It’s my two years anniversary of living in Italy! Trust me, I am not here to complain much, I’ve had the best times here regardless of the stories I will be sharing with you in a moment. Moving to a new country is never easy, and you definitely know this if you have temporarily or permanently moved for study, a job, or any other reason. It may take you weeks to figure out a lot of things.
In these weeks, you may take the wrong routes and hop on the wrong buses. It is at moments you want to order a sumptuous cone of gelato you realize you don’t even know a cent of the local language. So you stick to the touristic places with an English menu and signages.
Well now that I know better from living in Italy, most of those tourist places are simply exorbitant and unoriginal. The traditional places, where you can truly experience Italy’s food and culture rarely do speak English, and they are pocket-friendly too.
You’ve probably read my first-day experience in Milan, so my story will start from about a week after my arrival in Milan, then I would just run through the rest.
His pick up line…
One beautiful evening, I decided to take a stroll to Centrale to see the renowned railway station to commence my living in Italy experience. It was so busy, and I watched as people gushed out from the frontal part of the station with pieces of luggage and briefcases while struggling to turn down the pitches of hawkers to buy roses, lighter, cigarettes (I don’t even smoke) and some obscene items I would never need in 100 years. For a moment it felt like I was in Ikeja, Lagos. If you’ve been to my country, Nigeria then you had known what I’m talking about.
In the midst of the chaos and trying to take in the magnificent structure of the station, a man still found his way to me to ask one of the lamest questions: “Will you like to go to McDonald’s?” he yelled, trying to overshadow the background noise.
Wow, so much for a pickup line! Do I look so touristy that he was able to correctly assume I do not understand Italian? Is McDonald’s the in thing over here? I thought to myself, as I hurried away from him.
Grumpy old man…
I know old people can be grumpy, but we may begin to bag some accolades for the grumpy oldies in Milan. I’ve met some extra sweet oldies but the grumpy ones do also come with some extra. The other day, I was on the bus with a friend that had about seven people on it.
This oldie came on the bus, walked past a lot of empty seats on his way to me to make some mumbles and gestures to seat at the empty seat beside the window, I stood up to make way and he instead sat exactly where I was seating.
I stood for few seconds trying to comprehend what had just happened, waiting for some reason he had chosen to take my seat. As if he heard my thoughts, he started to lament about how he pays so much on tickets.
At that point, all eyes on the bus were on us, I just stood there partly dumbfounded and a little amused. My friend replied to him in an angry tone, saying we pay for tickets too and have as much right as he does on the bus!
I have a thing for chocolate skin…
You see, many Italian men have a thing for chocolate skin. I’ve had men tell me, “I have a thing for chocolate skin” – with a winky face, even when I was clearly not interested or ever interacted with them. I choke with laughter as I type this right now because I have female friends who would get so angry with men who are pervy and annoying.
Maybe I grew a thick skin because I grew up with siblings that were so expressive and assertive (Don’t get it wrong, my siblings and I have the best relationships. We just grew up that way and I’m glad we did), so words rarely get to me except I have reasons to be concerned he might be a serial killer or psychopath.
I eat as I please…
No, you don’t! Not under the watch of your law-abiding Italian friends who would frown upon your request for a cappuccino in the afternoon. How dare you? How dare you put a pineapple on their precious pizza?!
Gosh, I just love the passion Italians put into explaining why you must not combine certain edibles. Imagine, I had to beg my ex for months to agree to add a tablespoon of tomato sauce to pasta with pesto while cooking!
I gave up on forex…
Worst decision I ever made was to use my home country debit card over here. Not only is the exchange rate crazy, the bank charges always put a stab in my heart as I watched my account draw nearer to red. Initially, I would do some quick forex calculations in my head to compare prices on a supermarket shelve with my home country.
It’s definitely no news that Milan is one of the most expensive cities to live in, compared to other cities and even the capital – Rome. The best thing to do is to open your account here. It’s better to know you have 3000 Euros at an Italian bank rather than on a card that decides if it’s going to be 2967.89 or 2678.67 tomorrow.
So, do you speak Italian…
Some job descriptions state they require a native English until you scroll to the bottom to see – “who is also Italian mother tongue“. How is that even possible? So do you speak Italian is that one question that makes me freeze in whatever direction I’m going in a swift U-turn. Oh well, I do speak Italian but I don’t want to carry on a serious conversation while in my head I’m trying to make sure I’m not pronouncing anything wrong. I mean, I still wrongly pronounce scoperta (discovery) as scopata (fucked)!
Are you really studying?…
Some acquaintances back at home were really shocked I was moving to Italy. You see, Italy is stigmatized as a land of prostitution for women back at my home country, and they never fail to emphasize this in our movies. How can you be traveling so much if you claim to be studying? I also got a handful of private messages asking how I could afford to travel.
I never really thought much of the stigmatization back at home until I moved to Palermo. I was always so embarrassed to see other African women in skimpy dresses in the cold of the night, flashing their bodies to oncoming vehicles, waiting to be picked up. It was at those moments I began to clearly understand all I have heard about African women prostituting in Italy.
It has mostly been a pleasant journey with iotas of eyeopening experiences. I now eat pasta more than ever before – in different shapes and types, so I guess I’m having the best Italian food experience so far. However, I will still never be able to comprehend why I should finish a whole pizza by myself.
Living in Italy has been a bumpy and sweet ride. Different places have their own distinct character than separates them from other Italian regions.
If you have any thoughts, do share them with me in the comment box!