Ciao everyone (I apologize for popping random Italian words in this post, I am trying to learn!),
So you are probably not aware of this but I am in Italy, teaching English as a foreign language. I have been here for just over a week and I love it! I am living in a beautiful town in the south and I am by the sea. I live with a wonderful host family and I am so lucky. This place feels like home and I am looked after. However culture shock and home-sickness have hit hard, I mean really hard. It is very difficult to be so far away from everything that is “comfortable” and “normal”. A small part of me wants to back to my comfort zone but then I think of how unhappy I was in my previous job. I worked at a call center, which taught me many things , but I found an office job was killing any creativity I had.
I find myself in a strange mixture of feelings, on the one hand I love being in Italy, the food, the people and the weather are all great. Teaching is my dream job and the children are wonderful. On the other hand my brain is working at 100 mph trying to process a new language, a new job and a new culture. It is exhausting and I miss my family. But this is the main downside of taking that great leap of moving abroad. I am trying to give myself more time to get used to everything. There are a few cultural differences that I am mainly struggling with. I will list them below;
- Children are not disciplined in the same way as British children are (or I was). The discipline is very relaxed here, which makes the children very confident but for me a little hard to teach. I am trying to view this as a difference, not the “wrong” way to raise children.
- The language barrier makes everything complicated, even though I am learning Italian quicker than I thought I still long to be fluent, but I have a long way to go! I am very lucky to have some people who do speak English though, it is nice to be understood.
- The days are very long, people will typically have dinner at around 8pm. I am so used to having it at around 6pm so this is hard to get used to.
- I am feeling so lost and confused, but thats just a part of culture shock!
This list could be much longer so I am lucky that these are my only frustrations. Part of it is that I am not yet confident with teaching and children generally pick that up. In a month I will probably look back and realize I have learned so much in so little time. In the interest of balance I will list all the things I love about living in Italy;
- The food, it is amazing! It’s fresh and delicious, there are no words for how much I love it. Don’t even get me started on the coffee, it is the best coffee I have ever tasted.
- The people are so friendly, the British side of me used to approach this with suspicion but now I just accept that in the south of Italy people are naturally extremely welcoming and friendly.
- The language is so beautiful, I love listening to it and speaking it (well trying haha).
- The views here are stunning, even in the rain. I love how the houses look and the coast is just beautiful! You get it, Italy is a beautiful place.
- I love to wander around and get lost, this is something you can only do in a new place and I am making the most of it!
- The food
- I love to teach, even though I never thought I could and I am still learning. I get nervous and it is sometimes terrifying, being in charge of a group of children, but at the end of the day I feel so happy and fulfilled.
- I can feel myself changing every day, which scares me because I feel like I will no longer recognize myself soon. Maybe thats a good thing.
- I love that feeling when I have a successful conversation in Italian, I just feel so proud of myself.
- In my flat I have the most amazing bath, I know its weird but it makes me really happy!
- I am well-fed, I have a beautiful flat to live in and I am happy (most of the time).
I think it is also fair to acknowledge that my host family and anyone I encounter will struggle too. I am not the only one struggling with culture shock, even though it sometimes feels like it. We are never alone.
Ciao and Grazie (thank-you) for reading