So Janine kicked things off with a bang when she stepped up to the microphone and asked the deep, philosophical head-scratcher: What is the biggest/most important lesson that Italy has taught me? Well. We've come so far from those early months when we felt like toddlers learning to walk. We've learned a language, learned to adapt, learned to laugh at ourselves. But I think the biggest thing we had to learn was patience. Yes, it's the virtue that I've always lacked; but it's the most important one when living in a foreign country in general and Italy in particular.
Patience with ourselves as we spit out disjointed words; patience with others as they tried to make things clear or when the "be nice to the dumb foreigners" look wafted across their faces; and patience...oh Lord lots and lots of patience....with the burocrazia. Investing days of circling offices, calling and being "disconnected", finding the right person who knew what we needed to do (and when and how we needed to do it) can really wear you down. But perseverance and patience are what you need in those circumstances.
Good question, Janine!
Jennifer - cuz! I know you're not the shy type, so glad to see you right there in the front row! Even if you don't have a wonderful cousin who lives in Italy, you can travel around Italy without much trouble. Yep, even if you don't speak the language. As long as you have a phrase book, learn a few of the important phrases before you arrive, and have a sense of adventure, you're good to go! Okay, I gotta say that down here in our parts, it can be more challenging as a lot of the smaller town are a bit thin in the English department. But you'll always be able to get fed, find a bagno, and wander around the sights even if you don't speak the language. Get a guidebook and go, has been our mantra from our first trip. But definitely read up a bit before hitting the ground, so you know how things operate. And of course, in the tourism-heavy areas like Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany and Amalfi Coast, you'll always find people who speak English. (I hope this means you're planning a trip?!)