The reason for this series is to showcase people who have already achieved what the ThreeYear family is working towards: location independence and/or securing international jobs. Since we’re not sure which route we’ll take, we thought we’d hear from people who’ve already achieved one or the other, so we can learn more.
Today, I’d like to introduce you to Adriana, who blogs at Money Journey. Adriana and her boyfriend have lived in Italy for the past nine years. When Adriana first arrived in Italy, she had no job, spoke very little Italian, and hadn’t even finished college! Now, nine years later, she has a freelance career, has traveled all over the continent, and even occasionally gets mistaken for an Italian! I think you’ll find her story very interesting, especially if you’ve ever considered living abroad.
My name is Adriana and I’ve been living in Italy with my boyfriend for the past nine years.
We’re not married yet, nor do we have any kids or pets.
All our friends who keep asking me why, get the same reply: he doesn’t want to get married for convenience, but love. And yes, everyone is equally confused by the answer! [Laurie: Sounds like he needs a new line!]
Kidding aside, we do love each other very much. Having someone by your side when moving abroad makes things much easier!
Decision to Move to Italy
I initially came to Italy for a seasonal job. I was attending college and wanted to earn some serious money during my summer vacation.
I had debt to pay off, a comfortable job that was waiting for me and college to finish (I had two more years left).
Cupid, however, had other plans. I met my boyfriend on the job and fell in love.
We’re from the same city and lived a few blocks apart! Yet, we never met back home! What are the odds?
Despite my family and friends insisting I come home, I decided to stay.
We moved in together about one month into our relationship and have lived in Italy ever since.
Process of Finding Jobs
Finding a full time job was extremely difficult at first.
I didn’t speak the language and living in a small town offered few possibilities.
For a few (long) months, I was unemployed.
Meanwhile though, I put my free time to good use: started learning Italian, got my documents in order (applied for residency, etc.) and became a Red Cross Emergency Service volunteer. Aside from doing something meaningful, I’ve met many amazing people who have helped me feel right at home here!
Finding a job in Italy isn’t all that difficult. There are many foreigners here who have built good lives for themselves and their families.
However, most of these jobs are unqualified work with minimum pay. While there is nothing wrong with that, learning the language and having few skills did help me find better opportunities.
Currently, I freelance, but until I made up my mind about it, I did change quite a few jobs.
Hardest Part about Moving/Working in a Foreign Country?
The hardest part about moving abroad is, without doubt, leaving all your loved ones behind.
I miss my family and friends back home every day, but the good news is technology makes everything easier!
Not only that, but when I feel like it, I can very well hop on a plane and go visit them!
Another common problem foreigners face is nationalism.
However, I’ve never had any particular problems in this area myself.
Everyone I’ve ever met was friendly and accepting. Heck, I’ve even been told I act like an Italian already!
The best part of living abroad is experiencing a whole new lifestyle!
I’m proud to say I fit right in over here and not long after I’ve moved, I started to feel like home.
I guess it’s safe to say I have two homes now 🙂
Ever since I started freelancing full time, traveling has become a big part of my life.
Although I don’t consider myself to be location independent (my boyfriend has a “normal” job, so we have to “stay put”), I’m proud to say I’ve visited many places and loved each and one of them!
So far I’ve been in Germany (Berlin, Hamburg and a few other small cities), Switzerland (Lugano is simply breathtaking), Hungary and Romania [Laurie: This would be such a perk of living in Europe!!].
As far as Italy goes, I’m proud of my checklist so far: Venice, Milan, Parma (I attended college here for two years, beautiful city!), Genoa and a few other big cities. Lake Garda and Lake Como are amazing. The Ligurian and Adriatic Seas as well.
I’m not sure if I’m able to pick a favorite spot though. I’d have to travel some more to be sure!
Funny Culture Shock Moments
Italians are very proud people. They’re proud of their culture, their food, their country in general.
Seeing how I was a foreigner among Italians, it’s only natural I’ve experienced quite a few funny culture shock moments!
1. Italians really do talk with their hands! I’ve actually adopted the habit myself. Today, unless I flip my hands all over the place, I simply cannot have a normal conversation!
2. Italians consider American coffee to be gross. To them, the only true coffee is the one that gives you a heart attack! I nearly had one myself, first time I ever had a real Italian espresso!
3. Don’t ever attempt to add ketchup on your pizza. Or mayonnaise to your pasta dish [Laurie here: do people really do that? Yuck!] . Hard to believe, but they really do get mad if someone “insults” food!
Impact on Finances
At first, being unemployed was tough.
I was in debt and so was my boyfriend. Financially speaking, moving abroad probably wasn’t the wisest decision at the moment.
We managed to make it work though!
We downsized (that took a while–who wants to rent to a couple with debt and one of them unemployed?), we budgeted like crazy people and started living way below our means!
The good thing is, we’re now debt free and finally doing OK.
The bad part is, the experience was somewhat traumatizing. To this day, I’m constantly afraid we’ll run out of money and have to live “on the cheap” again.
Would I Recommend This Life to Others?
Living abroad has been (and still is) an amazing experience!
While saying goodbye to places and people you grew up with isn’t easy, it’s safe to say I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Having the ability to quickly adapt to change is crucial though.
Regardless of the destination, you’d have to fit into a different culture, change your lifestyle habits and be strong enough to mentally cope with being far away from home.
Others may not be that flexible, in which case moving abroad can turn out to be more of a negative experience, rather than a positive one.