Monday, May 07, 2012

Open Mic - The Responses

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?!) shy one in the back.  The economy sucks all over, unfortunately.  Not just here.  Problem is, for us it's a bit more challenging because we're not EU citizens and can't take a regular job (no proverbial green card for us).  We can do freelance work, and that's it.  So while the cost of living is low and we don't have a mortgage to pay, there are taxes and living expenses.  And at the moment we're not filling the tank as fast as we're driving.  Yeah, the cost of gas is through the roof here.  We decided to keep going forward on our projects while bouncing back and forth to the US for bank account fill-ups.  The retirement fund is untouchable, so "si arrangia" as they say here, while hoping the economy picks up, work brings some rewards, and we can stay put and live happily, peacefully here in our village.

Thanks, you've been great!  Open Mic Night continues next time with the other find folks, and a couple of questions I get all the time...

See you then!


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Italy in 2015 said...

Hey Valeria!

My husband and I are planning to move over in the fall of 2015....about a second and a half after he retires. From everything we've read on your blog and your husband's blog, sounds we will be living on a similar budget, which sounds like a fantastic lifestyle! My questions for you are... If we decide to send over a few boxes of personal possessions, what items would be on your list of HIGHLY recommended things to bring with us? What things would you advise against bringing? Any other random bits of advise on the topic?