Last week I cried out of frustration – again.
Maybe I was tired, or hungry, or already frustrated by a frustrated Marco. Maybe I’m just one to easily cry – but that’s not the point. The point is, even after nearly a year of my life in Italy, I still have my moments.
I still have moments of “why can’t anything be normal?” (i.e. like what I’m used to) and “why can’t I say what I want to say” and “why don’t Italians have an adequate number of tampon brands to choose from?”
On February 1, 2013 I changed even the smallest details of my life when I boarded a plane for Milan, Italy with my first ever one-way ticket.
We moved into our tiny, adorable (and tiny) apartment right away, but it took months to really get it how we wanted, finding hardware stores, meeting our landlords and getting used to living with only each other (a big difference from having five roommates!)
I had to get re-accustomed to the language, I toured the city on my runs and I found parks, plazas and even the library. Jobless for awhile, I found productivity in cooking, reading and updating my Twitter profile to not wallow in uselessness. As someone who is used to not having a second of free time, it was a shock.
I explored Milan, went to a conference in Perugia, an art exhibit in Verona and Carnevale in Venezia. Marco and I cooked Easter lunch and met friends and hosted dinner parties. (I know, right? dinner parties! I’m so grown up). I found the supermarket with the best produce, the one with the best meat and the cheapest one for stock items. I rode my bike through Monza to familiarize myself, trying clothing stores, pharmacies, cafés and gelaterias.
I finally started working some, pitched some articles on the side and even got some published.
I navigated Italian bureaucracy, only surviving with the relentless help of my father-in-law. I got married, finally introduced my parents to Marco’s and started wearing a ring.
Finally I got a steady job, teaching English to children and re-entering into a world of complete ignorance. I made lesson plans that failed and some that worked spectacularly and learned a new Italian word with each English one I taught.
I got into Milan on February 2nd tired and ready to start my newest adventure. As you can see, it’s definitely been an adventure, one overwhelmingly positive and fun and funny – but that doesn’t mean it’s always been sunny. Expat life is hard, and I
had have a lot to learn.
The thing is, I’m learning to be an adult at the same time I’m learning to be an expat – only it too often feels all backwards and sideways and like it only works if you know somebody (nepotism anyone?).
Yes, I’ve learned how to really cook Italian food, but it came at the same time I started learning simply how to cook. Yes, I opened an Italian bank account, about the same time that I had real life bills to pay for the first time.
See, learning how to be an adult comes naturally … to an extent. Learning how to be an adult in another country, one where your squared edges can’t seem to be rounded enough to completely fit in, makes the transition a little more difficult.
Right when I feel like I have it under control (and like this is home) I somehow find a way to unravel. Maybe because I can’t find socks, because I can’t send mail or because after defending the noises American animals make versus those of Italians (in Italy the rooster says “keeki-reee-keee!” weirdos.) This time, it was the driver’s license that brought me back to my first month in Italy – at least emotionally.
Though it’s been a year since my move to Italy, it feels like I’ve been here a day. But I know that I’m more capable, more independent. I still learn something new every day, only now I’m less afraid. I can call people when there’s a problem, go to my doctors on my own, get the groceries and pay the bills – as an adult and as an expat.
And I’m sure I can get my Italian driver’s license as well.