Posts Tagged ‘Getting Adjusted’

Three Differences Between Living in Italy and Living in America

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Living in Italy
Photo: Gari Baldi

For many people living in Italy is a dream. Heck, even those of us in Italy can appreciate her romance. But sometimes here in the bel paese we expats get stumped and confused and amazed at the differences. While there are, no doubt, more than these, here are the three biggest differences I’ve noticed between my two favorite countries.

1. A Name … is a Name … is a Name

Did you know that women in Italy don’t change their names when they get married?

Well, they don’t. In fact, it isn’t even an option.

That is where the feminist in me gets all riled up. If my husband and I lived in America, I might or might not have changed my name. However, I rebel against the fact that I don’t have that option and that Italy doesn’t give me the choice of whether I will share a last name with my children.

I just don’t wanna be left out … that is all.

2. Leaving With the One Who Brought You

Recently I have noticed how decidedly Calabrian it is to stick with the group you came with. In Italy-like in America- it is common for friends or couples to meet up for dinner or drinks.

The difference is that in Calabria, once you are with them – you are with them the whole night. Breaking away from the group or leaving early-even if you are tired, don’t feel well or have to work the next morning-is seen as insulting. In America, it is actually pretty normal for people to break away from the group at different times throughout the night, for various reasons, without offending the group.

3. It’s My Place, I’ll Pay

And this might have something to do with that.

In America, it is expected that when you go out for ice cream or coffee everyone will pick up his own tab … not so here in the bel paese. Apparently there is an unwritten code here in Calabria that if you take someone to “your” local bar, you are expected to pay.

If I had a quarter for every time someone told me, “You can pay for mine when I visit America,” well … I’d have enough to buy my own coffee.

But things aren’t always different … in fact, the longer I’m in Calabria, the more I realize that some things never change. Be sure to join me next week for the follow up to this post and to check out all the ways Texans are like Calabrians.

What about you? What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between your new country and your home?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer living in southern Italy. In addition to, she writes about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita. Comments and messages are welcome on both sites.

[ACC admin:] If you need to call Italy or make call from Italy, perhaps you might like to check out our calling cards for Italy?

If Moving Overseas Makes Me Independent … Why am I so Dependent?

Friday, August 28th, 2009

It has been more than three years since I bid farewell to my native Texas and headed across the pond-an independent young expat, ready to tackle Italy and the pasta-eating tribe of inhabitants that awaited me there. I was confident, in a clueless sort of way, that things would fall into place for me and that I’d quickly-and easily-adjust to my Calabrese life.

I look back on that hopeful naivety now with a smile and with the reassuring thought that had I known how quickly I’d lose my beloved independence … my journey might have been different.

Photo by: My Bella Vita

I remember with a kind of shocking absurdity the pride I felt that first time I ventured out alone, senza future husband. I walked down the walled-river path to the local supermercato in search of those must-have female items … Q-tips, hairspray, volumizing shampoo.

“No problem,” I thought as I entered the store and grinned at the salesperson who greeted me. “Piece of cake!”

Then I spent the next 30 minutes scrounging the store in search of afore-mentioned Q-tips, because, as I remembered about four aisles in, I didn’t know how to ask for them in Italian.

Those vulnerable feelings stayed with me through much of the following year, when my husband had to take a mini-course in hairstyling so he could tell my new hairdresser I wanted bangs and a right-side part … when he gave out his number to potential English students and agreed to make my appointments for me … when I couldn’t go to the doctor alone.

And let’s not get started on driving. And road signs. And parking.

I was plagued with the self-consciousness that accompanies losing your independence, yet it happened so gradually I hadn’t realized it. Then, one day I woke up. I didn’t feel anxious about driving to the store. I walked into the centro commerciale and was hit with a wave of something that was eerily familiar.

I couldn’t place it.

What was this feeling?

As I entered the supermercato and headed straight to aisle #8, I realized what it was.




I took a deep breath and laughed at the drama I’d once faced at buying a package of Q-tips.

Eccolo,” I told the lady as I checked out.

Solo i bastoncini cotonati …”

“Just the Q-tips!”

Have you had an “I’ve arrived” moment like this? What happened? Please share.

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer in southern Italy. In addition to, she writes about living and traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita. Comments and messages are welcome on both sites.

Ed: Why not make your next calls to Italy cheap?

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