Dealing with being away from home, family and friends

One of the most prominent thoughts when I had made the decision to move here to Italy, was how difficult it was going to be to be away from my home, family and friends.  For those that know me well, you already know that family to me is #1.  I spoke to my sister, parents and friends on a daily basis without fail.  I visited my sister and my nephews at least once a week (more often than not it was more than once a week as my brother-in-law can attest to)  Family was and is at the forefront of my life.  Always has been, always will be.

For those of you reading this considering travelling abroad being away from home, I hope this blog serves to show you the many different emotions you may experience.

I was very sad knowing I was going to leave home…packing my bags the night before departing was a really emotional time.  I thought of all the family gatherings and celebrations I would miss in the upcoming year.  Easter, birthdays, summer BBQs.  Being away from my 2 nephews was going to be the hardest and I had an unwarranted fear they would forget who I was.  I got all my crying out at home before going to the airport (including a cry session with my best friend Anto in my parent’s bathroom)  I had asked my sister to spread the word that I’d prefer no one cry at the airport or I may have second thoughts about getting on the plane 🙂

I wanted to make the transition to Italy as smooth as possible.  Luckily I had my father travelling with me for the first 3 weeks of this adventure.  I was calm and super excited once I got on the plane.  Arriving in the south of Italy, where my father’s family is, was a fantastic feeling.  I hugged each of my cousins for at least 5 minutes each.  They had each grown-up so much.  I don’t have first cousins in Canada, so it was nice spending time with this side of the family, over 5000 km away.

Since the internet isn’t the greatest in certain parts of Italy, I wanted to make sure that I could still somehow stay in contact with family and friends back home.  I got a local phone with data so that I can take full advantage of WhatsApp and BBM.  Getting a local cell phone is crucial.  I’m with TIM and got a deal for 20 Euros a month that includes 1000 local text messages, 500 minutes of talk and 3G of data.  There may be better plans out there, but I opted with this one.

Once my father had left and I was on my own in Florence, I’ll be honest.  I didn’t really feel the ‘sting’ of missing family and friends right away.  They call this the honeymoon stage when travelling abroad.  My time was filled with working, exploring and discovering.  The days would zip by and at the end I’d be so exhausted that there was no time to dwell on the distance.

Skype became my new favourite app.  Due to the 6 hour time difference, the best and most convenient time to touch base with family has been after 10pm Italy time.  I Skype my sister, my parents and when I can, friends.  Honestly, Skype is the way to go.  I agree that technology is a sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse, but in this case, I’m happy I have such a great outlet to reach family and friends.  My Zia here has told me stories about how 15-20 years ago, they would all have to pile into a car, head to the downtown area of Cosenza and wait in line for an operator to place a call to Canada in order to speak with my father.  The lines were awful, you could barely understand the other person and you were lucky if the line didn’t drop after a 5 minute conversation.  I’ll take the technology, thank you.

May 4th will mark my 4th month here and to be honest, it’s been lately that I’ve been feeling the most nostalgic about home.  It’s by no means a crippling depression or sadness…it’s more like I’ll see something and immediately think that my sister would love to see that, or my parents…or my nephews would LOVE eating this gelato.

Seeing my family and friends on Skype is great, don’t get me wrong, but I do miss physically being with my family.  One of my nephew’s birthday just passed and even though I was on Skype to watch the party, I just wanted to reach through the screen and hug and kiss everyone.  All pretty normal emotions I think.

Here’s how to get through those weepy days:

Keep busy!  Walk around, take photos, people-watch, whatever you like.  Just don’t fall into the trap of staying home.  We had a few days of shitty weather here, and I was stuck inside for 2 days.  I felt like I was going crazy.  Unfortunately, when it rains here and the winds pick up, there is literally nothing else to do but hide inside.  The streets are deserted and most people just seek sanctuary in their hotels or in restaurants/bars.  On those days, I focus on my work and other things I love doing.  I create lesson plans, catch up on TV shows, call my cousins, listen to music, clean the studio, watch entertaining Italian game-shows…you get the idea.

Take a deep breath and know that you’re going to be OK.  It is hard to be away from home, family and friends, but just think of all the stories and tales you get to tell your family when you get back.

I love it here in Florence and I can see making a life for myself here, but I’m taking each day as it comes.  No pressure, no stress.  I don’t need to think about what ifs and maybes right now.  I have an incredibly supportive family, wonderful friends and I’m living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  I really have no reason to complain about anything.

Time is flying by.  I can’t believe it’s almost May!!  My sister and parents have plans to visit soon.  I am really looking forward to that.  I’m afraid if I blink the time will zip by…so I’m keeping my eyes open and embracing all the emotions that I knew would come with this adventure.

One thing is for certain, I’ve never been this happy.  The air really agrees with me.  Who knows where this is going to take me.  Mai dire mai right?

….miss you guys.


Until the next blog, baci xx


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