ONE YEAR IN ITALY, EIGHT THINGS THAT I HAVE LEARNT
Oh my you guys, 365 days gone!
I cannot believe it! It is one good year since I left home.
Sometimes, I look back, and wonder if I ever made the right choice you know? Leaving my job, family, friends, and Kenya in pursuit of love and happiness. Was it the right choice? …
This is a question that I ask myself almost every single day. You know, especially those gray days, days when you wake up and nothing is just right. And almost every day, it gives me so much joy to realize that I couldn’t have done it differently.
See here on my article on choosing love over career
Of course, it has not been a walk in the park. Anyone who has ever relocated will tell you that there are bad days, and then there are bad bad days, and then there are worst days! But through all that, what really counts is fitting in. Doing everything possible to make sure YOU BELONG.
And to belong, it takes a lot! I have come to terms with the fact that I will have to do almost everything that I never imagined to do. Sometimes I even shock myself at how fast I am ready to say YES to almost everything. I have learnt to tighten my belt and to make sure I make it happen, whatsoever.
So, living in Italy, one year down the line- what have I learnt?
1.You have to be legal
Without papers in Italy, everything is a nightmare. In fact, a horror movie. I have talked to my friends and family abroad, just to share stories and we are all in agreement that documentation is key for anyone who is looking into a permanent relocation. In one way or another, if you have to survive in a foreign country, you MUST be legal, and to be legal, you must find a strategy. In Italy for example, for ‘extra’ community persons as they call it i.e. the Non-E.Us , if you intend to stay in the country for more than a week, you will be required to present yourself to the police within eight days of arrival. After which you may book an appointment to apply for a permit of stay (which takes about 3-6 months ). And that my friend, is just the beginning of the documentation process. If you intend to stay longer, you may need to consider having a residency permit and a heath card as well. As vain as the documentation bit may sound, if you don’t have them, almost no local company will employ you. Without proper documentation, you are as good as ‘go back home to your country.’
2. Be humble
Woah – you guys! Humility goes a long way. When you are out of your country, you are NO ONE! You are just like any other person. Nothing matters. Here, we are all the same, there is nothing like oh I am from this family, from this background, that I know someone here or there, NO people, it doesn’t work like that, you are just you. And the barrier between you and success is you. So how you handle it is you!. Like Kendrick Lamar in his song…you got to be humble.
Be ready to do whatsoever. Nothing here comes on a golden platter. I have had some pretty interesting experiences here. Story for another day but you can check a sneak peak here. All I just have to underline and highlight is that humility goes a long way.
3. Be persistent
It may all sound vain, but persistence is the only way out. You have to believe in yourself and keep pushing. I have met ‘hooves’, who have given me lots of BS, they even did threaten me, just because you stood my ground and said NO. But you know what, know your worth, know your value. Be persistent in your search. Never ever do anything against your wish because you have to make ends meet. I am a believer in happiness and I tell everyone I know If your job does not make you smile when you wake up, my friend, think twice! Stop rocking on a chair. Do something and move on. Know your worth and don’t waste your time, and especially, your employers time.
4. Friends and family
This one has to be the most important of all lessons.
I have always known the worth of friends and family, but, it is only since I moved away from home that I realized there is nothing I can do without a stable support system. My friends and family ( both in Kenya and Italy ) rose to the occasion. Something they didn’t apply for. They have been with me on this journey. I would have never done it alone and I cannot do it alone. You know how they say that guys abroad get so lonely that when we call home we always want to stay on phone for hours and even talk to the cat when the humans are tired of talking? Oh yes, that happens. My family and friends, they have never said NO. They are always ready to listen even when they have had a nasty day. I have never valued friends and family like I do now. They are my strongest pillars.
5. Love your new environment
New environments can be very annoying at times. I love Rome to the core. For me, it is one of the best places in the world if not the best. But then! Oh my, there are days I wake up and everything annoys me! It starts with the garbage outside, the dirty streets, the awful smell in the metro and the autobus! But then I realize, my home will never be Kenya again ( at least not for now) and just when that clicks in, is when I realize that I have to love my new country. And that is what holds me back and I try to renew the love.
6. Cultural difference
Italians are very welcoming, warm and loveable. Honestly, until now, I have not faced anything tragic that can make me think otherwise. In fact, I can only say good things about Italians.
I am still learning to take coffee as a social habit, am also learning to eat late as a social habit and functioning on a constant adrenaline rush as a work habit.
But wait, let’s talk about something that pisses me off…
I really have to rant about this only because something happened yesterday. I went out with friends and from nowhere, I mean nowhere, yaani from the blues, I had a craving for a smoke, I mean literal craving for a cigarette!
“How is it possible?” I asked myself! doing the hand motion that Italians do.
Damn it! It is because literally, everyone here smokes! They blow smoke directly into my nostrils without apology!! It’s outrageous, it is absurd! And without realizing, over time, I am becoming dependent. I honestly believe this is wrong! Coming from a country where smoking is forbidden in public ( Good job Kenya! )to where smoking is acceptable that even policemen smoke when on duty- for me it’s absolutely shocking! But hey, isn’t that the beauty of cultural difference?
Oh, but on a serious note though, to you all my Italian friends, please RESTRAIN from blowing your smoke direct into my nostrils, we can not be in a room and you assume I am ok with you smoking next to me. Be nice, go outside and harm your own lungs by yourself. I don’t want to be party to your habit. Fyuks! I finally said it. I feel better.
7. Be open minded
Be ready to go everywhere and everything. See here
8. Pray, or look up to super forces
Whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, do something. Whatever you do, accompany it with prayers. If you are a nonbeliever, do what you guys do. Seek guidance through higher forces or science to see you through your ways. Somehow, it comes a long way.
* see what I did there 🙂 I am sensitive -to both believers and nonbelievers:-)
Oh also, because I have realized that people here rarely go to church. If only they knew how many times my mother prays! She even cracked a joke the other day saying she has a lot of challenges and that she has begun praying double-double. Oh, Mama! She made me laugh. And I still laugh thinking about it. What a way to finish writing this with a smile on my face.
All in all, I am still on the learning curve and pushing to settle in. Like Lego, I know that I will for sure find my stability. What about you, do you have any experiences to share about being away from home, even if it was away from your home town? Please leave comments below:-)
Special shout out to Ugenya Divas, Gloria Obare, Phoebe Schwartz and Stephanie Keza for the delicious farewell cakes. I continue to be humbled. Thanks!
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