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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Rome, Italy

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

Rome

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

no

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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 learned it while I was living there - although after 8 years, I am still not fluent!

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

No, I had moved to several other European countries before, but Italy was a dream come true.

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

I had a huge honeymoon phase - since living in Rome had always been a dream of mine. But the honeymoon ended as soon as I picked up the kids from school everyday - it was a hard place to live with 2 small 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?

I went through all of these phases. My biggest mistake was not embracing the culture fully - bit trying to compare and contrast everything with my American culture and seeking out English speaking friends. If I had thrown myself into the Italian culture and languge from the beginning, I would have had an easier transition and would have been happier.

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.

I had increased anger and anxiety. I also felt guilty for being away from my family in the States - taking my parents' two granddaughters away from them was hard.

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

I absolutely love the simple, fun, passionate lifestyle that the Italians embrace. I have been lkiving in Venice for the last 4 years and love the lifestyle there too - very family oriented.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

The language continues to be a struggle now that my children attend the local Italian school and all the meetings and paperwork are in Italian. I also long for meaningful friendships with the Italians, but my vocabulary is still too limited to have in depth conversations. My kids are fluent and I so envy them!

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

I have had a few emotional outbursts where I yell and scream in English out of frustration or compare the way things are done in the States, quite loudly, openly putting down the Italian way. So embarassing! I have since learned not to do that!

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

Please don't compare your new culture to your own - there's a reason you left yours - so embrace the differences! Learn the language as soon as possible - immerse yourself in it, make friends with the locals, send your kids to the local school, learn local recipes and customs - you will get so much more out of the culture that way!!!

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
Applying for Italian Citizenship in USA (33 replies)

Hello everyone. I have several questions so I will mark them starting with #1. I would like to apply for my Italian Citizenship along with my 2 adult children (18&21). My jurisdiction Italian Consulate is Chicago(I do not live in that state). I have sent 65 emails (no response)& called them for over 1 year & they do not answer the phone!! Maybe you can help me. I already have my father's Italian birth certificate from Italy, his marriage certificate and naturalization paper from USA. I have mine, my 2 adult children birth certificate with apostille.I have an appt for November, 2020, we have to fly to Chicago PLUS rent a car & hotel...and I made 1 appointment thinking my whole family will attended to at this appt, then I read in some forums each applicant must make hisher own appt?? If this is true what should I do?? We all need to be processed at the same time.....(That's #1 question) OK here's my other questions and sorry so many questions but I need to get to Italy ASAP as an Italian citizen. #2 -What other formsdocuments, where do I get the formsdocuments that I need and how much is the cost? Do I write a personal check or money order for each of these forms? #3-How long does the whole process take if I apply for my Italian citizenship in USA? #4- Do I need to prove any kind of fundssavings I have in bank or do I need to prove anything else??#5- I am on SSDI so I live on my money from SSDI, so I can not work or working. #6- What am I missing as far as what else I need? Thx in advance everyone...

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Italy expat forum topic
Unmarried couple with child. He qualifies for citizenship. (4 replies)

Hi. I’ve learned a bunch reading your posts (thank you) and I am wondering if you can please answer a couple of questions. My long-time live-in boyfriend of nearly 17 years, the father of our 3-year old daughter--my husband for intents and purposes, but not by law, qualifies for Italian citizenship. We just realized this last week. His grandmother was from Naples, married his American military grandfather, moved to the U.S., had a green card, never became naturalized, and had a daughter, his mom, who was born after 1948. His mom didn’t renounce her citizenship. Some research made this news less exciting as we realized he’d have to deal with the SF consulate, and that would probably take a very very long. We were already looking into moving to Europe (we checked out Portugal in November, and were aiming for long term residency there via d7 visa) when I stumbled upon this information, and it seems like a much better option for him and our daughter to have citizenship and have the ability to move around the EU. So we’d like to go to Italy to do the paperwork there because it would be faster, and also, because we were already wanting to go somewhere for an adventure. But how would that work out for me? Would I be subjected to regular Schengen visa time limits and not granted a permesso di soggiorno because we’re not married? Or would I be able to be able to get a permesso di soggiorno along with my partner and our daughter? We’re not married because not married, but we could be married. We just never did that because I felt funny about the dress and wedding and fuss and all, and we were always working and moved quite a few times, and then a bunch of years passed. But so, we could get married if I can’t stay with them. Does anyone know the answer to this? And then, if the answer is that I’d have to deal with regular Schengen visa time limits, and then we decide to get married so that I can get a permesso di soggiorno also, would it matter to get married in the U.S. before we left or in Italy like a month or two into our time there? Thank you for your help.

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Italy expat forum topic
Do I have everything I need? (3 replies)

Good afternoon. I will be requesting dual citizenship(Italian Citizenship) in Italy. I was wondering if you kind people can help me out and if I have everything I need. I have 3 daughters 18, 22, 29 yrs old. I have my mothers birth certificate, marriage certificate, USA naturlization certificate. I have myself and my daughter's USA birth certificates with the Apostille and translated into Italian. I have my divorce decree translated in Italian. So I go to the Questura where I will be living in Italy and will they give me all the forms we need to fill out for Italian citizenship or does the post office give me the forms? What forms do we need and how much are they$$? After filling out the forms for each family member what type of payment do they take?(cash, money order?) Then after filling out the forms we just pop back in the Questura and tellthem we want Italian Citizenship (Dual)? How many days will we have to find us a place to live? When we get to Italy we must go to Questura and tell them we need to stay more than 3 months and why, correct? Is this when they issue the Permesso di soggiorno? Finally, how long will it take for us to become Italian Citizens? *I hope I have not missed any steps here if so please help me out and what the correct steps are. Grazie!

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Comments about this Report

rrideout
Sep 21, 2011 11:55

thank you for your explanation about not comparing cultures and diving right in. I think your report was extremely helpful to me!

guest
Jan 25, 2012 15:28

I only made it to the rejection phase. Im still frusterating about having tried so hard to learn the language and still isnt going my way.this is something i emersed myself from day one. You not knowing the language still makes me think its impossible

guest
Oct 10, 2012 12:35

I went through the same experience. I was shoved into an Italian grade school when I was five, I had just landed in Italy. Didn't speak a word in Italian at first, by the third trimester my grade in Italian was higher than those of my native classmates!!! And today of course I teach Italian. Girlfriend, you're not making a strong enough effort to learn the language; with the internet there are no longer any excuses. I suggest that you start using http://www.wordreference.com/it on a daily basis. They have a menu`a tendina (drop-down menu) with four categories: Italiano-Inglese, Inglese-Italiano, Italian definition, Italian verb conjugation. Use all four of them!!!!

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