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M. Elizabeth Evans, Florence

Who are you?

I read this initially as “how are you?” and was writing some “witty” response, “somewhere between a glass of wine and an institution.” Then I realized I’d read the question wrong.

I’m M.E., a writer, blogger, obsessive goat and capybara video watcher.Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Florence, Italy in 2009. I was having a 1/4 life crisis, decided to go to grad school in Italy, and went.

What challenges did you face during the move?

The most difficult thing about living abroad for me was the language. I’m shy, in a way, and it took me so long to feel confident enough to speak. I sounded like a drunk toddler for a very long time.

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Are there many other expats in your area?

So, so many. But, I didn’t know many of them until I started blogging.

What do you like about life where you are?

Italy is a beautiful country. Aesthetically, I don’t know if I’ve been anywhere more beautiful.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

So many things. Being far from family is really difficult, and my friends from home. The culture is the opposite and while I appreciate it, there are a lot of things I struggle with. Like, Italian ways of communicating are very different. Americans are really direct, sometimes too much. Italians communicate in a really different way and it’s a struggle to understand each other.

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

The way Italians are with children. On one hand, family and kids are so important in Italy and that’s awesome. On the other hand, it’s not uncommon for an Italian mom to treat her 15 year old the same way we treat a 9 year old. Or a 35 year old how we treat a 20 year old. Very different. Oh, and the in-laws tend to be really involved. That’s a lot of cultures, but it can be rough. And just plain crazy at times.

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

Get Rosetta Stone and do it daily for 6 months first. Watch Italian movies and read a ton of books on the culture!

What are your plans for the future?

I’m writing a book that will hopefully be published in the near future.

You can keep up to date with M. Elizabeth Evans' adventures on her blog, Surviving In Italy.