A year ago I began a new life. Actually, it’s the same life, but in a new location. My family and I moved to Italy to live and work for three years. The decision to live overseas had been a dream of mine for a long time. And last year I was granted the opportunity to fulfill my dream.
I haven’t written a post in a long while, as I felt it best to adjust to my new surroundings and support my family. To be honest, I also wanted to wait until the newness of my new environment settled so I could provide a more objective view of what life has been like for the last year.
Moving to a new location can be a challenge. For those who are middle-aged it is can be even more of a challenge. By middle age, you have settled into your life and location. You have had the same job and friends for years, and for the most part like it that way. But some people in middle age question themselves, “Is this all there is?” and “What do I want for my life?” Obviously, I was part of the latter group. Several years prior to getting my job overseas, I began thinking of what it would be like and how I could make the dream of mine happen.
The last year has been one of highs and lows. Obviously, the high points have been to travel and experience amazing places. Our travels this year alone have surpassed any hopes I ever had about traveling. One of the greatest advantages of living overseas is the access to travel. Europe is vast, interesting and less expensive to visit when you live in a European county. Because we are only living in Italy for three years, we feel compelled to travel as much as possible. We spend hours looking at websites, formulating trips, and planning adventures. Each county we visit offers a new experience with food, culture, history, and people. The best part of living in Europe is being part of an amazing culture that is vast and diverse.
However, as high as the travels are for living in Europe, there are also some low points. Working overseas is not the same as traveling overseas. I have a job, and most of my time is spent working, not roaming the hills of Tuscany drinking wine. My friends and family view our photos, and convince themselves I do nothing other than eat wonderful food and see amazing sights. Of course this isn’t true. The work I do is stressful. As a matter of fact, this job is most stressful job I’ve ever had. The hours are long and packed with things to do. The newness of job is beginning to settle, so I’m hopeful the stress will lessen for the second year. Although we have a lovely Italian home, it’s far away from my job. My daily commute is over 1 1/2 hours a day. If I do take a shorter route, the traffic is stressful, comparable to LA traffic. Those of your know LA traffic know how crazy it must be. Often on the weekend, my husband, son and I sit around resting and recuperating from our long week. However, we make sure to take an outing at least one day each weekend, because we know we won’t be here forever. Time limits make us do more than we normally would do.
The lowest part of living and working overseas is to be far away from loved ones. We miss our family and friends, especially our two older boys. Both boys were able to visit us this summer, but when the summer ended so did their visit. Last year my middle son lived with our friends to complete his senior year. We were fortunate to have the support for him while we were away, but realized parenting from afar isn’t easy. Your child isn’t in your home, and you don’t have a physical presence to ensure things are getting done or rules are being followed. Due to our location, we weren’t able to be back in the states for the start of college for both older boys this fall. A mixture of guilt and sadness exists for my husband and I, as we have always been involved parents and to not be there to support them both feels strange. Several situations have happened in the last year with both boys, and we’ve only been able to provide support via phone, or chat. This is normal for all college bound parents, however our situation is more of a challenge due to the time difference.
Another low point has been the adjustment to our new situation. My husband and young son have been slow to adjust to living in Italy. They are both doing better now, but it hasn’t been easy. They’ve had to adjust to a new culture to live and work in. My son went from attending a progressive school to a traditional one. He has had to make new friends, and adjust to a life he would have not chosen for himself. Knowing my family wasn’t happy has made me feel sad, as I know I’m the one responsible for the choice to live overseas.
So what do I think about this new life experience so far? Frankly, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never thought of myself as being brave, but I do now. The challenges I have faced this year have surpassed anything I’ve done previously. I’ve realized my family and I are quite capable. We have developed skills of resilience and patience. We’ve learned new ways to communicate and to support each other. We’ve all gone way outside our comfort zone and survived. This opportunity my family and I have is a chance of a lifetime. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t say that to myself, despite all of the challenges.
I am grateful for the support my family has provided each day for my work, and for reminding where my roots are. The roots of your life are what keep you stable when the winds are strong, or the rain weaken the ground. And let me tell you, there have been some strong winds and rain in Italy.
Hopefully, this post will get me on track again to writing for my blog. I know many of you have asked me to start writing again. I will do my best. In the meanwhile, enjoy some photos of our first year living abroad. Ciao!