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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Verona, Italy

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Verona

Did you receive any cross-cultural training for your move abroad? If yes, was it before or after the move?

Yes, from my Italian sweetheart as well as my military service around the world.

Expats living in Italy interested in expat health insurance should take a minute to get a quote from our trusted expat health insurance partner, CIGNA.

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?

No, I'm lazy but I know enough to get by.

Were you worried or concerned about culture shock before you moved abroad?

Not so much but it living in Italy isn't all as glamours as it is when you simply visit for a few days or 2-3 weeks. The flare goes away quite quickly when you realize its a third world country in comparison to the USA e.g. medical, utilities, car costs, toll roads and fuel.

How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Moderate to significant but you will adjust after 6-8 months.

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?

Yes, yes and yes. Once you become part of the fabric, you learn that its just another place but a lot more expensive! The food is great and that includes FRESH produce! It's the entire country is a Whole Foods store.

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.

Frustration with store hours and the inferior quality of many goods. Oh, and forget about returning anything for any reason.

What are some things you appreciate most about the new culture?

People are usually more sincere after you’re accepted. Whatever you do, don't ever tell an Italian how its done better in America.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Well, I’m retired from the US Army and fiancée is Italian and lives in the north. I have visited there fairly often and I have also been stationed throughout Europe. It’s very pricy but the culture is very nice! However, there are drawbacks to all the glamour. American’s will have to accept many concessions as to lifestyle. Shops have segmented work hours; utilities are markedly higher, and you can completely forget about returning anything you buy, regardless of the reason. Theft is fairly common so watch your property and your back. Also, you need to consider medical provisions as well. Get sick and go to a doctor can be a real eye opener. BTW: If you think fuel prices are high in the US of A then you’ll get a rude awakening when you fill up a car in Italy. If that doesn’t affect you, the highway toll fees will. Still, the United States is clearly going to hell in a hand basket so these seemingly stark drawbacks may not be all that bad.

Did you "commit" any embarrassing or humorous cultural blunders? If you did and you'd like to share them, please do tell!

Don't expect people to smile and say hello as you pass someone on the street. They won't even make eye contact with you unless you're in the down town shopping districts.

I wash my car while bareback and I deeply offended a few people. It is considered very rude to display your body in public.

Do you have any advice or thoughts about culture shock you would like to share?

Don't tip as it is not required and they will consider you as stupid. Sure, they'll take it but they won't respect you. Also, drink your coffee slowly, regardless of the thimble size cups.

On the Italy Expat Forum

Join our Italy Forum and talk with other expats in Italy who can offer you insight and tips about living in Italy. Here are a few of the latest discussions on the Italy Expat Forum:

Italy expat forum topic
Answering your questions from my previous post so you can help me further (5 replies)

Hi, Everyone. Thank you so much for all your replies. So, i want to answer all your questions so you can further assist me, since most of you had questions for me. So, i will be useing my father as the bloodline relative and yes i qualify. I am an American citizen and live in the USA at the moment. Ok, so here are my questions #1- My friend who is on SSDI will they have to pay taxes to the Italian Government, in America they do not because it is not earned income? #2 - I will not be a Nurse in Italy, i will do online work being paid by an American Company, will i have to pay taxes to the Italian Government? #3- Do i need a Visa BEFORE i go to Italy since i may be staying more than 3 months to process my documents? #4- Do i apply for the 'Permesso DiSogiorno' once i arrive in Italy within 8 days? And , can i keep renewing the 'Permesso ds' till it hits 5 years than apply for perm resident in Italy? #5- Can i get a Dual Citizenship after the 5 year residence or i can get the dual citizenship right away? #6- If i do not want to get a Dual Citizenship can i live in Italy forever just with the Permesso di s??#7- Do i need atleast $30k , in the bank for Permesso Di S OR Dual Citizenship? #8- Do i need a rental house or Apartment & show proof of it with the Permesso di S OR Dual Citizenship? I need a rental and proof of it no matter which route i choose to go, dual citizen or permesso di s ?? #9- Will they keep my fathers ORIGINAL birth certificate or do i just show them the original and give them a copy? #10- Last but not least, where do i get all these documents in Italy for Permesso di S , and Dual citizenship? And the reason i want to process all my documents in Italy is because there is a 2.5 year wait in Chicago Consolate. Thanks everyone in advance.

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Italy expat forum topic
Moving to Italy, but do not meet financial amounts for Elective Residence (9 replies)

Hi all. I am planning on retiring next year and would like to move to Italy. I have seen figures of 31000 Euro and 38000 Euro for and individual and a couple. My pension will be a little short of that. I am wondering if there is another way to move to Italy in this situation. I have seen "after you have lived there legally for 5 years" you can become a permanent resident. So how does one live there legally for 5 years without getting an ER Visa?

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Italy expat forum topic
Please ease my confusion (7 replies)

Hi everyone. My post is long so please be patient with me :) Can someone please tell me if i apply for the "Permesso Di Sogiorno" in Italy does that allow me to live in Italy permanently? Is yes, do i just keep renewing it? At the end of 5 years of renewing it, do i have the option to become a resident of Italy or a citizen of Italy? As a resident can i live in Italy forever? With the "Permesso Di Sogiorno" do i need to prove i have an apartment or house in my name? Can a B&B or hotel address be used if staying longterm in them while processing documents? What other things do i have to prove with the "Permesso Di Sogiorno.? A friend of mine who receives SSDI from America will also be applying for "Permesso Di Dogiorno" but they receive SSDI from Social Security in USA. Will they have to pay any taxes to Italy on SSDI with "Permesso Di Sogiorno"? So, what is the difference between getting a "Dual Citizenship" & "Permesso di Sogiorno" or "Dual Citizenship", right now he is on SSDI and pays no taxes in the USA because SSDI is considered non-working income. If i want to get a 'Dual Citizenship' can i apply in Italy. What is the cost? Will any city in Italy process this? How long does it take?? Also for either one of these do i need to stay in Italy while processing? Also for either one of these that i listed do they need the ORIGINAL documents and DO THEY KEEP THE ORIGINALS?, or just copy them?

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Comments about this Report

guest
Oct 7, 2010 04:03

I bought some items here in italy and I returned them with no problem. I bought the wrong size shoes. In customer services, I think Italians do what they want if they can get away with it.

guest
Oct 21, 2010 10:51

Return policies in Italy are governed by state law which requires store owners to accept returns only if the item is in some way defective or deceptive (eg size 6 shoes in a box with size 8 written on it), even if these items have been sold in a sale. All other returns are considered to be at the shopowners discretion - I generally have found that they are fairly accomodating as long as the item is returned within a reasonable time frame although many of them only offer the possibility of exchanging the item with one of similar value.

guest
Aug 28, 2011 09:09

" its a third world country in comparison to the USA" For the higway and fuel costs? Medical...really sure that usa is better?? Always heard that if you are not whealty enough to afford private clinics, public sanity leave quite enought to complain about (In usa more than in italy) " It is considered very rude to display your body in public."??? Ever been in a beach in italy? Are you able to go topless, or even full nude in any place in usa? Because in italy is commonly accepted. "don't ever tell an Italian how its done better in America" Why should you do that? In my opinion your evaluation standars are different from the rest of the world, and honestly sounds a bit silly to me. If not,... i might have been living too many years in a different country that italy, cause surely that is a country which vary so much depending on the places where u go (and there's too many dislikes), but too many of your perceptions sounds quite weird to me.

guest
Mar 6, 2012 22:53

Italians are straight forward they lell you to you face if u not good and medical well its sends a mesage out americans they live on fast food so does the british and it cost nhs eat healthy at home and eat out once a week o and keep of the alcahol drink

guest
Mar 9, 2012 20:07

I don't get this person's criticisms. I think it might be because he has been in the military for a long time, and expects things to be "in order". Yes, the large Italian metropolitan areas are expensive - as they are all over Europe. Northern Italy is a very sophisticated place with excellent transportation (btw, the rest stops that frequent Italian highways put American rest stops to shame, by a long shot - as well as often serving superb snacks and small bites). I find people friendly, but somewhat reserved. That's true in most places. It's not Long Beach, CA. Food is uniformly of high quality, and reasonably priced. Once one knows one's way around, one discovers ways to economize, if necessary. I think the key here is that no matter where one ends up as an expat, there is going to be some adjustment to be made. Those that are more rigid or controlled in their outlook (not a bad thing, just a personal proclivity) - or who are constantly comparing everything with what they *know* in America, are going to have a more difficult period of adjustment.

krism
Dec 26, 2013 18:10

I think part of the main reason the OP didn't have a great experience is the lack of effort in terms of learning the language. No matter where you go, if you don't make an effort to learn the language but you plan to live there, locals tend to brush you off. The US is the same way, many people who don't speak English will get brushed off, because it's hard to explain things within a limited vocabulary.

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