Moving To Italy? Some Common “Expat” Mistakes To Avoid

| September 25, 2014

Mercato di Mezzo in Bologna

The list of mistakes that expatriates make when moving to a new country, such as Italy, is quite long. And, though it’s been said that people learn from their mistakes, too often the knowledge arrives in needlessly painful fashion. Naturally, the best way to learn from mistakes, as well as the least painful, is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Here, at Gate-Away.com, we have compiled a sampling of the more common errors that expats commit while they’re on their road to la dolce vita.

Some mistakes involve cut-and-dried logistics, while others speak more to the emotional perceptions of what can and should be a grand adventure. Remember, many potential problems can be addressed in preemptive fashion, by doing the necessary research, and by performing due diligence before the fact.

Mistake 1 — Avoiding to learn Italian

The Italian language is the vocal expression of the Italian soul; to miss-out on the lyrical beauty of the language would be a great loss. And, after all, the only way to say La dolce vita is to say it in Italian.
Nobody needs to be a professor of linguistics to learn some basic Italian. And, learning at-least a bit of rudimentary Italian will go a long way toward allowing a person to appreciate and experience more fully the pleasures of living as an Italian lives. For practical matters, serviceable Italian language skills enable people to keep track of their lives, manage their finances, avoid being constantly lost and, of course, to only order Lardo di Colonnata when Cured Pork Fat is really what they want for dinner.

Mistake 2 — Isolating themselves

Unless you are in training to be a monk, the only thing to do with isolation is to avoid it. Life in Italy is something to be embraced, not something to be afraid of. You’re in Rome now, or maybe it’s Tuscany, or Ischia, or Puglia, so do as the locals do; it isn’t difficult. Italians are a diverse and charming people, and there is always something new to experience. There are performances, celebrations, exhibitions, festivals, and more going on all the time in Italy, and you are invited to all of it! The wonderful Italian people are happy to share information, knowledge, recipes, and advice. That’s another thing about the concept of “la dolce vita”: you have to live it to love it. No complaints, stay connected with the new culture and make new Italian friends!

Mistake 3 — Continually comparing cultures

Something that folks who are struggling to adjust to Italy seem to run into is that they waste way too much time and energy in comparisons with life “back home”. Life in Italy is different than it was in England or Germany or US, and you can rearrange the countries in any order and still make a correct statement. “Different” doesn’t mean better or worse, it means “different”. Many expats bring their native culture with them when they come to Italy (think “Chiantishire“), but they have also blended in with the Italian lifestyle, adapting and sharing, and enhancing their own lives, as a result. Italy continues to be one of Civilization’s major crossroads.

Mistake 4 — Too high expectations

“What will be, will be”. Italy is more likely to change a newcomer than a newcomer is likely to change Italy, so the idea is to “go with the flow”, and “learn to live” in a new way. It takes time to pick up the rhythm and pace of a new community. Yes, you’re an immigrant, but you are also a residente, and your home in Italy is where you live now.

Moving to Italy from another country is a huge undertaking, but not such an intimidating prospect if the homework has been done, and if people are open to the welcome they will receive in their newly-adopted home.