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Expat Advice: Culture Shock in Florence, Italy

Oct 05, 2016


Florence

An experienced expat provides amazing insight into life in Florence, and how unpredictable the settling in process can be - even for someone who has lived all over the world! From the beautiful countryside to struggling with the health care system, read about the experience of moving to Florence, Italy.

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

Florence

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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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?

I am in the process of learning Italian, which is super necessary if you want to deal with anything official, including the healthcare system. I have had government healthcare providers hang up on me because my Italian was so bad and they did not want to slow down to allow me to understand.

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

Not at all. I have lived in 10 different countries in my lifetime - in Asia, North America, Europe & the Middle East. Culture shock is a natural process and I knew it would not all be honeymoon, though I thought being a European country it would be much easier than other places I have lived. Unfortunately this left me totally unprepared for just how difficult things would be.

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

Very significant. I was pretty shocked by the way I was spoken to in supermarkets and treated by the municipal healthcare providers. Getting my residency was especially tricky because I kept providing them with the documentation they requested, and they would then come back and put another barrier in place. Until I had an Italian friend come with me I was unable to to get my residency, when she did come with me they said everything was in place and they didn't actually need the last document they had requested.

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?

The honeymoon phase lasted about a week, which is unusually short for me. I know in a few months time I'll get past it, but Florence is a very lonely city for an expat, which makes it harder to settle.

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.

Definitely anger and depression, feeling so helpless.

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

I love the history, art, food, wine. The whole city and surrounding countryside are a feats for the eyes. And being so much closer to home as well really helps.

What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Trying to accept that as long as I have an accent I will always be treated as a second rate citizen

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

not that I'm aware of but I am sure they happened :)

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

Every place I have lived has been so different. Before I moved to Thailand I expected to experience huge culture shock, yet the transition was amazing and easy. Before moving to Italy, I expected less culture shock and experienced the most I have ever had! Just go anywhere expecting culture shock and know it's a natural process. If it's still unbearable after a year or two it's probably not the place for you.

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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guest
Nov 23, 2016 23:59

The worst two years of my life!! I as well had lived in the Middle East, Africa and Asia before living there. Italy doesn't have to be so difficult, Italians just seem to enjoy making it that way. They'll tell you no just to watch you squirm. They'll enjoy putting road blocks in your way to getting things done and smile with sick pleasure. I loathe that place and will never step foot there again. Italians only like other Italians. They are not open, kind or helpful people.

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