My Expat Lives | 4 Years in Sardinia, Italy
On May 6th 2008, I left my home and native land for Sardinia, Italy.
How is it possible that four years have passed? I can’t believe it! I made the long trip back to Canada several times in the last few years. The time never enough, and some of my family have come to visit us in Sardinia and again, the time was never enough, but the memories will stay forever.
This will be one of my longer posts, so grab a glass of wine, some popcorn or a jar of Nutella. Just get comfortable.
Find out the ups and downs of expat life in Sardinia, Italy.
Here’s what I’ve learned in Sardinia, Italy
- Two new languages. I speak Italian – Io parlo l’italiano. I also write in Italian – Anche scrivo l’italiano. My Italian grammar sucks – La mia grammatica l’italiano non e buona. But I try – Ma provo. The dialect in this area is Gallurese and I’m able to follow along in most conversations. It’s a very barbaric dialect and I only know a few words and phrases, which I save for a select few. Everyone speaks dialect here. The only time I hear Italian is when someone speaks directly to me and the few hours of Italian TV in the evening. Arg.
- Everything happens tomorrow. Even tomorrow things will happen tomorrow.
- How to cook. I never cooked before Sardinia. The things I ate where prepared for me by my Mom, or pre-packaged in a box or bag. I made toast, fried eggs, and ate plain white pasta, yuck! That all changed when I hopped the pond to Sardinia, Italy. I slowly, over time learned the secrets to Italian cooking. I can show one for you here, now … it’s … patience.
- That life is meant to be lived. How you want and where you want. Just do it.
- Sardinia is the most fantastic place I have set foot in. Come see for yourself.
Other expat lives
From an early age I made the choice to lead a life of travel and adventure. I gave up the “cool things” that my friends were doing/buying, just so I could save up for a month-long stint in Brazil, Cuba or Greece.
I have been fortunate enough to have lived the expat life in the following countries:
1 year in Australia
1 year in England
2 years in Cayman Islands
4 years in Sardinia, Italy
I worked full-time as a waitress, working nights and days, picking up extra shifts, longer shifts, a double shift just so I could sample Italian gelato or sky dive at sunset in Australia or hike mountain ranges British Columbia.
With a lot of hard-work, living the dream is possible, but there are challenges.
When I wasn’t planning these month-long vacations, I was throwing the dart and chasing a dream, a dream to see, and live throughout our beautiful world.
There is always a next: the next town, city, beer, airport or acquaintance. While living one expat life, I was silently building and planning the next.
My third expat adventure came about one wine filled evening with friends.
“Just throw the dart.”
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
I researched this island and found it was an expat haven! Expats from all over the world had flocked to this stunning stretch of coast for years. Tax free, white sand beaches, a fantastic night life and lots of good work made Grand Cayman the ideal choice for me. It was here in Cayman that my future changed while I was busy partying in the present.
It was in Cayman where I met my fourth and longest expat adventure to date: Sardinia.
He was tall, mysteriously dark and utterly handsome. But with all those good looks came challenges.
I spent my first four years as an expat living in other English-speaking countries. The cultures were rather the same, the language was the same, mind a few slang words, and finding friends was easy, very easy.
Australia, England and Cayman Islands were all easy to adapt to in terms of fitting in as an expat.
Italy opened my eyes to the challenges other expats may face when moving to a foreign country. I have been privy to many of these obstacles and some I still face. Each day is a learning experience albeit in language, culture or traditions. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever really fit in, but these thoughts are few and far between when I look out my living room window to the amazing sea-view.
Here is a list of some challenges I have faced and fought while living the dream in Italy.
- Living the Dream. When I hear this from people back home I silently cringe. We can live the dream in any city, town or country in the world. It’s up to you, to find your dream and start living it. It was my choice to move to Italy and start a new life: my dream, my goals, and my destination. I worry about bills, health, and making ends meet just like everyone else.
- Language Barriers. Learning a new language while living in the host country can be a kick to your self-esteem. When I arrived in Italy I didn’t speak a lick of Italian. My self-esteem plummeted and I felt somewhat stupid. Stupid in the sense of not being able to take part in an ongoing conversation, not being able to follow said conversation and soon delving into my own English thoughts that related nothing to said conversation. I knew I had to change, and change fast or Italy would swallow me up forever. After four years in Italy I am still learning the language(s). I can hold conversations and follow along in others. It’s a daily struggle, an up-hill battle that only I can combat.
- Finding Friends. We all need a little friendship. In the three English-speaking countries that I lived in, finding and making friends was easy. I spoke the language. I understand the subtle body language and tones of voice. I knew what people were feeling just by the tone of their voice, it was English after all, my mother tongue. Here in small town Sardinia things are completely different. It’s a small town, smaller than I have ever lived in. Population 2000. Everyone knows everyone and they all stay safely close within their tight circle of friends and family. Wary of outsiders and their intentions but once these hurdles are fought, you will find a faithful friend forever.
- Cost of Living. Everything in Italy is expensive. Gas is €1.90 a litre, my favourite yogurt is €2.89, fresh string beans €7.00 a kilo, two pizzas from the local pizzeria cost €15-20, six imported bananas cost €2.02, for doctors’ visits I have paid over €800 in the last four years! Here a hundred, there a hundred! The list could really go on; from our outrageous electricity bills to a water bill that never arrives, life in Italy is an upside down mixing pot of confusion.
- The Unknown. I think one of the biggest problems Italy faces is the constant changing of laws, rules and prices. How can the price of a postcard stamp change so drastically? One day .80c the next €1.60, just ask my sister! There are so many unknowns in Italy that one wonders if the powers that be really understand what’s going on. For the locals it’s constant confusion by their governments. For the expat you hear, “You’re in Italy, get used to it!” I’m pretty much used to the unknown now, but I will continue to question why.
Happy 4th Year in Sardinia Anniversary to me!
Here’s to many more stories, tales and friendships!
How and where do you live your expat life? How have you overcome the challenges of living in a country so different from your own?