen to your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. It's saved my skin a number of times. Don't get cranky, but learn to say 'no' and mean it (still working on the assertive no!)
Be creative with the skills you have. Every little short course, degree, experience you've had can be cobbled together to help you find work.
Don't let things get you too flustered. There are days that will be so hard you'll want to cry. Even catching a bus from A to B can make you want to squawk.
Most of all, have fun. You're in a wonderful, beautiful, old land with old traditions and a diversity from north to south. Dig your toes in.
Elective Residence Financial & Length of Stay
My wife and I are looking to move to Italy for a period 1 year. We are reviewing the process to file for the Elective Residence Visa with the intention of living in Italy for the period of 1 year - we will be applying to the Chicago consulate.
I understand there are multiple requirements for this visa, however I am focused on locating bonafide answers on 2 topics - hopefully from people who have been through an identical situation as ours.
1) Regarding "Proof of Financial Means", I would like to specifically know if we can use our savings and only our savings to qualify for this section? There is a lot of conflicting information on this topic, some people say that you need "income", while others imply that savings will be sufficient, but I have not seen a post anywhere on the internet that describes an exact example of someone who has used ONLY savings to qualify, and not an income stream.
Among other significant assets, we have $250,000 in a savings account which we would use to fund our stay in Italy. Since we only plan on being there for a period of 1 year, I cannot imagine that this amount would not be enough to qualify us to have the "financial means" to spend the year in Italy without having to work - however I want to confirm this with someone, or multiple people who have qualified on their savings alone, and have not had to rely upon an income stream to show "Proof of Financial Means".
If there is someone who can help on this topic, it would also be great to know how you went about explaining in your visa application how your savings would be used to fund your time in Italy by using your savings account.
2) Regarding our length of stay in Italy, we plan on being there for 1 year. This seems like it would be straight forward enough since the maximum amount of time you can apply to be in Italy with the Elective Residence visa is up to 365 days (based on line 25. in the visa application).
I have read some comments that indicate the Elective Residence visa is intended for people who are permanently moving to Italy for retirement, there are a few conflicts that I can see with the thought that it is only for people permanently retiring to Italy, I'll get into those below - but the basic question here is "can someone who only intends to stay in Italy for the period of 1 year apply for this visa, or is it only for people who are intending to retire in Italy permanently?
In the instructions for the ER visa it states a few things that would indicate that the visa would be perfect for people who only want to be there for 1 year:
1) Line 25. of the application says that the maximum amount of time you can apply for is 365 days. One would believe that since the visa is only good for the period of 1 year in this instance, and that permanent retirement to Italy would last more than 365 days, that this visa is for people who are looking to be in Italy for between 91 - 365 days.
2) As part of the requirement to file for the ER visa, you need to have your flights booked, including your return flight. If the intention was that you were moving to Italy permanently, why would they ask to have the return flight booked?
To sum up the questions:
1) Can you show proof of financial means by using ONLY savings?
2) Can you apply for the ER visa with the intention of only going for 1 year?
Any information which would prove that applying for the ER visa is a reality under these circumstances would be fantastic!
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So today, a mere 10(!) months after I submitted my application here in Firenze, I went to the questura for another madness-inducing, three-hour "stand around and wait" afternoon and finally -- FINALLY -- got my permesso di soggiorno!
We were hoping to get a little time to breathe and savor the accomplishment, but of course, this Friday will be 60 days before the damn thing expires, which means it's time to jump right back in and begin the renewal process.
You were all so wonderfully helpful back when I was first applying, and I was wondering if you could help me with a few lingering questions to which I've only been able to find ambiguous and/or contradictory answers for.
1.) Aside from obviously checking the right box and including a photocopy of my soon-to-expire PDiS, is the renewal application process otherwise the same as the original application?
I was told that a renewal is simply verifying that the conditions of the first PDiS issuance are still valid, which would suggest that only updated documents are required. I'd like to know just how far that explanation goes.
2.) Will applying for the renewal with a different address than the original create any problems?
The original plan was to stay in my current apartment, but some unforeseen circumstances with the building and the landlord mean I'm going to have to move at the end of my current contract, which lines up with the expiration of my current PDiS. I have a new apartment and a new contract that aligns with the time period of the renewal, but I didn't know if simply changing the address at all would add any new headaches.
3.) Is registering with the commune/Anagrafe a *requirement* for the renewal?
I'm not asking if I should do it (I will), or anything else along those lines. I'm simply asking if it's a REQUIREMENT for the renewal process.
Many unofficial websites list it as one of the steps, but the implication is that it's an obvious and important thing to get done if you want health care, car registration, etc. I have yet to see anywhere if it's an objective requirement and that a renewal application will be rejected or otherwise not accepted without it.
I'm also just generally curious what your experiences were with your renewals. Straightforward? Sudden curveballs you weren't expecting?
Thank you in advance, folks. I appreciate any help or insights you can offer here.
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