When you realize that you have settled down
And here we come, the last part of my first 640 days as an expat. After having overcome the cultural shock, knocked down the language barrier, and left all the darkest times at our back, we are finally ready for our first longer, healing summer vacation back to Italy.
So, it is July again, and the three of us (me and the kids) are ready to leave, with the strange feeling of going back as tourists, more than returning home.
FROM DAY 351- TO 440
…A VAGABOND LIFE
- The Healing
The instant connection you feel when you return to a familiar place is sometimes more powerful than many treatments against anxiety. You immediately feel regenerated, embraced, and healed by the people and landscape that belong to your comfort zone. A summer spent back to Italy completely restored my son, after a very dense year: grandma’s food was our daily drug, and speaking our familiar language was the psychotherapy we all did.
- Not Fitting In
However, no matter how hard you pretend that you are still the same, sooner or later you end up admitting that you do not belong anymore to the place in which you were born. Many of the expats experienced this after they had moved. As for me, I have always thought of myself as a vagabond, detached from places but not from people, a richer person as I do not own a house, but I have many homes. I call it freedom, but sometimes I am feeling cursed. My only regret, if this can be called a regret, is that I passed it down to my sons. I know they will be vagabonds, like me.
- Shifting Between 2 Lives
It was when I was packing for my trip to Italy that I realized how many things in my life had become double. Now in my late thirties, I am finding myself living a kind of 2 lives, 2 systems, 2 worlds. And you know what? The most frightening thought for me now would be to choose to live just one of the 2!
This is a graphic representation of what I have double in my life.
FROM DAY 441 TO 640
… OUR NEW BALANCE
After a summer soaked into beauty, great food with family, and wine with friends, we finally managed to return to our US base. A massive cleaning of the house kept me busy for the first week or so, my personal way to regain balance with my other life. A new school year began…
- A Student House
On my 441st day as an expat, I changed my visa (and social) status, from F2 = spouse of a student, to F1 = student. Yes, after the previous year, I decided that to be an SHM (Stay at Home Mom) was not for me. I needed a project, I needed to learn more. I became a graduate student, attending classes with kids of almost half of my age. Sharing assignments with my family, readings, projects and being here all together with the goal of educating ourselves, is something priceless (well, actually it costs a lot, but it’s money well spent).
- Happiness, Finally
With ups and downs, we have reached a certain stability. We looked for help for those of us who needed it the most, and we all became stronger. We started to take advantage of all the good things we can have here. We stopped resisting changes and we started to absorb some aspects of the new culture we live in. We all became well aware that the more we are progressing, the more we are getting equidistant from both the Italian and the American culture…we are relentlessly and inevitably becoming global (or hybrid) citizens.
- The Language Monstrosities
The final part of this journey is a very funny side-effect of raising 2 bilingual kids. They are amazing as they can speak English so well (I am so jealous!) and without an accent. As for me and my husband, we ended up speaking both languages with a strong accent. When I speak Italian, as I am thinking in English, it turns out to be sloppy and with an inflection. When I speak English, people can still spot I am not native (uff…). I wish I had kept a more accurate journal of these monstrosities, but enjoy some of the most recent ones…