±Compare Expat Providers

Expat Health Insurance Quotes

Foreign Currency Exchange Quotes

International Moving Quotes

We're very social! Follow Expat Focus on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+

Expat Focus Facebook PageExpat Focus on TwitterExpat Focus Pinterest PageExpat Focus Google+ Page

Notify me when new content is added about a country

±Expat Focus Partners

Expat Experiences

Italy > Expat Experiences


Jasmine Mah, Bergamo

Wednesday June 29, 2016 (13:49:25)
Jasmine Mah
Jasmine Mah

Who are you?

My name is Jasmine, I'm a 27 year old born-and-bred Western Canadian from Edmonton, Alberta. I attended pharmacy school at the University of Alberta and practiced in the community for a little less than two years before packing my bags for Bergamo, Italy.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Bergamo in December 2014 in hot pursuit of a hot Italian (currently my fiancé). He had already lived in Canada with me as I finished my degree and we decided it was time to give Italy a go!

What challenges did you face during the move?

Fortunately I can say that the initial language issue was not a main challenge for me because I was able to study Italian at a university-level at the same time as pharmacy and had excellent professors. That is not to say I speak perfectly but the usual struggle with learning a new language was somewhat minimized to the background. My greatest struggle has been with the bureaucracy...

It is really, truly insane how much red tape and bureaucracy exists in this country. I just remember the first time I went to get a codice fiscale ended up becoming three days instead of one because each time I showed up, they would request a different document or photocopies (and of course photocopies have to be done elsewhere because it would be completely illogical for the Agenzia delle Entrata to have one when almost every application requires photocopies…!).

Are there many other expats in your area?

There are expats yes, but definitely not as many as you might find in bigger, more popular cities like Florence, Rome, or Milan. I'd say the Bergamo expat community is on the smaller side, so much so that we more or less know everyone. It's the kind of community where you can actually hear down the grapevine whether a "new American" has just arrived, for example.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love turning the corner and stumbling upon history. This is not something that happens when you live in North America due to the youth of the cities. In Italy (and Europe in general), you can be driving past a centuries-old church or castle on your morning commute. You are literally immersed in beauty and history all day long and that must be good for the soul.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

Missing out on milestones and events in the lives of my friends and family back home. You just keep missing things like weddings, births, Father's Day, Mother's Day... all the small moments that are so important to experience with people who are close to you. I've had to decline so many wedding invites that I would have loved to attend but this is just not logistically or financially possible as an expat.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

I feel like some Italians are still very much traditionalists and not entirely open to change (not necessarily a bad thing, just a notable difference). It's difficult to wrap your head around coming from such a multi-cultural country like Canada, to accept that some places in the world are still quite behind when it comes to appreciation of different cultures. Chinese food, for example, still has a certain stigma against it and people have limited knowledge in regards to international cuisine or ways of life.

I just feel I could ask anyone my age in Canada if they wanted to go for "pho" and they'd know what dish you're talking about as well as they'd probably even have a favorite pho spot. This is a scenario that would never play out here, at least not yet. I must emphasize that I only know Bergamo as an expat, and this could very much not even be an issue in the bigger Italian cities where there are more international students and workers residing.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

If you’re Canadian and want to move to Italy, my biggest piece of advice is learn the language before moving, or at the very least, the grammatical basics. To say it will make your life and experience exponentially easier is an understatement.

What are your plans for the future?

Getting married! We are in the midst of planning our September wedding and that's the only thing in the future that I can think about at the very moment. Italian wedding planning is like North American wedding planning on steroids!

You can keep up to date with Jasmine's adventures on her blog, Questa Dolce Vita.

Link  QR 

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Aetna International

Our award-winning expatriate business provides health benefits to more than 650,000 members worldwide. In addition, we have helped develop world-class health systems for governments, corporations and providers around the world. We want to be the global leader in delivering world-class health solutions, making quality health care more accessible and empowering people to live healthier lives.

AXA - Global Healthcare

As the global healthcare specialists for AXA, the world’s number one insurance brand, we can help you get fast access to expert medical care, whenever and wherever you need it. All our plans include evacuation and repatriation, a second medical opinion service and extra support from a dedicated case manager if you’re diagnosed with cancer. You’ll also have 24/7 support from our caring multilingual team - we’ll always remember you’re a person, not a case number.

Bupa Global

Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. We offer direct access to over 1.2m medical providers worldwide, and we settle directly with them so you don’t have to pay up front for your treatment. We provide access to leading specialists without the need to see your family doctor first and ensure that you have the same level of cover wherever you might be, home or away.

Cigna International

Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.