There are some days where I wake up, look at my beautiful view of the mountains right outside my door, and realize that I live in Italy. ITALY! This was the one country I wanted to visit the most, and I had hoped that if we were ever to be stationed overseas that we would get Italy. About 50% of the time, I really enjoy living here. I love the food and the language (even though I do not speak it well enough!). I love Anya’s school, and all the girls are getting very acclimated to their lives here. I love that we can see so many things – history, culture, different countries – that we could not afford if we were not living here. It is an opportunity for us to experience another world, and I want to take full advantage of it.
Then there is the remaining 50% of the time. Life here is different – not always bad but not always great either. I have struggled with blending into the culture and people here. We are used to certain conveniences that are not here – 24 hour stores and gas stations, drive-through windows for banks and food, stores like Target and Walmart that literally sell everything under one roof, and understanding the language of everyone, to name a few. When I need to pay a bill here, I have to use a post office and pay in all in cash. When my car needs to be fixed, I have to track down my own parts from the states and find a mechanic who can work on my American car (although the one I used today was awesome!). All the groceries, clothes, shoes, electronics, and books I am used to buying and using are not all here either. I hate feelings stupid as I try to communicate with people and as I try to live a normal life here. During this 50% of the time, I feel frustrated and yearn for my convenient, American life.
I know, how am I complaining? It’s Italy! It’s Europe! I do treasure the experiences I am having and will have. It is great that my kids will be able to say that they lived in another country. Somedays, the inconveniences and the struggles with a different daily life really add up, and you lose focus of the benefits of living in another country. Today, my car was supposed to be fixed – but one of the parts I ordered is too big, which means I have to wait another 2-4 weeks for it to get here and spend another day with a friend driving me around while I wait for the van to be fixed. It took me all day to finish the laundry since I can only use the washing machine and dyer one at a time. Situations like this make me yearn for the states again and my excessive use of electricity, shuttle car services, and less work for me! A friend of mine wrote on Facebook today about having to get medicine for her sick child – a 25 minute drive to base since no stores were open around her house. I quickly learned to buy and keep stock of anything that you might need in the middle of the night – aspirin, pedialyte, batteries, all kinds of things I could normally run to a Walgreens for!
I want to love it here, and I try. I have to be honest in saying that I do not love it, although I do not hate it either. When we moved here, I heard people give estimates of 6-12 months for you to get used to living here. If you still hate it after this time frame, you will probably never like it. I hope I do not feel like that come May, which will mark our first year here. I know that every duty station has its advantages and disadvantages. I factor in that we are going through a deployment too, which always makes life more complicated. I have to remind myself that this is a limited period of our lives here, and we may never get to return here (we have three kids, we’re lucky we can afford food with the economy). But somedays, I just need to get it out – I was unprepared for life in another country, and it is definitely challenging. I just need to keep positive about life and the adventures we can have here. Barcelona next month, hopefully Paris and Austria again this summer – I have a lot to look forward to and be thankful for.
***Little fact, since my post was a little negative today – it is actually beneficial to be a little unhappy. The unhappiness forces you to make a choice to change things or to look forward. So I just need to use this for my greater good! Thanks for the info Women’s Day!***