Living over seas is hard
Being a military family means at some point we were going to live over seas. We got back from a 3 year tour over in Italy about 6 months ago. I wasn't sure what living overseas was like and this was only my second time out of the US so I really had no idea what to expect.
We moved there in February of 2009. My son was only 1 1/2 years old when we left. My daughters were 4 and 3. Wow, doesn't seem like they were so little looking back on it now! Because they were so little moving on them was hard. Changing everything they knew and then throwing in the laungage barrier on top of that. But we all managed.
Moving there for me was the worst (well, other then moving back that is). It was my first time that far away from my family and not being able to see them all the time. Our take off from California was horrible. Our flight was canceled so they put the 5 of us on another plane. This was ok except for the fact that not a single one of us were sitting next to each other. We were spread out from the front to the back of the plane. Our poor kids cried the whole way up after take off because the flight attendents wouldn't let us change seats until we had reached cruising altutide. Talk about a horrible flight! But from there it only got worse. Our luggage that was supposed to arrive with us in Venice, Italy went to Paris, France instead. While the kids had two extra change of clothes in their bags, my husband and I only had the clothes we were wearing. Granted it was nice not having to carry the 9 BAGS we brought with us to the hotel but how were we to live without our stuff? After a horrible two nights in a crappy Italian hotel they finally moved us to the hotel on post. We still didn't have our luggage when this moved happened. It had rained every day since we had gotten there, which was not helping my mood any. Once our luggage finally arrived (all at once thank God) things started turning around. We got a house and everything set up for when our house hold goods arrived and the sun even started to shine a little.
We had boughten Italian cell phones so we could at least call each other. We didn't have a vehicle as ours was going to take up to 90 days to get there. At least moving over seas they have what they call "loaner" furniture to help out until your stuff gets there. We were able to have beds in the house, chairs and table, couches, and a washer and dryer! Made moving seem a bit less stressful.
Our House Hold Goods took about two months to arrive and I was able to get everything in the house and set up while the hubby was gone for training. The van also came in about this same time so I got to do that without him too. (You will notice that a lot of what I did was while he was gone, another thing that made living over seas so difficult for me)
Once life settled down and we got into the swing of everything it was just the every day stuff that made it challenging.
The hours of most places in Italy were like this: Open at 8 or 9am close for lunch from 11 or 12 until 2 or 3 (a 3 hour lunch break) then they would open back up until 5 or 6 at night. Most places were closed on Sundays and Mondays until noon or 1pm. This made shopping on the Economy difficult but you get used to it eventually.
Getting gas for our van was interesting enough. We got "gas coupons" from the PX on post and only certain gas stations would allow you to use them. Mostly Agips but some of the other ones would too. This made traveling hard because if you didn't know where the next Agip was you would have to pay Euro out of pocket and it cost 1.735 Euro per LITER! That means about $8.67 per GALLON of gas! Talk about a HUGE hit out of the bank account.
With having our Hyundai Entourage over seas it made driving quite interesting. Most Italian streets are small and trying to fit our van and another car on the same road often proved to be complicated. Many times we would have to pull in our side mirrors just to get through parked cars or side roads in town.
Lets see what else, oh, if you are out about town and need to use the bathroom, make sure you have Euro in you pocket. Preferably change. It always cost to use the bathroom. Even if you go into a restaurant or something you have to purchase something before they will let you use the bathroom. And some of the places, the first one we went to, all it had was a ceramic hole in the floor. I took one look at it and decided I could hold it until we went home! LOL
The language barrier is the most difficult. I suggest you learn a little bit of the language before you head to live overseas. I did learn that if you at least try to speak their language, even if you sound like a fool, it makes communicating with them a bit easier.
Another thing that was very wierd for me is you do NOT stop for buses in Italy. Not even school buses. If you do people get very upset with you.
Also driving down the Autostrada (Italian Interstate) and seeing kids standing in the back seat or turned around waving at me was a huge surprise.
Food is also a huge difference living in another country. Most places still have the McDonalds and such but they too have their differances. In Italy you can get Shrimp at McDonalds and every kids meal has a type of dessert with it. Italian food is a lot healthier then American food, in my opinion. Not a lot of greese, more fresh fruits and veggies, not much processed foods. I miss Italian food. One of the things I did notice was the baby food was crazy. They had cavalo. . . . . that is Horse. . . . for baby food! Also had salmon, sheep, and lots of other things I found wierd. Good thing my kids were way out of that stage because I don't think I could ever feed my kids or even eat horse myself.
Living over seas can be the best experiance or worst experance of your life. We made the most of our experiance and I miss it every day. Was it hard? Yes, but once you get a routine down and learn the rules and such of the new country you are in, it becomes easier. Every day you learn something didn't know before. I think everyone should try living on a different continent. Somewhere they have to start over and learn how to live again. It made me aware of all the different things that are out there and how to make it through. I would do it all again in a heart beat (even if it was somewhere new again).
Do you think it would be hard to live over seas? To start all over in a place you know little about?