An American Girl In Italy

Carlie: Welcome to another episode of the Expat Focus podcast.

I’m your host Carlie, an Aussie living in France, and today’s guest is an accidental social media influencer. American, Kacie Rose Burns has amassed a community of over one million people across TikTok and Instagram. And it all started with a little video she posted on her way to her new life in Italy. When I told a friend I was going to interview Kacie, she said “I just want to meet her in Italy and eat gelato together.”

And that’s exactly the vibe you get watching Kacie’s social media videos. We chat about what led her to leave her career in New York and move to Florence, Italian culture and food, including what you should never do to pasta, and some of the opportunities that have come her way thanks to her social media fame.

Kacie, thanks so much for joining me on the Expat Focus podcast.

Kacie: Thanks for having me.

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Carlie: Now, having followed you on Instagram for the better part of the last year, I feel like I could have a pretty good crack at explaining your most recent biography, but I’m not going to do that for the benefit of our listeners. It’s a little bit creepy, perhaps. Can you tell me-

Kacie: No, it’s not. I’m honoured.

Carlie: How about you tell me, how did you end up as an American in Italy?

Kacie: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Okay. So, I went on a solo trip to Italy in 2018, for no other reason than I just felt a pull to go to Italy and was sick of waiting for somebody to go with, so I decided to go alone. And I did Venice, Florence and Rome, and I also did Paris at the end. And I had a great trip. On my first day in Florence, I met my now boyfriend, Dario, which, you know, the classic movie stuff and all. You know.

Carlie: Total meet-cute.

Kacie: Yeah, whatever. No.

So I met him on my first day in Florence and we spent my three days together in Florence. And then ended up talking like every single day after that, it was crazy.  And we did long distance for a year, traveling and visiting each other. Then he came to New York for a year in December 2019. He stayed for a year. We stayed in New York together. And then in January 2021, we moved back to Italy together. And now I’m here, a year and a half later.

Carlie: What a whirlwind. And probably not exactly what you thought would happen when you took yourself off to Italy.

Kacie: Oh gosh, no. I was just expecting like plates of pasta and pizza, which I would not have been mad about if that was all that was. But now it was like this beautiful extra thing that happened on the trip. Yeah.

Carlie: So Dario did move to the USA to be with you. What were the factors that made you guys decide after one year to not stay in the States?

Kacie: Yeah. Okay. Well, he came to New York at just a wonderful time. It was like, December 2019 he arrived and then three months later the COVID pandemic hit.

Carlie: Oh, right. Of course. Gosh.

Kacie: Yeah. And so it was actually, you know, a silver lining because we were together instead of having to be long distance for that time. But yeah. And so, he was very fortunate to have a job where he could still work throughout the year.

Carlie: Because he’s a chef.

Kacie: Yeah, ’cause he’s a chef. So yeah. Sucks, right? Anyway, I was a professional dancer in New York, that was my career, that’s what I grew up doing. And when COVID happened, my industry like completely shut down, basically. Even if I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do it anymore. And it was crazy because when I couldn’t do it anymore, I realized that, you know, I wasn’t wanting to go to class, I was relieved I didn’t have to go to auditions. I was feeling that way, which I was like, oh, I probably should listen to that. And I realized maybe I wasn’t as happy doing what I was doing as I thought I was.

So, I took a little break throughout that year and then toward the end of the year Dario’s visa was up, and because of COVID, because of everything that was happening in the US, getting a renewal visa for him was just impossible. It wasn’t going to happen. So that’s when I brought up, well, why don’t we try Italy? Like, my industry shut down. I have no idea what I’m doing. Like, let’s give Italy a go for six months, give it a try. And here we are a year and a half later. So…

Carlie: Such a high-pressure kind of situation under which to be establishing and continuing a relationship and having to make those decisions too. I know so many people have made life-changing decisions during and following the height of this pandemic.

Kacie: Yeah. You know, it was, but at the same turn, I’m very fortunate that Dario is such a supportive partner and we are very on the same page with each other. And so, you know, when we were discussing back and forth, it was a very open discussion and just like listening to each other’s needs and wants. And yeah, it just all worked out very nicely. But yeah. I mean, it’s not easy to make a decision when you’re in the middle of a pandemic as well. Obviously.

Looking back on it, there were a lot of silver linings that happened, because if, you know, we had never gone through that, I would never have realized that I needed a change. And I probably would’ve been too scared to make the decision to move to Italy because I would’ve been in the mindset of, I have to be a dancer in New York and blah, blah, blah, without having the opportunity to see what was on the other side of that. So yeah, it all worked out basically. Yeah.

Carlie: Absolutely. And the other side of that, for you, has been social media fame. So, you’ve developed an online community of more than a million people. We know that people can be very intentional with their social media these days, you know, there are so many content creators out there. Were you one of those people who started posting content about Italy with the hope that maybe you’d go viral?

Kacie: No, Carlie, no. Like literally, it’s so funny. It was the biggest accident on the planet. Like truly, if you had told me a year ago that what would be happening now would be happening, I would’ve thought that you were off your rocker.

No, it was a complete accident. We were on the plane, moving to Italy, and I had never posted on TikTok, I never posted on Instagram, I used it for like videos of cats and cooking. Like, I really did not even know how to use these platforms. Honestly, I still don’t even know how to use these platforms. I’m winging it. But, anyway, we were sitting on the plane, moving to Italy, and I made this compilation video, cause I heard this really pretty song, and so I made a compilation video of Dario and I’s relationship just purely to show him, purely to be like, look. So I did that and then uploaded it, and then I turned off my phone for 17 hours while we were travelling to Italy. Got here, opened up my phone and realized that the video had gone viral. And I was like, oh ok.

Carlie: Wow, it happened that quickly.

Kacie: Yeah. It was crazy. I was like, oh wow. And then we were in mandatory quarantine for two weeks, so I was like, well I’m bored. Like, what else am I gonna do but like make some videos? Cause I was learning all this interesting stuff and it was more, honestly, for me at first. It was just for me to like put something out on the internet of all these things that I was learning and all these mistakes that I was making, cause there was a bunch and there still is a bunch.

And I found that other people either were making the same mistakes as I had or were interested in learning about the mistakes that I was making and just learning more about this culture. And yeah, it just grew to something bigger than I could have ever imagined. I’m very grateful. Yeah.

Carlie: So you’d been to Italy before you moved, but what did you really know about Italy and the Italian culture when you first came to Italy to live?

Kacie: I really didn’t know much. Because I think that there’s a lot of things. Like, you can Google, of course. Like, you can use the internet,  you can research and only learn so much. But at the end of the day, there’s only so much that you can learn by searching it on the internet.

There are a lot of things that you really don’t know until you experience them yourself. And those were the things that were tripping me up. It’s all the little things. Like, gosh, I don’t even know. Like Italian hand gestures and what they mean, or just like language stuff that was happening. Or, you know, you can’t go outside with wet hair, no cappuccinos after 12, like it’s all these random little things that I had never-

Carlie: You can’t go outside with wet hair?

Kacie: Oh, no. The Italian nanas, “no, no, no, you’ll get sick”. I’m like the queen of going out with my hair wet and I learned very quickly that that is a no-no. So yeah, it’s just all those little things that you would just never think to Google, that you just kind of have to experience yourself. And those are the things that I was like, oh, I’d better post this so other people don’t make the same mistake.

Carlie: And on the back of these posts, you’ve really established a bit of a career for yourself. But was that your intention? Because you know, you were a performer in New York, you were coming to Italy. What was your initial plan for work when you got to Italy?

Kacie: Honestly, I did not have one. I hate saying that. But when I moved here, I was already teaching English online for a company, just like as a part-time job, and I was like, well, I can do that in Italy because I’m on a study visa, I’m studying Italian at an academy here and you can work part-time on a study visa.

And so then I was like, oh, I’ll teach English on the other side. And that was my plan. And that’s what I did for the first six months. But after that, I was like, I don’t really know. I guess we’ll see where it takes me, where life takes me.

Which is crazy because I am a very type A person. I like to have things planned out. From the age of three, I was like, I’m gonna be a dancer in New York. And that was what I did. And so to kind of go into it and have to be very open to receiving whatever life threw at me was a big change, but one that I’m very grateful that I did because it wouldn’t be where it is today. So…

Carlie: And following your stories, it seems like a lot of doors have opened on the back of you going viral on social media. So can you tell me about some of the projects that you’re able to do now?

Kacie: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. So, I started my own business, which I’m probably the most proud of. Because I realized very early on that I’ve always had a passion to travel and I’ve always wanted to help people travel here, and I knew I wanted to do something when everything started growing, I knew I wanted to do something and put it all in one place.

And so I created my business, which is Kasie Rose Travel. And I sell eBooks on there, I have a blog, I offer travel consultations to help people plan their trips and plan itineraries here. And then I’m also starting to offer group trips, which I’m really excited about, and a little nervous, but mostly excited. So we’re doing four group trips this year to Italy, which is gonna be exciting.

Carlie: Kacie, I wanna get into some common misconceptions and Italian culture shocks because you share so much of that on your social media channels. And I know I have learned a lot, and you do live with a chef as well, so I really wanna start with food. And can I just say, personally, the biggest shock for me, I lived with an Italian flatmate in London for about four months, and one of the things she said to me was that Chicken Parmigiana, which is such a celebrated dish in Australia, doesn’t exist. Not a thing?

Kacie: No it does not.

Carlie: Not really Italian?

Kacie: No, it is not. There’s eggplant parm, eggplant parm is Italian, but not chicken parmesan. In fact, Italians do not put chicken on pasta. It’s like a Cardinal rule. You do not put chicken on pasta. You have your pasta first and then you have your chicken for your second plate. For Americans, I would say it’s probably Fettuccini Alfredo. I can’t tell you how many Italian restaurants-

Carlie: But that is so classic.

Kacie: You know, you would think, but it’s not classic Italian, it’s Italian American or at least the version that Americans know it as. I think that’s probably the biggest one. I’m not sure how it is not in London or Australia if Fettuccini Alfredo is a big thing, but it’s probably the one that I’ve heard the most controversy of. Because technically, okay, technically the dish was invented in Rome. Technically. But the original dish is only butter and Parmesan cheese. That’s it. Butter and Parmesan cheese.

When Italian immigrants came to the US, they obviously had to adapt to American taste, they had to adapt to new products, things like that. So they started adding cream to it in order to adapt to American taste, which is the version that Americans saw it as, it’s a thicker creamier, heavier sauce. You will never find Fettuccini Alfredo on a restaurant menu in Italy. Ever. Because butter and Parmesan cheese, the original Fettuccini Alfredo, is a dish that Italians actually eat at home when they’re sick. So why would they go get it at a restaurant? Because they eat it at home when they’re sick.

Carlie: Is it like the Italian chicken soup or something?

Kacie: Kind of, yeah. They eat it when they’re sick. They eat butter and Parmesan cheese pasta at home and so no Italian is going to order it off of the menu. So the only place that you’ll find ‘’Fettuccini Alfredo’’ is at the original restaurant in Rome and that’s pretty catered to tourists. But if you see Fettuccini Alfredo on any other menu in Italy, you are at a tourist trap, you gotta run away. It’s not authenitc Italian.

Carlie: I’m guessing they don’t do pineapple on pizza in Italy either?

Kacie: Don’t even mention it. They’ll kick you out. I’m scared about it.

Carlie: That’s one thing that I have learned in my adult life. After growing up in Australia, where we load pizzas with so much stuff, they just don’t put as many toppings on pizzas in Italy.

Kacie: But they do though, but it’s different things, that’s the crazy part. Pineapple pizza is like a mortal sin. Don’t do it. But the thing that gets me, which is so funny to me, is that they also have pizza, it’s mostly for kids, but they have it on restaurant menus, it’s hot dog and French fry pizza. And I’m like, wait a second.

Carlie: Not meaning to be rude, but that sounds more American than Italian.

Kacie: And they call it an American style pizza.

Carlie: Oh, that’s funny.

Kacie: I was like, how interesting is that? But no, they don’t eat pineapple and pizza. But another thing about pizza, which was really shocking to me, is that you don’t share pizza in Italy. Like, you don’t put a pizza in the middle of the table. I don’t know, maybe in London they do that, in the US they do that, but in Italy you don’t put a pizza in the middle of the table and everybody shares. Everybody has their own personal pizza. It would be weird if you shared a pizza. And I thought that was crazy.

Carlie: Can you do a half and half? Cause we love a half and half in Australia.

Kacie: I guess you could ask for it, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody do that.

Carlie: Oh.

Kacie: Isn’t that so strange? Isn’t that so interesting that you like, you have your own personal pizza? And I would think, like, if I ate an entire pizza in the US by myself, I would get sick. But here you don’t leave feeling sick.

Carlie: I was gonna say, I can down a whole pizza myself anyway, so I wouldn’t be so disappointed about that.

Kacie: It’s not the worst thing to happen. No.

Carlie: No. One thing I did enjoy on your Instagram was, I think you were in Sicily, and you were having an ice cream sandwich for breakfast. And I thought, okay, this is somewhere I need to go.

Kacie: Oh my gosh, Sicily. Yes. It’s Brioche con Gelato, or Granita, is something that they have down in Sicily, which is like a kind of Italian ice-ish. But it’s like different flavors, so there could be like pistacchio, or like Nocciola, which is hazelnut. And you get it served with a brioche bun and you dip your brioche in your ice cream and that’s your breakfast. It’s a very common breakfast

Carlie: That’s amazing.

 Kacie: I know. I was like, they got it made down here. My gosh.

Carlie: And I’m a big coffee snob, being from Melbourne, and I’ve always been told that if you order a latte in Italy, they’ll just give you hot milk. Is that actually a thing or are they a little bit more savvy to what tourists are actually looking for? And would they be that mean?

Kacie: If you order a latte in Italy, you will get a cup of milk. Because latte in Italian means milk. And so the chances are that they would give you a glass of milk. Now, if you are in like a touristy city center, they might be like, do you mean cafe latte? Like, do you mean like coffee latte? And they’ll ask you and you’ll be like, oh yeah.

Carlie: Milk Coffee?

Kacie: Yeah. Like milk and coffee. But if you’re like in a rural place and you ask for a cup of milk, like you’re gonna get a cup of milk. And then even sometimes in city centers, if they want to mess with somebody, they’ll give them a glass of milk. But in general, I find Italians are very kind and accommodating, and they know what tourists mean, so they’ll try to be like, I think you mean this, right? So yeah. But I have received a glass of milk before, on my first coffee trip and I didn’t know any better. So…

Carlie: And I’m a big milk coffee person at any time of day. But even I find here in France, people might have a milk coffee at breakfast, but they won’t have it the rest of the day. It’s just purely black coffees. Is that the same culture in Italy?

Kacie: Yeah. Well, so cappuccino is like the biggest milk coffee drink in Italy. But it’s kind of a rule, quote unquote rule, that you don’t have cappuccino after 12. And you can have it after four, but you can’t have it for that in between time, for lunchtime, because it’s too heavy. So, most people either just drink cafe, which is espresso. Or, if you want a little bit of milk, like a macchiato, which has like a tiny little bit of milk and it’s kind of like a compromise between cappuccino and espresso. But yeah, no, I find the same thing, Italians don’t really…it’s black coffee and it’s like strong and quick and small.

Carlie: I would probably need to have six of them to feel…. I’d probably be bouncing off the walls after six of them, but…

Kacie: I thought so too. I was like, oh, I need like two or three of these in order to get me going. Oh my gosh.

Carlie: I’m a quantity person, you know?

Kacie: No, they are so strong. It’s so, so strong. But in the same way, I love having like a big coffee that I can sip on throughout the day (inaudible)

Carlie: Give me a giant mug.

Kacie: I’m like, let’s go, I’m ready. But here, no. Here they’re small and very quick, which was an adjustment. It was an adjustment. So….

Carlie: So living with a chef, and obviously just being absolutely immersed in Italian food culture, what’s one thing that you’ve learned that has been like the most eye opening for you? Or that has changed the way that you prepare and eat food?

Kacie: Oh, a couple things, but the biggest one is don’t break the spaghetti. That’s the biggest lesson I learned right away. Don’t break the spaghetti. That’s the biggest lesson I learnt right away.

Carlie: When you’re boiling it?

Kacie: You’re supposed to just let it stay in one whole piece. And I remember the first time I broke it in front of Dario. And they have this saying that if you break pasta in front of an Italian, it’s like you’re breaking their arm. But because Dario was also a chef, when I broke pasta in front of him, it was not only like I broke his arm, it was like I ripped it off his body. Literally, like, it was the worst thing that has ever happened. It was so funny. It was so funny, but I don’t break the pasta anymore. I’m proud to announce that I no longer break the pasta. So…

Carlie: I wanna move on to language learning, Kacie. Did you already have some high school Italian before you moved to Italy?

Kacie: No, I didn’t know any Italian. I am kind of ashamed to say it now because I wish I had started learning it when Dario and I were living in New York together. But you know, there was the pandemic and the lot was happening in everybody’s minds during that, so I didn’t even think about it. But I started learning when I moved to Italy, which was a big adjustment and probably one of the most and still is one of the most challenging aspects about living here. Definitely.

Carlie: I mean, you are in Florence, which, I’ve never been there, but I understand it’s a pretty established international student town, for example, big tourist town. Does that help you get through daily life a bit easier with limited Italian?

Kacie: Yeah, it does. And I’m grateful that I do live in a city that is so tourist friendly in that sense of just like everybody speaks at least some level of English. Like, worst case scenario, we can fall back on English as a safety net. But, I also live in a residential part of Florence and a lot of the people around here are Italians and they speak Italian.

And so English isn’t something that I can normally communicate with on a daily basis here. And just, you know, also dealing with even the simple things, like filling out paperwork and going to the immigration government office, that’s all in Italian. Like it’s just those little challenges that would make it so much easier if I spoke Italian fluently. But then on top of that, just to add another thing on top, I always wanna be respectful of the fact that I am living in Italy, I should learn Italian because it is the national language here.

Carlie: You’re in their country. Yeah.

Kacie: I would never want to like, assume somebody speaks English. I want to  at least try to speak their language. It’s my ultimate goal, to learn Italian. Just because I think it’s the respectful thing to do. I’m in their country. I can learn their language. They don’t have to resort to, you know, speaking English to me in order to get by. That’s not how it should be. So…

Carlie: And so you mentioned that you wish you’d started learning Italian before you moved. And I think, you know, hindsight is a beautiful thing and so many people have, even myself, have that regret. Why didn’t I choose French in high school instead of Japanese? Like, you know?

Kacie: Yeah. And you know, I learned Spanish in high school. I studied it for like eight years. I don’t remember any of it now, especially now that I’m learning Italian. I do not remember any Spanish because the languages are so close together that I forget it. I can’t remember Spanish at all.

Carlie: Right. I was gonna say like, there are some similarities, so have you muddled Spanish and Italian, or?

Kacie: Well, so when I first started learning Italian, if there was a word that I didn’t know, for some reason I would suddenly remember it in Spanish and people would be able to understand what I was saying, which was kind of crazy.

Carlie: Because it’s so close.

Kacie:  Yeah. But now that I’m learning Italian, l forget it. I can’t remember any Spanish. It’s just like, I can focus on one language at a time. I applaud people that can speak more than two languages. Cause like, holy moly.

Carlie: Oh, completely.

Kacie: It’s not easy to keep all that straight. Like, wow.

Carlie: And we all have different methods of learning, so what has been your best learning method that you’ve kind of figured out?

Kacie: I always try, when I go out, to always speak in Italian. And if somebody starts speaking in English to me, I say, in Italian, I’m actually learning Italian, can we speak in Italian because I’m trying to learn? And I find that, you know, because it’s not a language that many people choose to study, Italians are actually very excited when you are learning Italian and when you try to speak Italian. So much so that they usually are like, oh, well it’s actually une not una. Like they give me like tips and pointers which is really cute and very helpful.

Carlie: I think that’s really brave. Because I know when I’m out and about and I speak French and if someone replies to me in English, I just immediately assume I’ve messed it up. And so I just continue in English because I’m so shy to be like, actually I’d like to try again, you know?

Kacie: Oh, yeah. Well, no, it can be so discouraging. And that’s how I was at first too. And then I hit like the year mark, and I don’t know what happened, but it was like from one day to the next I was like, F-it. Like, I’ve got to learn somehow.

Carlie: Nobody knows me.

Kacie: Yeah. You know, because I was so nervous to speak, and sometimes I still get really nervous to speak, but like at the end of the day, how are you going to get any better if you don’t make the mistakes? And at this point I’m like, you know what, if I make a mistake, at least I’m trying and that should count for something. So…

Carlie: Yeah.

Kacie: French is hard though. I can’t even imagine trying to learn French.

Carlie: I think it’s the same in Italian with the gendered words.

Kacie: Oh my gosh. That’s the hardest part when you come from English, is the gendered…yeah. It’s really hard.

Carlie: Yeah. And just that like, I keep wanting to fit a circle into a square. Like I want to literally translate everything and French will not be literally translated. And that makes me so frustrated.

Kacie: Yeah, same. Oh my gosh. Same. And like you can’t translate it literally. And I’m just like sitting there trying to translate it and it’s just not making sense because you can’t do that. You have to like learn certain phrases and just have them be what they are instead of trying to translate them into English. It’s really difficult. Yeah. Can relate.

Carlie: Yeah. It just messes with all the logic in my brain.

I wonder if you have this same experience with Dario, I have a French boyfriend and I wasn’t sure how literal French stereotypes were when we got together, and then one night I heard him upstairs playing video games and suddenly he got really, you know, intensely focused on something or upset and he goes, oh la la la la la la la la. And I just went, oh my God, it’s for real. They really do say that. And the more la la la la las they say, like, the more intense the situation is, you know?

Kacie: Oh my gosh. Yeah.

Carlie: Are there some Italian cliches like that, that actually, for reals, just make you happy inside, you know?

Kacie: Yes. Mamma Mia.

Carlie: Mamma Mia?

Kacie: Mamma Mia is something that they actually say. Yes, they say Mamma Mia and it’s like their version of, oh my gosh. Or like, oh my God. Like, they say like, oh, like I don’t even know, like, oh and then she went to the store like later on, Mamma Mia. Like it’s like this, Mamma Mia. And I lost my mind when I heard somebody say it casually the first time. I was like, what? Crazy. I was like, I thought that stuff just happened in movies, but no it’s real. People do say it often.

We don’t have air conditioner here. It’s so hot I have the fan blowing on me.

Carlie: Same.

Kacie: It’s so bad.

Carlie: France and air conditioning is not a thing and it drives me crazy.

Kacie: No, not here either. Not very much. It’s like a hundred degrees or, well, what is that? My gosh, what is that? 38 degrees Celcius here. That’s freaking hot. It’s hot.

Carlie: Yeah, close to 40. That’s hot. Yeah. It’s the same here. It’s stressful. So how do Italians keep cool? Because I know here in France, some of the government advice is to like wet a towel and put it against your open window at night so the breeze comes through. Do you have advice like that coming from your government?

Kacie: Like, no. I don’t know what it is, like, Italians just have it running through their veins. Like it’s just something that they’re used to.

Carlie: They just deal with it.

Kacie: I guess. It was so funny because the other night we were laying in bed and I said to Dario, I was like, my love, I think we got to get an air conditioner, like I’m dying over here. And he turns to me, jokingly, but he was like, well, Kacie, you’re in the Mediterranean now. And I was like, what does that mean?

He goes, you have to get used to it. Joking, of course. But I turned to him and I was like, Dario. I was like, you have Mediterranean blood running through your veins. My ancestors come from Eastern Europe. I’ve lived in Michigan an New York, in the Northern part of the US. I was like, I am not used to this heat without air conditioner.

So yeah, they just get used to it. It’s crazy too, because it’s something that Italians have told me about how they can peg, at least American tourists, probably tourists in general, but American tourists.

Carlie: Cause they look hot.

Kacie: Hot, but also like in the summertime, I was walking out today and there were Italians wearing full length pants. I was like, are you guys insane? (inaudible)

Carlie: I saw a woman on the bus in a trench coat. And I was like, but it’s a heat wave?

Kacie: Yeah. I was like, how? Brava, but like how?

Carlie: Yeah.

Kacie: But it’s so funny, because I’ve had my Italian friends, you know, tell me when I’ve been like, well, how can you peg American tourists? And they’re always like, well, you guys are wearing shorts and dress in May. And I’m like, yeah, well, May is like the beginning of the summer. And they’re like, it’s not summer. It’s still cold. I’m like, no it’s not. But now I get it because Italians are outside in the middle of July wearing pants. It’s crazy.

Carlie: Half of my family is from Malta and I went there in late April, early May and it was sunny and I’m like, I am jumping in the water. And yeah, it was chill, but I was so excited to swim because I’d been living in London and it was still cold and here the sun was shining, and all the locals just looked at me like I was crazy. Because for them it’s just not swimming weather yet. The water’s still too cold.

Kacie: Oh yeah, no, it’s the same thing here. Like, I would wear a tank top in the beginning of May, even though, you know, it was like, I don’t know, it was warm enough for a tank top. And people were like, you’re gonna get sick if you wear that. You need the jacket, you’re gonna get sick.

Carlie: Is this like the wet hair thing?

Kacie: It is like the wet hair thing.

Carlie: You’ve spoken in your Instagram stories about your previous career as a Broadway performer and people ask you if you miss it. And you know, I used to work in Radio Wey, I understand people looking at your job and thinking it’s so amazing and how could you ever leave such a dream job? Do you ever have thoughts about whether you made the right call, especially I suppose now as in New York, you know, Broadway is back open again?

Kacie: I don’t have any regrets. No. And I don’t have any doubts that I made the wrong decision. I love to dance. I love to perform. That’s always gonna be part of me. That’s always gonna be in my blood. I love to make people laugh and smile. It’s just part of who I am. However, unfortunately, the industry is not one that I like very much. And I had gotten to the point where I started to hate the industry so much that I started to hate dance. And I don’t want to hate dance because I love to dance. There’s a lot of rejection. There’s a lot of toxicity. And that started to translate into how I felt about performing and that is not something I would ever want because it’s such a core of who I am and I don’t wanna hate that part of me.

And so I think, you know, at the time it was like, oh my gosh, what am I gonna do? Like, I wonder if I’m making the right choice. But now I look back on it and it was probably the best choice I’ve ever made because it’s allowed me to start a very healing relationship with performing and dancing. And there are times when I do miss it. Of course. I mean, again, it’s such a big part of who I am and there are times when I do miss it, but I don’t regret at all. Because, again, it’s in my blood. I’m always gonna perform somehow. And like maybe I’ll dance again, who knows? Like, I don’t know, but I’m really happy with the life I’ve created. I’m really happy with where I am now. And I’m really happy with where life takes me and I’m open to where it takes me next. So we’ll see. Yeah.

Carlie: I think a lot of foreigners can relate to that. Expats can relate to that. Because it’s so common to need to make a sacrifice with your career when you make a big life change, like move to another country. And keeping that sense of identity or finding a new sense of identity is such a common issue that, let’s face it, women, expat women, seem to go through quite a lot.

Kacie: Yeah. And, you know, I think it’s important to remember that you can miss old aspects of your life. You can miss your old life and you’re allowed to grieve what you have given up while simultaneously embracing your new life. The two aren’t connected, you’re allowed to miss one while also embracing the new.

And I think that’s probably one of the most important things to remember. Because there’s this weird thing, and you probably can relate, but there’s this weird thing that happens, especially when you’ve transferred your whole life to do a new country with new customs and culture and maybe even a new language, that what everybody sees is, oh my God, how lucky you are, like how beautiful, how amazing, like you’re so lucky. And there are times when you feel like that, there are times when you feel like the luckiest person on the planet, right?  But then on the other end of that, home sickness and, you know, what you’ve given up and what you miss comes out of fricking nowhere and hits you like a truck, like literally out of nowhere. And it can be like one minute you’re on a high and the next minute you’re on a low, right?

Carlie: Yeah, absolutely.

Kacie:  Yeah. And then there comes the complicated emotions with that of feeling guilty for feeling that way, because you should, quote unquote, be grateful. You should be, you know, feeling lucky for being where you are. And like, you’re not allowed to feel those feelings of loneliness or sadness because you’re in this beautiful, amazing, wonderful place. And it’s just not true. It’s, you know, that line of thinking will cause you to spiral down really, really quick. You have to like, you know…

It’s complicated emotions and it’s a lot that goes into it when you transfer your whole life to another country. There’s a lot that goes into it when you transfer your life to a different city, like let alone (inaudible) across the ocean. But you got to let yourself feel those things, I think. And you gotta let yourself not shove those down because if you shove them down the longer that you put them off, the harder it’s gonna be to deal with.

And they will always be there, I think. I mean, again, I think maybe you can relate, but you will always have those feelings. You will always have those feelings. There are things that you’re allowed to be sad about, that you’re allowed to miss while also recognizing that you made the right choice. You know, they’re not mutually exclusive. But it it’s hard. It’s not easy. And it always comes in wave and it will always be there. So, I think it’s about recognizing that and feeling the feelings when you feel them, and knowing what you can do to help that is like the first steps.

And recognizing that it’s normal too. Like, gosh, we all go through it. And I feel like these feelings of guilt that we all have about feeling sadness or feeling home sickness, like, I feel like those feelings are always hush, hush. Like, don’t talk about them, don’t share about them because you’re going to seem like you’re ungrateful. And it’s just like, we’re not gonna do that. Like, we’ve got to recognize that it’s a very real part of moving abroad.

Carlie: Some people back home, to me, have been like, oh, your life is just so exciting, and you’re living a dream life in France, and all this kind of stuff. And sometimes I think, yeah, it’s pretty cool. And I have to remind myself of that sometimes, because a lot of the time it’s pretty mundane and I go through the exact same life stuff that everybody else goes through, except I’m having to navigate it in another language, which adds like another layer of complexity to the simplest thing sometimes.

Kacie: Oh my gosh, even like going to the grocery store. My gosh, the first time I went to the grocery store here, forget it. I had a breakdown. I was like, I can’t do this. It’s so stressful.

Carlie: That was me in the post office.

Kacie: Oh, the post office. Forget about it. Oh my gosh. Forget it.

Carlie: Weighing my vegetables, I got completely scolded by the lady in the checkout at the supermarket because I didn’t put the stickers on my fruit and vegetables. And I’m like, I did.

Kacie: Do you have to do that in France? You have to do that in France?

Carlie: Yes.

Kacie: We have to do that in Italy and I didn’t know. I had no idea. Oh, I got scolded too. Don’t worry, it’s ok.

Carlie: (inaudible) such a doofus.

Kacie: Oh, don’t worry about it. And the post office, forget about it. No, it’s just so funny because, you know, there is that part of it where, you know, of course you’re living in this beautiful place and like it’s stunning and of course. But, at the other end of that, you’re also living in this place. You’re not just visiting. You’re living, which means-

Carlie: I just wanna send the letter.

Kacie: -which means there’s other things that you have to… you know, you have to do it. And those are everyday life things. Except in our cases, we’re doing them in a different language. Even if you’re not doing them in a different language, they’re still freaking annoying because it’s not your, you know, your country of citizenship. And so it can be really, really difficult.\

Carlie: But in spite of all the difficulties, there are so many people, from students to people wanting to give their children an international upbringing to people approaching retirement age, who absolutely dream of living the good life in Italy. So what would you suggest are the top pieces of advice that you could give? And I know the advice probably changes depending on what stage of life you’re at too, perhaps, but what’s your top pieces of advice for people looking to make a move to Italy?

Kacie: Gosh. I think it ties into a bit what we were saying before. I think the biggest piece of advice I can say is like, take a deep breath, recognize that it’s not always going to be easy, but it is a hundred percent worth it.

Luckily, and I say this because I do it, social media is so prevalent and there are ways to connect with other people, that you normally would never be able to talk to through online platforms, where you can receive help, advice, suggestions, things like that. There’s so many Facebook communities, Facebook community groups for immigrants in Italy, expats in Italy. Foreigners in Florence is a Facebook group here and people post  questions all the time. And, luckily, you know, we have that now, which is such a valuable resource.

Carlie: So useful. I just joined People Renovating in France, and I’ve had to mute the group because there’s just so much information coming through that I am overwhelmed. But it’s a good problem to have.

Kacie: No it is. But I’d say like, that’s probably another piece of advice, find these local community groups, find the people who also transferred, find the expats, find the immigrants, because they have gone through the same thing that you have. And, luckily, now it’s easier to find them because of social media, because of these platforms, because we’re in this digital world where you can connect with other people that have gone through this before. So, find those people and lean on them because they know and they’ve gone through it. I’ve gotten so much advice and so many questions answered by people that I’ve never met in real life. So yeah.

Carlie: And now you are the one dishing out that advice to other people, which is great.

Kacie: Oh gosh. I’m glad. I’m glad that the videos are helpful because again, it’s just every mistake I’ve ever made, put on the internet for everybody to see. So, I’m glad it’s helpful..

Carlie: I have one final question on that note, Kacie, because I was watching one of your videos the other day, and I realized this trend that has been all over Instagram and TikTok of people doing that hand gesture to the song. And they’re talking about things that just make sense. And then you point it out, that hand gesture does not mean what you think it means.

Kacie: No. No, oh my gosh, so that hand gesture, the typical Italian one that everybody uses when they talk about Italy, that gesture means, I don’t know if it’s okay to swear in here but I’m gonna say it anyway, it means what the f***? Like, what are you doing? Like what are you saying? Yeah, that’s what that gesture means. And it’s so funny because all my Italian friends, like when that trend started going viral, even Dario turned to me, he was like, why is everybody doing that hand gesture? Like, it doesn’t make sense in the video. And so I’m glad that I could maybe steer, you know, in the right direction.

Carlie: I’m so glad I didn’t make one of those videos because I was reading that it’s meant in… Maybe it started in sarcasm, that people were saying things that just make sense when they’re actually ridiculous, but people aren’t using it that way.

Kacie: And I think that’s probably where it was born. It was probably the things that make sense, but it was in a sarcastic way, in which way the hand gesture would make sense. But I think it’s an important thing to remember because, you know, those trends, the Italian hand gestures, they go viral. And of course, because Italians do talk with their hands. Yes they do. But I think it’s important to remember that the gestures actually do have meaning and they actually are a part of the language. Like, they really do use their hands to express words and communicate. It’s a form of communication in the Italian language that has been there for centuries. And so like, if you’re going to do it, make sure you’re maybe doing it the right way. Just to be respectful, you know? Yeah.

Carlie: Yeah.

Kacie: But it is funny though. That’s really funny.

Carlie: It’s completely scared me off doing any in social media hand gesture trends now.

Kacie: No. No, don’t let it scare you. It’s a part of the language and people will correct you, if anything. but it’s all lighthearted to fun. So, yeah.

Carlie: Well, Kacie, it has been an absolute pleasure to chat to you for the Expat Focus podcast. Thank you so much for your time. And I look forward to following your Italian summer adventures. You’re doing a few tours, aren’t you?

Kacie: Yeah. Oh gosh, I’m doing four tours. So we have the first one, actually, in a week and a half, which is crazy. And then the end of August, and then mid-September and beginning of October. So it’s going to be a crazy couple of months. But I’m excited.

Carlie: I look forward to seeing where you’re going to take me throughout Italy through the power of Instagram.

Kacie: Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to have you along. Thanks for having me, girl.

Carlie: That’s it for today. If you want to hear more about life in Italy, search our YouTube channel or your favourite podcast app for this episode: Running a B&B In The Italian Countryside. Subscribe to the Expat Focus newsletter for monthly updates, you can sign up at expatfocus.com, and I’ll catch you next time.


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