Things your expat friend wants you to know

In the modern age of travel, with the huge trend in gap years and discovering one’s self abroad, most groups of friends will have at least one expat friend. Perhaps they spend just a few months away and return even more hipster than before, or perhaps they consistently jet off, reappearing with new tales, particular tastes in food, and an increasingly odd fashion sense. You may feel like they don’t need you any more when they brag about their quirky, courageous, international friends, or that they’re not interested in your everyday life with their entirely different experiences. But as a three-year long expat, trust me: they still need you, and they are still interested. You are their perfect reminder of their home country, and probably the reason for their return visits. So, before you drop them from your life, let’s clear a few things up:

  1. They REALLY appreciate you visiting. When you move abroad, everyone promises to visit you countless times, but only a handful will go through with that promise. It’s understandable: everyone has busy, expensive lives, so finding the time and money is difficult. Expats know this (they make several journeys a year, so fully understand the cost of travel), and so appreciate even more so the ones who put in the effort to visit them, no matter how long their stay. Not only that, but the excitement of sharing their new life with you is like no other: they can act as a tour guide, create new stories with you, and most importantly finally have someone understand exactly what their life is like in this foreign place.

  2. But often, they aren’t just “on holiday”. This isn’t always the case, since everyone does it differently. Some people will save enough money beforehand to allow them full-time travel, but those doing study or work abroad courses, or who independently found work to support their time away, don’t have the constant holiday time that people assume. If they take it a step further and integrate themselves into the society, or make the move permanent, their timetable will be full of everyday appointments just as yours. Don’t assume that because they are in a holiday destination they are “on holiday”, or expect them to always be free for your visits. Give them some notice if you want to plan a trip, so they can make some time for you.

  3. They still want to be included. Just because they can’t make events 95% of the time, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear about them, and it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be invited. You never know, they might be able to organise a return trip around a social event. It might seem like they’re out of reach, but thanks to wifi and Europe wide phone contracts, they can be constantly available for messages and phone calls just as when they were at home. Sure, they might not be able to have a spontaneous lunch date at the pub between work, but they can answer the phone in a second to hear your story about the creepy guy in the club. As an expat, the worst thing about going home is discovering all the changes that have happened with friends, while I was completely oblivious. So tell them your stories as if they were still in the same country.

  4. They will change. Whether they want to or not, it’s only so long before the other culture finds its way in to their daily habits and behaviour. They might not want to return as a snob to their own traditions, but probably some of these traditions are going to seem strange after discovering different ways and become immersed in them. Just give them a couple of days to readjust to the homeland, and they’ll be back to their pub-going, pint-downing, takeaway-eating English self again in no time.

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Read-in-Tranquillity: Parco Castello Bonoris, Montichiari.

with Desperate Characters by Paula Fox

It might not be the tourist-centre of Italy, but Montichiari – only a twenty minute drive from the south-east side of Lake Garda, and forty minutes from Verona – does hold a few unique delights. One of these is Castello Bonoris, one of the most confusing, un-historic yet historical castles I have yet to visit.

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A Taste of Home

Everyone knows that Italian food is the best in the world; at least, that’s what any Italian will tell you. It’s true that my taste-buds have never been left unsatisfied here, and that nearly everyone Italian household has a passion for cooking that unfortunately you don’t find so much in the pre-prepared, pre-cooked culture of Britain. However, there are some British foods that just aren’t available here, an atrocity considering they should be high up on the compulsory food list. Continue reading

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My Issues with Italy: 5 Whys

After three years here, I’ve got fairly used to Italian life, “la vita Italiana”, even picking up several habits and norms which don’t fit in so well in England (see Signs I’ve Been in Italy too Long). Things which tourists always point out as strange (paying for coffee after drinking it, having shutters but no curtains, rarely having a kettle) now seem completely normal to me. That said, there are still the odd nuances that continue to strike me as so foreign, no matter how many times I confront them – mainly because of their illogicality.

I love you Italy, but there’s a few issues I’d like to bring forward. For instance, why…

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On international dating…

As you may have noticed from brief mentions in previous posts, I’ve finally succumb to the charm and got an Italian boyfriend. I won’t lie that I was a bit uneasy about the idea. There are certain stereotypes about Italian guys that I’m sure we’ve all heard: sleazy mothers’ boys who are very romantic, yes, but are so with several women at the same time.

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On missing Italy…

My recent lack of posts has another excuse: I am not actually in Italy at this time. Why would I leave such a beautiful country, food, host family and boyfriend, you might ask? Well, I was asking myself the same questions within the first week of returning. Continue reading

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Signs I’ve been in Italy too long…

In some ways, I am still exceptionally English. I insist on going outside even when I have a cold, because – despite the Italians fear that a slight breeze will give us all fever – my mother taught me that fresh air is the cure for everything. I jump into the water before it is as warm as the summer air, because my childhood experience of swimming in outdoor water was always a challenge to how long you could stand the cold. And, frustratingly when it comes to social plans in Italy, I prefer my dinner before sunset.

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