The question I am asked ALL THE TIME, is why on earth did I move from London to Italy?! Bless the Italians – the bemused look on their faces, when I say I fell in love with their country – does makes me smile. The truth is that many Italians – particularly where I am in the South – leave Italy for other countries like the U.K. They believe they will have better prospects elsewhere. It’s no wonder they think I’m crazy for doing the complete opposite!
Time for change
I didn’t leave London because I hated it. I just didn’t have the burning desire to stay. London is a beautiful city, don’t get me wrong. It’s a cultural delight – there’s so much to see and do and so many wonderful opportunities to be had. Compared to other countries in the world, there’s a good quality of life. But London and the U.K as a whole, has its fair share of problems. There’s unemployment, poverty and crime. The cost of living is higher and well, the streets aren’t paved with gold.
To me in the U.K you live to work – that was always my experience. Long hours, 7 days a week working, not being able to switch off. I wanted to discover what it was like to be able to work to live. To discover that sweet spot of having a job but also of having a life and truly living it.
Why become an Expat?
My Expat journey is a little unique in that it wasn’t pre-planned for months. I didn’t have friends or family in Italy, I didn’t even speak the language! In fact, I had only visited Italy twice, before my mind was set. I understand just how crazy that sounds but all I can say is that I had an inner knowing that this was the country I wanted to live in. I felt a connection. Within eight months of committing my dreams to paper in my journal, I was living it as my reality. That’s how quickly things can happen, when you get clear on your intentions.
So what’s so special about being an Expat? What have I learnt? Here’s 3 reasons why I became an Expat and why I think you should too.
1. It opens your mind
Travelling opens your eyes to the world but living in another country opens your mind.
There’s nothing quite like navigating your way around a strange new city, where everyone speaks so quickly, in a beautifully poetic language you just do not understand. Where the people are so passionate, that it takes you ten minutes to understand if they are arguing with you or agreeing.
Far beyond any holiday experiences, living abroad tests you in so many ways. What are normal day-to-day activities, push you so far out of your comfort zone and feel so uncomfortable that you can’t help but grow. The growth you experience though leads to transformation which is so incredibly satisfying.
I’ve had my fair share of life experiences – from being a Police Officer to being an Entrepreneur but becoming an Expat hands down, is what has taught me the most about life and myself.
2. It’s a reset on your life
We go through life in our own unique ways, with our own individual blend of successes and mistakes. Life can become stale though. The same routines, the same faces. A change is as good as a rest, as they say and there’s no bigger change I know off, than to pack up your life and hot foot it across the globe. It’s a major life reset and sometimes that’s just what we need.
Within eight months of committing my dreams to paper in my journal, I was living it as my reality. That’s how quickly things can happen, when you get clear on your intentions.
Starting from scratch forming new relationships and connections is daunting in your own country – try doing it in a brand new country where nobody can say your name correctly! It’s a challenge but equally it’s refreshing. It’s a chance to create something new, to carve a different direction for your life and to truly understand who you are and what you want. Then, it’s a chance to start creating it.
3. It’s a cultural education
I can honestly say for the first time in my life I have a greater appreciation for the food I eat (I actually cook now!). Living in Italy has taught me that. Italians are extremely passionate about their food – there’s even a food shop here called Eataly – that’s how serious they are!
I have learnt through living here the power of kindness, generosity and love. The people I meet on a daily basis are so friendly and warm-hearted – that I actually wonder how I ever lasted so long in London, where if you try to strike up a conversation with a stranger, you’re thought of as a creep.
I moved here with such a cynical mind that when someone offered me some of what they were eating on a train journey home from Naples one day, I politely refused silently thinking they were trying to poison me. I would later discover through many more train journeys (all pre-COVID I feel I should add) that this was a perfectly natural and normal gesture for the Italians. Boy, have I learnt a lot.
I’m totally one for education and my late Grandfather would always tell me to get all the qualifications I could, under my belt. I am also though a big believer in life experience and how actually that can be your greatest teacher. It’s important to educate yourself but education doesn’t come solely through qualifications. Living in another country, stepping out of your comfort zone and understanding through first hand experience just how the world really works – is an extremely powerful lesson all by itself.
Life is for living and if you have a burning desire to become an Expat then I say go for it. It’s changed my life immeasurably and I hope it does the same for you.