The final two-week countdown! (Until I leave Italy!)

Exactly two weeks today I will be leaving Milano on the night train bound for Vienna.

I can't believe I just said that. This is really happening!

I mean I knew it was always going to come to this, that at some point I would have to pack up all my things, (things that might not fit in one suitcase anymore) and leave the country I have called home for 7 months...

But it just feels weird. I've gotten so used to living here, that anywhere else seems strange. I hardly believe I ever lived in England either! When I think back to that one way, slightly terrifying plane journey in June, it's a hazy memory, like one of those dreams you could have sworn were real.

It might have something to do with only spending a total of 20 days out of 200 hundred odd in the UK and the first of these were only in November, five looong months after I arrived in Italy and even then it was only for the weekend.

I feel some sense of achievement that I've managed to stick it out so long in a foreign country without going home and without going completely crazy (which is very easy to do in a place like Italy).
Of course, I had various visitors over the months which has been lovely, like me and mum's trip to Turin and our adventures in Milan and when my sister came to stay and of course, Venice and Lake Garda with my boyfriend.

But it's just not the same as returning home to everything that's familiar and all the things you are used to. Like actual friendly customer service and people having some sense of spacial awareness/personal space. (I was waiting outside a shop the other day and the amount of people that walked past practically on top of me was unreal! Err hello I am standing here.)

It wasn't until I actually came home for Christmas that I suddenly realized how much I had been missing all these things, so much so that I didn't really want to go back to Italy (plus I was staying with my boyfriend in London which is waaay more exciting than the little Italian town I live in).

family christmas selfie (with my sister's new selfie stick)
London skyline from Primrose Hill
This attachment to England that I suddenly developed in the space of two weeks, kinda made me glad that I didn't go back earlier in the year, otherwise I might never have wanted to come back! Going cold turkey is the way it's got to be!

But then again, I don't think you should beat yourself up if you need a break from the year abroad. Just like I didn't realize how much I had missed England, I also didn't realize how stressed out Italy was making me and how much I just needed a break!

Almost every little thing was irritating me, which can be clearly seen from my many "omg I hate Italy so much" esqe status's. Something which my dad, who is actually Italian got slightly offended at...I think.

"Ma Julie, perché dici queste cose di Italia??!"

Err sorry dad?

But aside from me just being a moany old woman, getting annoyed at everything can be a sign of culture shock, something which I only thought about after Lucy mentioned it to me. Makes total sense really now, but at the time I had no idea, I mean I'd been here such a long time already!

I'm not really sure what the cure for it is, but luckily it was then time for Christmas holidays which seemed to do the trick. Two weeks at home relaxing with the fam and boyfriend works wonders!
not so composed family Christmas pic
missed this one!
Although, it may also be because I knew I only had a limited time left when I got back (a month to be exact) so I'm making a conscious effort to make the most of everything before I leave, hence the little things that were bothering me so much before Christmas don't seem that important anymore.

Train is late for the hundredth time? Who cares, soon I'll be in Vienna, enjoying the luxury of efficient transport!

Naturally I have a bucket list which includes il Cenacolo (The Last Supper by Da Vinci) and Bologna and Florence, both of which I'm getting ticked off in a double whammy this weekend.

This one month to go mentality was also my motivation for coming back, which my boyfriend kept reminding me of when I was crying on my final night in England.

Oh god, it makes it sound like I really hate Italy...

I don't, of course! But living here isn't like when I go to visit my Nonna in Rome. For a start I don't have her amazing cooking (although if I ate like that all the time I'm pretty sure I'd be the size of a house when I left). And Milan is a pretty rainy, grey city - this summer being the worst weather ever. It pretty much rained the whole time, whilst you in the UK had one of the hottest summers. Yeah...funny how that worked out.

Really, I think what I'm trying to say is life in Italy isn't quite how my holidays there had lead me to believe. But then I guess a holiday is very different to full time living.

It's not the language side that's been the problem. Ok, so at the beginning, the thought of going into a shop alone and having to speak in Italian would make my palms sweat (which seems super ridiculous now). But now I can communicate and understand fairly well, minus the times when there's too many Italians talking at once and I just have to follow the best I can.

It's other stuff that I've found hard, like feeling lonely to the general what some might say backwardsness  Italian way of doing things. I mean, why is the tabacceria the only place you can buy a bus ticket when half of them don't sell them anyway and they're all shut on sundays?! (Don't even think about trying to get a ticket on the bus, it will be the worst decision ever!).

Then there's the unreliability of stuff, like transport, including strikes which seem to happen at least once a month and always when I need to go somewhere. i.e the airport and the lowest point when I genuinely thought I was going to miss my train to Zurich because the guaranteed-even-in-case-of-strike bus to the train station was nowhere to be seen. Reminder to self: avoid travelling on Fridays and always always always check the websites.

I could go on but I won't because it will get boring and just be me moaning at you (I'll save that for the people who really understand what it's like to live here).

But I like to think I can use all the things that have gone wrong to my advantage. You know, the sort of thing they ask in an interview where they go...

"So, tell me about a time when you were faced with a problem and how you overcame it" - ha I've got a bucket load and they're all original.

But of course, not the entire time was spent stressing out, I did focus a lot of my energy on all the wonderful things that Italy has to offer like...



And just the food in general.
lunch at the reffetorio
that is one mighty panino!

Cheap but good alcohol
help-yourself wine from tap
Speaking of alcohol...the aperitivo

Now that's what I call aperitivo!
Beautiful architecture and churches (you know you're getting old when you purposely go in to admire a church).

La GalleriaVittorio Emanuele in Milan

The duomo in Turin

...and of course all the beautiful places.
Lake Garda
I've also been able to do a bit of travelling outside Italy, using cheap deals on trains to visit a friend in Strasbourg and meeting my boyfriend in Zurich. And I have discovered something, that I think I always knew deep down, I love to travel! And will certainly be making the most of it in the coming months (already got plans to visit Budapest and Bratislava when I'm in Vienna).

And last but certainly not least I have met some very lovely and wonderful people who I will miss a lot but will hopefully see again at some whichever country we happen to meet.

So, when people ask me will you miss Italy or are you sad to leave, I always have to give them the yes...but answer.

Yes I'll miss the food, the friends I've made and speaking Italian, but I'm also super excited for Vienna, for a completely different few months, a new culture to experience and maybe most of all, to live in a big city! (Sorry Biassono but you're pretty rubbish as far as living goes).

And what about the other question?

Would I ever live in Italy?

Well, we will see...

(p.s my heart still belongs to you Rome)


  1. I love that you point out the flaws of actually living in Italy; I think my friends have this romanticised/holiday version in their heads and it's hard to explain that the reality is different!
    And I'd forgotten about the whole interview answering thing! I can definitely say I've overcome some issues haha.
    Have a fun 2 weeks!

  2. Haha I know right! I mean it's not all bad but a lot of things are really hard, something you only understand if you actually live here. Luckily my mum used to live in Italy, so she knows exactly what I'm on about!
    Thanks :) Have a good time in perugia, how long are you there for?


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