POSTED ORIGINALLY IN AUGUST 2018
So I thought I’d write a little blog about my arrival in Rome. A bit of a diary but it could be useful for anyone considering a move abroad…
The whole experience is incredibly surreal. I got my job at St George’s quite late in the day so the transition has been fast paced. I handed my notice in with two days until the deadline so much of term 6 was ensuring things would tick by without me.
The first three weeks of the holiday were spent packing up a three-bedroom house. By gosh, this was harder than I remember from the first time round. You don’t realise how much stuff you generate over the years. My advice would be to tackle one room at a time! Sadly, you have to be ruthless and for me the two hardest things were giving up my cats (who have gone to a brilliant new home) and giving up 300+ books. You just can’t take it all with you! Have three bags at the ready – bin, charity/sell and ship. This worked a treat and I maxed my bus pass out in the last few weeks, taking items to the charity shop. I also maxed out Facebook. The selling groups on Facebook are fantastic and it all helps because you can’t forget the fact that you are going to have to build from scratch again once you arrive in your new country.
My school were so supportive and helped to ship some of my items across which meant that I could take the bulk of my teaching resources and some well-chosen books. I will be forever appreciative of this because not all schools are as generous.
Things to keep with you are items you need for topics you are teaching straight away and clothes! The first time I moved to Italy, I can remember my suitcase weighed a ton (like 32kg) and I brought with me the most ridiculous amount of toiletries. My older wiser self had learnt that you can buy almost everything abroad. Do seek advice, however, on specific items. For example, paracetamol is very expensive in Italy so I brought a lot of paracetamol with me!
Also important to remember is that in your last few weeks, you will be in demand as family and friends will want to catch up with you one last time before you set off so ensure you leave plenty of time for this and say goodbye to everyone properly.
And then it was time for the off! Lugging two suitcases, a rucksack and a bag was an adventure, but help was at hand every step of the way and my new school organised for someone to meet me at the airport which was a brilliant relief. I spent the first night in a hotel as it was a Sunday and I didn’t want to inconvenience my new landlord/lady on a Sunday. I didn’t realise how close to the Vatican my hotel was so took a stroll and popped inside.
I’m not a religious person really but the churches in Italy are so stunning. There is such a sense of tranquillity and peace and calm as soon as you walk in. Even more so when you walk into the Vatican. There was a service of some kind going on and listening to the choir was just a moment. So beautiful.
I went for what I thought would be my dinner and ended up at a fab place where I ordered a cocktail. I forgot that in Italy when you order a drink, they bring you snacks. Except this place brought snack after snack after snack after snack. I ate pizza, pasta, risotto, bread…I was so full, I didn’t need to order dinner and the cocktails were fab too.
On the Monday I moved into my apartment. My landlord and landlady are fantastic. My landlady had sorted everything and then spoke with the gas and electric company which I was incredibly grateful for as my Italian is limited. My apartment is fantastic – it is so light and so bright and airy with so much room. As long as the commute works fine, I can’t see myself moving from here. The area I live in is great – there is a market 5 minutes away where I can buy all my fresh fruit and veg and fish and meat and shops lining a street. The metro is 10 minutes walk away so will be braving that over the next couple of days. It is perfect!
The first few days are spent organising yourself. There will be things you will need to buy for your new place and this isn’t always as easy as it sounds when you aren’t fluent in the language. Yesterday, I popped into TIM (phone/internet company) and was unbelievably lucky to come across a young man who spoke brilliant English and helped translate stuff for me. It was the same at the market – you suddenly realise how inadequate your knowledge of the language is even when you are trying to do the most basic of things – e.g. buying a bunch of grapes. But, for me, it is frustrating not to be able to speak the language and think quickly on my feet. I want to go beyond the functional and become fluent, which will take some time and practice and so will ensure I commit to do this.
It has been so lovely though to come across familiar loves once more. These range from simple brioche con crema which you cannot get in England and are so tasty to the incredible thunder storms in the afternoon/evening. My love for Italy is still deep and it really feels like I have come home.
And now I have a week until school starts with our induction programme. It may surprise people, but I am not going to rush to do any sight-seeing. This is because, I am not on holiday here (as I have to keep reminding myself). I live here now, and I would much rather spend the next couple of days getting to know my neighbourhood and bedding in. I also have a job to do and am spending some time, just like everyone else, getting ready for the academic year ahead. My job is my number 1 priority and I have all the time in the world to see the incredible sights that Rome has to offer. Also, it is incredibly hot at the moment and I need to give my body some time to adjust to the heat so intend to go into the centre of Rome at the weekend when it is cooler.
Tomorrow my shipping arrives and I cannot wait to unpack my books and finish getting myself sorted. Next week, I’m hoping to visit Ikea – I definitely need some bookshelves….
At the moment, I have to keep pinching myself that I am here, that this is happening to me. It all feels like a dream. I am genuinely happy and excited at the start of my Italian adventure – second time round. I have to thank Paul Ryan and Marco Gemelli for taking a chance on me and allowing me to come home.
To those of you who are thinking about taking a similar leap, do it. Life is too short to press the pause button.