We're excited to announce a new series for our blog, Expat Life, which features interviews with current expats living in Italy. This series was born out of requests from readers to gain more diverse perspectives on living abroad. You can read previous installments by clicking here.
Today's interview is with Sara Rosso of the popular Ms. Adventures in Italy blog. Sara is a writer, photographer, technology lover, and business & digital strategist living in Milan, Italy.
Sara and her work have appeared in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired Italy, Sky News 24LA Times, Brandweek, RAINews24, Italian Glamour and Vanity Fair. She writes about food, recipes and travel at Ms. Adventures in Italy, and she founded a popular all-Italy news, culture and travel podcast called Eye on Italy. She writes about technology and building a business at When I Have Time.
When did you first step foot in Italy?
I first visited in 1994 when I was on a student trip - we visited the famous three - Rome, Venice, and Florence, and I remember wanting to come back. I visited two other countries on that trip and stayed with host families, and I think it would have been great to do the same in Italy.
Why did you come to Italy?
After that first trip, I became pretty obsessed about spending more time here. I loved the people I met, and the language, too - I'm also half Italian-American so I wanted to learn more about my family and their culture. I chose my undergraduate university partly because they had an Italian study abroad program. Then in 1999 I studied abroad in a tiny town in Tuscany, and I became convinced I wanted to come back here to live. I was afraid to move after graduation and risk not using my degree at all so I stuck it out for a few more years. In 2002 I visited again for a few weeks, and finally in summer 2003 I was ready to make the leap.
Did you know right away that you wanted to stay here?
I knew I wanted to come back after 1994, but during my semester abroad was when I really decided. I spent a lot of time with Italians and learning the language (though my classes were in English), and I saw a lot of the country which further convinced me how beautiful it was.
What was the reaction of friends and family back home when you said "so, I'm moving to Italy"?
I don't think it was a big surprise when I finally decided to do it - I had been talking about it for a while. I also left California to go to university in Texas where I didn't know a single person so they are used to me taking leaps. My going into it was - if I don't like it, I'll come home. Pretty simple, right? I think a few might be a bit jealous because they imagine life in Italy is like what they see in movies - and most won't believe you when you tell them it isn't.
What have been some of the funniest/craziest/hardest things about adapting to a completely new culture?
Michelle from Bleeding Espresso mentioned the language and I second that. I think the finer point on this is waiting for the "Italian you" to catch up to the English you - You're more funny/smarter/intelligent in your native language, and it takes time to get comfortable in the new one, and until then, you feel a bit unlike yourself.
What do you do for a living that allows you such an international lifestyle?
I work in technology, which luckily is in demand everywhere, and in Italy, too. Recently I started working for a distributed company which means I can work from anywhere in the world since we don't have offices. I love it.
What's the single best thing about your life in Italy. What do you wake up every day thankful for?
Coffee. Ha. Actually yes - I never drank coffee living in America, and now I'm quite partial to my espresso shot in the morning. I would have to say I'm exceedingly thankful for (government) healthcare in Italy - I feel like my well-being will never be tied to my employment (as it was in the US) and this gives me a peace of mind that means I can change jobs and experiment more than I might be comfortable doing.
If people could read only three posts from your blog, which three would you tell them to read? My site isn't just about Italy - it's about travel and recipes, too. But for Italy lovers, I would suggest these three: two guides on understanding big food cultures in Italy (coffee and aperitivo) and one about understanding and making your way in life via networking:
- How to Order an Italian Coffee in Italy
- The Guide to Italian Aperitivo and Drinks in Italy
- How to Network for Life (And Why You Should)
Where to find Sara:
Sara Rosso - www.sararosso.com Twitter - www.twitter.com/rosso Ms. Adventures in Italy - Food, Recipes & Travel www.msadventuresinitaly.com When I Have Time - Tech Talk & Growing a Business www.whenihavetime.com Eye on Italy - The All-Italy Podcast - www.eyeonitaly.com/podcast World Nutella Day (5 years going strong!) - www.nutelladay.com
A great little video by Sara: