What no one tells you about living abroad.

I remember as a little kid waking up from sleepovers in elementary school opening my eyes and thinking, "Whoa, wait, this isn't my room," and laughing when I remembered why I wasn't home.

As I opened my eyes and the light streamed through the red shuttered windows, I had the same feeling I hadn't experienced since elementary school. The sheets smelled different than the ones at home and lacked that soft fresh out of the dryer feeling and my pj's still smelled slightly of the London hostel I stayed in.

I remember sitting up and thinking, "Holy crap. I'm actually living in Italy." 

That thought is one that hits me regularly. If I'm being honest, I have felt so incredibly guilty these past few weeks. Everyone keeps telling me how amazing and how special this opportunity is, and how jealous they are of this life that I've made for myself. But, there are some days when I sit down and I wonder if I'm going to survive the whole year. Can I really make it an entire year on my own?

There are so many things that people forget to tell you when you move abroad. Obviously, it is indeed amazing, and I truly feel very happy to be here, but there are times when the clouds roll in, and it's hard not to notice how much my life has changed in the month I've been in Italy. With all that being said, here are a few things about my new life, that really make me miss my old one.

6. I've said it before and I'll say it again, THE DRIVERS ARE CRAZY! I got so stressed out driving because I was constantly being honked at, flipped off and driven around. Now, I've accepted that it's a part of my life. I drive the speed limit. I follow the traffic signs. I stop at red lights. I know how to properly use a round-about (Italians, get it together on that one, PLEASE). So for the next year, I've accepted my role as a non-Italian driver, and I'm okay with it.

5. The simplest of things will have to be explained to me because I can't read the directions. My first day of school I found a parking spot, went to go pay for the ticket and stood there stupidly and pushed buttons. Frustrated and embarrassed, I stepped back and said, "Yeah, you go ahead," to the person politely waiting and watching as I lost the battle of paid parking. (Then kindly explained that I needed to give it money before the buttons would work.) 

4. Restaurants terrify me. All I can order on my own at this point without having a panic attack is a cappuccino or a glass of red wine. Yes. It's irrational. Yes, I would like someone to order for me like I was 5. (Any takers? I can't pay you but I'll share my food with you.) But not knowing if you are going to be able to find the right words to speak to someone is so intimidating. I've never had to deal with a language barrier before. I've never walked into a room and known that I'm the only one there that speaks my language. It's utterly terrifying.

3. The people are so different. Just from the expressions they use when talking, to the tone of voice. The family I stay with is very loud. I felt so uncomfortable the first time I actually had to yell to get the children's attention. I think they were a little stunned, too because I'm constantly reminding them not to yell. Going shopping in Milan with my friend Delphi was also an eye opener. Going to the mall at home means throwing on some clothes, no make up, putting my hair up and finding a few outfits that are acceptable for whatever I need. In a fashion capital, the rules are a little different. Finding my own style is something I'm incredibly excited about while living here.

2. The food. Gosh I just want a bowl of chips and queso so badly. Who knew it was possible to eat too much Italian food? The family I live with eats a lot of food similar to what I did at home, but man, there are a lot of things here that I just really miss. (Mostly Mexican food, to be honest.)

1. I've never been one to be homesick, overly nostalgic or even sad over not being in a place, but I have to admit, I really miss Montana. The tailgating (which I have desperately tried to explain, but really Kegs and Eggs is about as American as it gets), the football, the changing leaves on University Avenue and the cold nights spend around a fire talking with friends are just a few of the things that I've really started to miss.  I took this job because I was certain that I wasn't going to want to leave Europe after I made it to London. I can't even begin to describe how shocked I was when people asked how I was doing, and the homesick truth slid out. 

The month I've spent in Italy has taught me a lot about who I am as a person. I keep going even when I don't think I can. My limitations are the only ones that are holding me back. I have to keep re-adjusting my expectations in order to help focus on the positives of the day rather than the negatives. 

And, the piece of reassurance my mom and my grandmother always tell me, you can do anything for a year.

 

Until next time,

B

Brooke Johnston2 Comments