In this interview series we let our members take the spotlight! This week, we are introducing Misty, a former art student from the US who fell in love with Italy – and an Italian guy. She talks about her new life and her struggles with love, language, and culture on Surviving M.E.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Italy, etc.
My story is very cliché actually. I came to study art in a graduate program, met someone and stayed. I’ve been here since 2009. I am married to an Italian man.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I’ve been blogging since 2007, but I started to blog about Italy because I realized that so many students come here and literally know nothing. It seemed that a lot of expat sites were aimed more towards more established people, or people who were married with children in Italy.
Students are somewhere in the middle, so they have no idea where to find information. Italy is not particularly Internet savvy, so doing a Google search to find things isn’t that helpful.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
* 10 Reasons that I’m Surprised that Someone Married M.E.
* In Italian Families, Leaving the Table Is Like Announcing You’ve Eaten a Child
* 25 Things I’ve Learned about Italy
* Marriage Classes Brought to You by the Catholic Church
* Christmas in Italy: the Time the Blowdryer Ate My Mother-in-Law’s Head
* Moving to Italy: Studying And Living
Tell us about the ways your new life in Italy differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I didn’t really notice the differences or the culture shock until I started spending more and more time with my husband’s friends and family. The family dynamic, as well as the dynamic among friends, is very different between the United States and Italy. Theoretically I understood it because my father is a first-generation immigrant to the US, and I was raised in a multicultural household in a culture similar to Italian culture.
However, growing up in the US, socially I’m very American, and it was difficult to adapt to something so different. For example, Italians are big on small talk, something I’ve never enjoyed or been good at, especially with people that I’ve known for years. Even around Italian people I’ve known for three years, we still only talk about the weather, soccer, and politics, whereas Americans tend to open up a lot faster and they are more personal.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Italy? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I would have studied Italian until near fluency before moving here. The only thing that I really regret was not having a better grasp of the language earlier.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I have too many and could really write a book about them. One of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had is the time I woke up to find my mother-in-law ironing my thongs and my husband’s underwear. I had to practically wrestle them away from her. Italian mothers are famous for these kinds of antics.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Italy?
* LEARN ITALIAN FIRST.
* Have a sense of humor and just laugh at everything and read my blog. Seriously, you’ll get a feel for the life of actually living here which is much, much different than studying here.
* Oh, and careful with the guys! Italian men are big talkers, but you can’t always trust them. 😉
How is the expat community in Italy? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is really mixed here and it’s huge. There are really a lot of American women married to Italian men and vice versa. I have met a lot of very interesting people here.
How would you summarize your expat life in Italy in a single, catchy sentence?
Give me the pretty and keep your bullshit.