Successfully Planted

I wanted to write this post to my fellow expats. To those of you who have made the move – and made a successful life for yourselves in a new country. And by success, I don’t mean monetary riches or wordly possessions – but those of you who have made the move and feel planted.

I planned to write out my daily routine for you, which I expected to sound empty and meaningless. I thought my life, when written down on paper (or in this case, a computer screen), would look dull. I thought you all would have a world of advice just waiting for me when you took one look at what I do everyday.

But, I was wrong.

I realized I actually have a very full life. I am awakened almost daily with coffee in bed. I get to spend the entire morning with the love of my life, working hard on a business we will own. All of my meals are prepared for me (which, if you knew how well I cook, you would realize is a very-good-thing). In the afternoon I get to take a nap, and then wake up and work on another company I started with my best friend. In the between moments, I am planning, what I imagine will be, a beautiful wedding.

So, what is the problem?

Fellow expat in Calabria , “Bleeding Espresso” (whose post I would link here if I knew how) recently wrote about lifelong friends in Italy. Everything she wrote is true. Peppe has a core group of friends who have been his best pals for 20 years. And, let me tell you, they are wonderful. These guys are the tops. Sometimes if Peppe is working, his friends will pick me up and take me out – just to get me out of the house. I have all of their numbers programed in my phone, and I have no doubt they wouldn’t be there for me in an instant if I needed them.

So, what is the problem?

They are Peppe’s friends.

They aren’t mine.

My one true moment of shining glory came a few weeks ago when I was still in Texas. Peppe was at a bar and saw a somewhat familiar -looking face. The man smiled and when Peppe looked uncertain he replied, “You are Peppe, right? Cherrye’s fiance?”

In a world where I have become known as “Peppe’s fidanzata” or “Nino’s nuora” or the americana” it was a welcome change.

I need more moments like that.

So, my fellow expats…my successfully planted counterparts – my question to you is this.

How do ya do it? If we can’t break into the “circle of trust” that Italians created for themselves many many years ago, and, if living in American-sparse Calabria doesn’t offer many expat-gathering opportunities – how do we make this move and become successfully planted?

How do ya do it?

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Comments

  1. I’m still not at a place where I have girlfriends to hang around with, although if I really wanted to, I have plenty of sister-in-laws to choose from…anyway, we’ll just have to get together, drag Dawn out of Reggio, and speak English loudly. I happened to meet an Australian woman in Soverato who has been here for 25 years the other day, so you never know what you’ll find here in Calabria. Like you said, though, you can get so wrapped up in day to day life, you don’t realize that you aren’t devoting enough time to something else. But the Internet is good. At least we can make the initial connections this way and then go from there, right? Piano piano….

  2. You have to dedicate some of your time to it. You have to talk to people a lot and when someone seems appealing, ask them about themselves. People appreciate a genuine interest.
    Once you know an italiana a bit, you can be frank about missing having girlfriends and doing girl stuff. Slowly they will ask you along when they do things. Be available.
    Now that I have close friends I hear what they say. “Expats walk around with each other all the time and don’t look like they are really interested in us.” “They only come around when they need something.” “They don’t like what we like.”
    Are all of those fair? Of course not. But it isn’t fair to say no italian women are available for friendship, either. The more educated and traveled the lady, the more apt she is to be available to you. But people who share your passions can find you worthwhile, too. Fashion, cooking, music, wine… as many things as you like there are Italian women who like them too.
    You both have strong bonds with Italian men, and that’s fabulous. But although all your free time may now be with them, if you want girlfriends you will have to break away and be available sometimes.

  3. Judith, of course you’re right about being available, but your “the more educated and traveled the lady is” part really hits to the heart of the matter down where we are–there just aren’t a lot of women like that here, and if there are, they’re traveling *away* from here! I’ve now had this happen with three Italian girlfriends I have made–all now in the north for work 🙁 Literally every other Italian woman I’ve met here is constantly with her mother; I’ve gone to the market in the morning with one girlfriend only to have her mother waiting for us when we got off the bus! Don’t get me wrong, if my mom were here, I’d be with her all the time too, but that doesn’t leave much room for those of us who are mom-less…it’s a tricky process to be sure. I think, though, there is a time for everything, and it’ll happen when it’s meant to. Don’t forget, I was here for a year and a half without a significant other–it wasn’t any easier then when I had much more time to myself.

    Oh, and Cherrye, to link to a post, open a different browser/window and go to the post you want to link to. Copy the address. Then on your compose message page, highlight the text you want the link to be connected with and click on the green halo-ed globe; paste the link into that box and click OK. Hyperlink!

  4. Cherrye, I’m happy to find you back at your blog. I look forward to reading more about Catanzaro and what it is like living there.

    I’m not an expat nor a woman, but I think your experience you describe is no different from any outsider’s experience anywhere that’s not cosmopolitan. I worked at a mountain climbing school in Silverton CO for about five years and so lived there and I’m sure I would have been more accepted by the locals of Catenzaro than of Silverton.

  5. I have wondered that very same thing. i am not in Italy yet but the moving process is starting and I expect to be moved by the end of the year. It is so interesting to read about yall who have already made the trip and it is so nice to know others have been through what I find myself dealing with now. I look forward to reading more. =)

  6. Judith you are very right about generalizations, and I actually think Michelle has it worse in her little village than I have here in Catanzaro.

    I have found most of the people (girls) to be nice enough, but just not as open and as friendly as we are in Texas.

    And, J – you are right, too. You can feel like an outsider no matter where you are…

    My new year’s resolution (if I had them) would be to get out and meet more people!

  7. Ciao Cherrye, I forgot to comment on this – I guess the only thing I can say is concentrate on making friends, period. If they are American-Indian-Asian, just go with it and embrace that support system (much like your blogger friends) – It does take time to become friends with Italian women but I never beat myself up for having more international friends in the meantime.

    Also, you have to meet people – through work or volunteering, or whatever in order to meet a range of people interested in making friends. That may be hard for you where you are but maybe teaching some English or organizing an international night somewhere (even if you’re the only international one!) might be interesting.

    It will take time, but in the meantime, you’re not alone!

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