Travel + Expat Month: May + June 2018

Frustrated in Florence

Let's just call these past two months Frustrated in Florence... or actually, let's extend that to our entire year of living here in Florence. Holy moly guys, I know being an expat and settling in anywhere in the world is difficult but moving to Italy is a whole new ballgame; I feel like I've been thrown from Little League straight into the MLB without ever having hit a home run. Not one for the baseball references? How about it feels like I've been running uphill backwards while pulling a wheelbarrow full of sand and herding a group of tired toddlers while crowds are chucking tomatoes at me. And no, this is definitely not an exaggeration.

 A pretty view to help counteract my not so pretty words...

A pretty view to help counteract my not so pretty words...

Let's back it up a bit, shall we? The fact that I haven't yet written much about life in Florence has been a conscious decision. I wanted to give the city a fighting chance to win my heart, especially since Vilnius was definitely not love at first sight, but if you've been around awhile, you'd know that about 6 months into living in Vilnius, I fell in love. I even tried my best to make Florence as homey to me as possible, and we definitely succeeded in that with our apartment (if you want a brief nosy into our apartment, let me know) and making friends. But after a year of this constant struggle, I felt it was time to fess up and stop avoiding the elephant in the room.

 The dates on my Permisso di Soggiorno...

The dates on my Permisso di Soggiorno...

Guys, I don't love living in Florence. In fact, I'm not even sure I can say that I like living in Florence. It is simply just okay, with most days leaning towards incredibly frustrating. The immigration processes in Florence particularly (I've heard wait times are a lot better in other cities) is just absurd; it took me more than 10 months from the time of application to receive my Permisso di Soggiorno (permission to stay card), and it expired 5 days after I received it--it actually expired today (July 1), although I picked it up on Monday. I reapplied for my second permisso on Thursday and the second step is scheduled for the last week of November, oh boy (I hope you can feel the sarcasm and eye rolls through my words).

But of course, immigration is shockingly difficult, convoluted, expensive, and confusing no matter where you are. Unfortunately, it hasn't only been our struggle since moving here. Other issues have been our lack of experience with and understanding of the social healthcare system, the high cost of living, slow internet, and highly disappointing daycare. Though we're sticking it out and doing our best to make the most of living in Florence--hello free museums on the first Sunday of the month--this is definitely a short-term option for us. Life in Italy is definitely NOT the leisurely life that media makes it out to be.

 

Link's I've Been Enjoying This Month

It's been a stressful year living in Italy, and this post from the blog Surviving In Italy struct at exactly the right time for me. The fears of la brutta figura (making a bad impression) have permeated into style, artistic expression, and creativity, at least throughout much of Florence, where to me, many aspects of everyday life seem stagnant without the exciting and the new. I'm missing the creativity I felt in the Baltics, the excitement of the new and rapid pace of change in China, and even the familiarity with equal dashes of laid back and colorful that comes with life in southeastern Connecticut.

J and I are working hard to reduce our waste, including old or worn clothing and items that Baby ISO has outgrown. This article from Trash is for Tossers came at just the right time, as my parents are moving out of my childhood home so I've got a lot of sorting, cleaning, and minimizing to do. I'm selling baby and toddler clothes on Vinted if you'd like to search for a deal (be sure to mention that you came by from In Search Of)!

Sometimes as an expat, I really put off making purchases of large items, as the less we have the easier it is to move. But we recently broke down and made a very much belated large purchase: the Stokke Trip Trap high chair*, which is hands down my favorite furniture item I've ever owned (we got it in moss green).

With our expat future so unknown at the moment, I've started investigating possible places to move to. I've come up with a handful of dream cities, and I've also started surprising myself with thoughts of moving back to the US in the near-ish future (although we really need to pass some gun laws before I'm convinced). Cue dreams of owning our own home and endless research into investing and saving.

 

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So, what's been up with you this month? Any fun trips planned for the summer? If you're an expat, how are you settling in?