As a nineteen year old, there aren't many things in life I could honestly say I'm 'proud' of. I've never really been a bad student but I've never been outstanding either, I've never saved a life or won an award. But, as a girl who didn't know how to use a washing machine or iron a shirt, as somebody who only knew the word 'Ciao' in January and for a person who has such bad money managing skills her mum had to hide her tips to save up. I can finally say I am proud of something. And that, is plucking up the courage as an eighteen year old small town girl, to up and move to a brand new country, with zero friends, zero knowledge of the language, and almost-zero life skills. Well done me. But this Italian adventure is very nearly at a close, and so I've decided, to give you my top life tips on how to live abroad.
1) Learn 'yes' and 'no' in the country's language. You can pretty much get through any awkward conversation just by nodding or shaking depending on the tone of the other person. (The only time this failed massively for me was in my second week when I wanted to buy a little slice of I'm-moved-in-and-unpacked-cake and ended up buying the whole cake. I ended up taking it to my host family and awkwardly explaining why I had a whole chocolate tart in my bag).
2) If somebody finds out you speak English, 99% of the time people will try to practice their English on you. Don't let them.
3) Spend at least 5 seconds longer when crossing the road, the little 'Stop Look Go' hedgehogs can't help us Brit's when we're not on our own turf.
4) Realise and understand, public transport is crap in every country. The sooner you stop giving it the benefit of the doubt, the better.
5) When it's the World Cup, don't speak in any language other than the country you're in. Or just avoid talking at all.
6) There are some weird customs and weird traditions around, but any time you start to judge them, remember English people gather together, build a life size man and throw him onto a bonfire once a year.
7) The Happy Birthday song is the same tune everywhere, don't you worry.
8) If you're living alone, there will come a time when the bathroom needs to be cleaned. Do it sooner rather than later. You'll hate your past self if you leave it too long.
9) The same goes for cleaning your apartment.
10) And doing the washing up.
11) If you're in Italy, you get free food when you buy drinks. Never question this. Never ever. Embrace it.
12) Figure out how people greet each other where you are to avoid any awkward scenario's, there have been one too many 'hand shake, no, kiss, no, hug, no, WHAT IS HAPPENING' moments.
13) Socialise. Get. Outside. Meet. People.
14) Don't be afraid of getting something wrong or sounding stupid, how were you supposed to know the pronunciation of blahblah word. Get over it, people really just don't care, at least you're trying.
15) Learn the emergency phone numbers. Something I never bothered to do here. But have now realised how stupid that was.
16) There will be food and drink which doesn't exist in the supermarkets, Pimms? Nope. Doritio's? Nope. Marmite? Definitely not. But then you'll discover delights such as Twonky bars and Nutella/Ice tea all-in-one's and all will be forgiven.
17) A lot of European countries 'free-pour', aka 3 cocktails in Oceana = 1 cocktail in a European Bar. BEWARE. You will end up on your bathroom floor. Probably more than once.
18) Home sickness is a thing, but then you realise you are abroad. And it's probably hot. Or you're ski-ing. (The only reason I can think of for not moving abroad to a hot country). And you're having way more fun than everyone back home.
19) Don't limit yourself to friends who can only speak your language, meeting local people your age genuinely helps you to learn the language. Even though your brain will start to hurt sometimes.
20) Whatever the problem, ice cream will fix it.
Ok so I admit, the final one isn't actually technically a life hack for living abroad. I followed this rule even in England, but nobody does ice cream like Italian's. I hope you've enjoyed this post. I'm sorry I didn't put one out over the weekend, I had food poisoning, and ended up spending my last weekend in Italy, in bed. Feeling very sorry for myself. This weekend I will try to get one out but I arrive home on Saturday, so may be a bit busy! If not, I will grace you all with my presence again next Wednesday as per! I hope your weekends were far better than mine!
Ciao for Now!