Common Expat Mistakes when moving to Italy
Contributed by Gate-away.com, 28 October, 2014
Moving to a new country is an exciting thought, but the reality of the move may be a bit more challenging. When moving to a country like Italy, expatriates often make some common mistakes which make the adaptation to the new culture more difficult. One way to avoid making these mistakes is by learning from the mistakes that others have made. In this way the knowledge necessary for moving to a new country can be learned in a painless fashion. Before the move, many of the potential problems can be avoided by simply researching and practicing due diligence. It may not be easy to relocate to Italy, especially if the language of that country is different, but avoiding the following mistakes made by other expatriates will make the transition easier.
- The first and major mistake that expatriates make when moving to Italy is not learning the language. This is a fundamental requirement for functioning sufficiently in a new country. While visitors and tourists to Italy may find many English speakers in the major cities and tourist destinations, the Italians who live outside these areas speak only Italian, including even the younger Italians. Fumbling the Italian language at a market or a bar may seem humorous at times when simply pointing or gesturing can successfully communicate the fumbled verbiage. However, when moving to Italy there will be times when it is necessary to speak Italian correctly and gestures will not do. For instance, talking on the phone to a gas company, cable company, or even to make an important appointment can only be successful with the proper use of the local language. Therefore, it is very important to learn some basic Italian. Having a rudimentary understanding of the language at a minimum will make living in Italy more fulfilling and pleasurable and at that same time allow expatriates the ability to handle important and practical matters of daily living.
- Another mistake expatriates make is not engaging with the local people. In general, people often stick to what they know and feel more comfortable when around other similar people. Expatriates often make the mistake of only spending time with and speaking with other English speakers. This is almost an automatic response, but the effort must be made to engage with Italian speakers on a regular basis. It is very difficult to learn the language in a sufficient way, improving with time, if surrounded only by other English speakers. Furthermore, taking the time and effort to speak with other Italians allows expatriates to be immersed in the culture. This is what allows the transition and integration into the community to be successful. Italy, after all, is a culture which embraces life. The people of Italy are quite diverse and charming and there is always something new to experience. Expatriates cannot isolate themselves from the Italian lifestyle or limit themselves to interactions with only English speakers if they want to fully share in the new culture. It is important to make new Italian friends, stay connected to the local culture, and interact with the people.
- Expatriates can make the mistake of comparing the culture with which they are familiar with the new culture surrounding them. It may be a natural tendency to compare things which are familiar with things which are not, but doing it too often is a mistake when trying to integrate into a new culture. The differences between what is familiar and what is not familiar are not good or bad; they are just different. Expatriates can waste a lot of energy and time thinking only of how things compare with the way they used to live and the judgment which results from that comparison. The constant comparisons can really just lead to what sounds like complaining. This can also lead to expatriates hanging about with other expatriates and complaining about everything that is not like their home country. This is a negative and isolating activity which does not allow the expatriates to get closer to and even adopt the ways of the locals. This is especially counterintuitive when moving to a new country should include the mission of making Italy home and creating a happy life.
The goal when moving to Italy should be to take experiences as they come; go with the flow. Expatriates need to live in a new way by adapting to the flow or rhythm of local life, reminding themselves they are now residents of Italy; though immigrants, Italy is now home. It may be a rather large undertaking moving to Italy, taking pre-emptive action can prepare an expatriate for much of what is to come.