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 have often visited Italy before moving.
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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 do not speak Italian, but I am learning... slowly.
Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?
Of course, I experienced none as most Italians I have made have gone out of their way to make me feel at home.
How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?
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?
Florence is a fantastic city. If you like Boston or San Francisco you will love it here. Florence is smallish, flat (easy to walk), much more inexpensive then Miami (where I live half the year), extremely cultured and cultural, great restaurants and exhibitions and located in beautiful Tuscany, near Umbria and Liguria, a train ride from Venice and Rome - what more do you need.
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.
First of all, a new resident in Italy has to remember that you are a visitor. Italians are very proud of their culture and nation so avoid statements that begin with "Well, in America....". No one on the surface really cares how it's done in America (or England, Germany, France, Canada, etc.) However, Italians do love and admire America and if you are low keyed about where you are from, you will get 100s of questions about the U.S. For example I also live in Miami and get asked constantly about my home town. Italians do mostly everything, from eating, to working, to socializing to arguing like Italians (melodramatic, passionate, opinionated, kind, welcoming, warm and unhurried) and not like Americans (hurried, impatient, largely ignorant about European history and art, gastronomically challenged - no spaghetti and meatballs in Italy). Be tolerant, be respectful, be patient, be nice, try to speak in Italian (though you will be surprised home many Italians, especially younger people speak English) and you will be welcomed and accepted. Acceptance is a big deal in Italy. Once you are liked, you are a member of the family and will be cared for, cooked for, and fussed over.
What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?
What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?
Getting virtually anything done here involving a municipality takes forever unless you have an in, So safe yourself time and aggravation and hire an Italian to help you with the needs of daily living (phone, electricity, visas, licenses, permits, etc.)
Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!
Italians eat with knife and fork in each hand and do not switch forks after cutting meat to the other hand to eat. Also, do not drive or park in Restricted Zones within cities - you will be ticketed or booted.
Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?
Italy is a good base to see France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, "Eastern Europe", Africa and the Middle East, Air travel is cheap once in Europe (Ryan Air). Enjoy the world
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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