Tag Archives: Expat

The Italian Way

16 Dec

In Italy, things are done differently, it is the Italian way of life. Some of it is good, while others is not so good. Some of it is logical while others is illogical. But if you want to live in this beautiful country then it is up to you to adjust and accept.

Italian people are friendly, helpful, kind, love children and accepting. Growing up I always wanted to travel. In fact I made songs up about it with my brother. The big hit was called ” Hawaii”. I dreamed of exploring new countries, discovering cultures and hidden gems. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would of lived in a California and now Italy.

Italy is a place people dream of, for the food, wine, the culture, history and beauty. It was a place I wanted to visit but was never my top destination to discover.

We have been living in Italy for almost 4 months and I have to say Italy as surprised me. From the beauty, to the Italian bureaucracy, to the culture to generally living in a country where English isn’t its first language. Has it been easy? Definitely not! But I have learnt more about myself than I thought and discovered the beauty of this great country.

When you make a change, it gives you the opportunity to rediscover your passions and to reconnect with what is important to you. The last 3 years have been a whirlwind, the birth of our two preemie children have been the most amazing thing to happen to us but have also been the most emotional, particularly with our first Grace.

This assignment is a time to rediscover who I am, what I want out of life and return to my goals I made long ago. So time to set goals for 2018. As 2017 comes to a end I am thankful for the opportunities given, the magical moments and are excited for what lays ahead.

As I toast out 2017, I wonder what 2018 will hold. My goal blog is to come! It isn’t about the destination but the journey!

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Another day, another glass of Prosecco!

7 Dec

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My eyes open and a new day begins. I stretch out of bed to hear ” Momma Momma” and the day is underway!

I venture out into the cold to walk the kids to school as Grace is singing all the way. The city is starting to wake up, the smell of coffee in the air and a new discovery awaits.

I start with my morning coffee and I see what the day holds. From coffee dates, to volunteering to errands, some days are normal life while others are about discovery the city and Italian life.

I get asked most day where am I from? What brought you to Turin, Do I like Italy? And what school do my kids go to?

It is funny that the same questions are asked and the excitement I get to speak to someone in English. If they are Australia, it is like Christmas.

But what I find really interesting is that every expat is different and every experience is different. What is common to me isn’t the same for another.

So far it is interesting what people expect our Italian life to be like. People say I have spent time in Italy on vacation and it is magical, I would love to live there, all the time. Let the truth be told vacationing in Italy and living in Italy is entirely different. I mean it is completely different.

Now there are some similarities, the food, the culture and lifestyle. But what is not expected is the Italian bureaucracy, the inconvenience factor and the lack of technology. Once you face the fact that these factors can’t be changed and you personally just need to adapt, then your life will be easier and enjoyable.

From my recent blog, I have had requests on top 5 tips of living in Italy so here we go.

1- Patience ! Number one top tip is patience. Be aware that things take time, you are not in control of everything that is being done and time has no limit.

2- Flexibility– be flexible in all situations. Sometime things in Italy are not logical, and don’t always have a straight forward process so the key is to adapt and be flexible

3 Network– meeting people makes a big difference to your experience. Join meet up groups, international groups, moms groups, what ever interests you. Making friends and sharing experiences always makes me feel more settled.

4 Make your house your home– make your home feel like home. Send over your furniture , put up paintings, set up your house and make it feel like a home. We shipped all of our items and it made a world of difference particularly to our children.

5 Be open minded– go with an open mind. Try not to compare Italy to other places, try not to concentrate on the negative but instead embrace the positive. If you are constantly comparing you will always be disappointed, rather start new experiences, enjoy what Italy has to offer and embrace it.

So with all that said it is time for another glass of prosecco.

Until next time, Ciao!

 

An Aussie gal takes on Italy

22 Nov

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It has been some time since I have written a post and this is why. Aside from having two kids under 4 we moved from San Francisco, USA to Turin, Italy.

Yes you read it we moved to Italy! We have been here almost 3 months and it has been an adventure.

Let me just create a scene for you… firstly the top questions I am asked – no I don’t speak Italian, yes I have been to Italy before, no I didn’t think I would ever live here, yes I know it gets cold and no I am not prepared for it, we moved for my husbands work and finally yes we brought the dog.

I have been abroad a long time now but never moved to a country where English isn’t the countries first language.

So what do I think, well that’s a hard one. Firstly I love Turin, the people, culture, food and scenery are amazing. The bureaucracy, lack of online services, language and the steps to do things can be tricky.

What I have found interesting about moving to Italy is the things I didn’t expect and what I am learning along the way.

So here are my top discoveries I have found to date-

Moving with kids– firstly I have never done this before and secondly it makes things even more complicated. Italian love children and are very accommodating. With that said there isn’t always the baby conveniences like other countries. I think since we have been here, I could count on one hand, the times I have changed Will on a changing table and not the floor.

The cold– it is safe to say that this Aussie gal is not use to cold and or rain. Imagine me with a double stroller and an umbrella. It resulted in a drown rat, that rat being me. I mean what the heck is a foot muff. In case you a wondering it is like a sleeping bag pouch which attaches to the stroller to keep the kids warm. Finally, everyone where puffer jacket and I was told to embrace the puffer and I did and you know what they are great.

Technology– now I know I have come from Silicon Valley, tech savvy place of the usa but I guess I didn’t realize what a tech life we have been living, from remotes on everything, fast internet, wireless security, overhead lights just to name a few. Here everything is engrained with such rich history and beauty but doesn’t alway have the tech bells and whistles. It makes me realize what a tech life we have been living and how people in Italy arnt on there phones, internet or social media all the time but rather are relaxed and enjoying what is right in front of them.

Each day I am seeing, learning and discovering more and more. It is interesting as along the way I am rediscovering myself and not as a wife or as a mother but rather as just Sarah.

We all have dreams and goals and some of those I had forgotten and you know what it is time to reconnect, rediscover and reward.

At the end of the day all I need is love, laughter and prosecco! Cheers until next time xoxo

 

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From Trailing spouse to Expat mother 

6 May

Being an expat is an adventure! It is an amazing journey of highs and lows, laughter and tears, goals and fears and most of adventure! 

My love of the USA started back in 2005 when I came over to be a councilor for summer camp. California was like no where I had been. The food, people, sights was like nothing else. 

We then returned in 2008 and spent 8 years on and off in the States. We were expats. When we returned to the states in 2013, I knew we would have children abroad. My husband and I always wanted children and I knew it would happen in California. 

With that said we had two beautiful children Grace and William. This is when the transition of trailing spouse to expat mother occurred. Being a expat is one thing, being a expat mother is another. 

As a expat you are constantly navigating daily life- banking, working, insurance, housing. Having a baby in a foreign country takes on a whole new world. From navigating the medical system, to citizenship, to health insurance to then taking on parenthood. 

What I have realized is when you change from a trailing spouse to a expat mother something inside of you changes. Yes you have had a baby but something else. It is as if it makes you more independent, resourceful and resilient. 

Being a mother is no easy task no matter where you live but living away from family and friends adds a further challenge. Now for me, I have lived away from family a long time. I haven’t lived in the same country or place as my parents for over 10 years. But it is when you have children you wish you lived that little bit closer. 

As a expat you constantly have to put yourself out there, to make friends, try new things to take on new adventures. Being a expat Mom has a whole set of new challenge. A fellow reader asked me about my motherhood experiences recently And what are my top tips for surviving motherhood as a expat. This was the inspiration for this blog, so now to share my tips! 

Well here are my top tips! 

Support– reenforcements, family, friends, mother helper 

Mothers groups- find/ meet other mothers, find people you click with, have something in common with. 

Date night- find time to have some adult time and enjoy a date night with your partner.

Hobbies– continue or find a hobby just for you! Tennis, going to the gym, language class, choir. Something for just you! 

Intellectual outlet– find something that simulates your mind- work, study, writing a blog, keeping up with the news. 

Wine– if all else fails wine! Everything also seems clear upon a nice glass of wine. 

Motherhood is an amazing gift, journey and adventure. It is powered by love, fueled by coffee and sustained by wine! 

Trailing spouse- trailing mother- travel widow wife 

16 Jun

        

      I am often asked what do you do, why are you in the USA, where is your husband and the question I am asked almost daily how do you cope with your husbands travel. 

      A reader of mine ask me to write a blog about how to cope with having a husband that travels. To that reader, this blog post is for you. 
      More and more people are traveling for work, both interstate and overseas. Some travel a little and others travel a lot. 

      I grew up with a Dad that travelled a lot in fact he commuted from Perth to the eastern states weekly. My Mum made every effort to make a happy, positive household. I can now start to understand what she went through as a mother and what a truly amazing job she did. 

      When I meet my husband, little did I know that he too would travel a lot. I have been with my husband for 11 years and over that time his travel has increased slowly until the last 5 years where it has become more often. 

      Having a husband that travels is far from easy, especially now with a newborn. But we make it work and enjoy spending time even more when we are together. 

      Over the years I have gained tips and tricks of being what I like to call a travel widow wife. A wife who is alone while there husband travels for work.
      So here our my tips for how to cope with a traveling husband

      1- Keep in contact- messages, viber, FaceTime, calls, whatever it takes to keep in contact on a daily basis. 

      2- Keep busy- plan out your days, while he is way- meet up with friends, work out, do chores, what ever your interests are ,fill your time with your favorite things to do.

      3-Schedule – it is crucial to plan. If I want my husband at an event or appointment then I plan around his schedule. We have what we call “black out day” where it is a must he is here and he tries to work his travel around that. 

      4- Communicate – communicate your thoughts, plans, daily thoughts with him. Make sure you include him on decisions and daily goings so he feels apart of the family. 

      5- Flexibility- flexibility is key. My husband travel changes all the time and it is key for me to be flexible and not to take it personally. 

      6- Support– ensure you have support around you- friends and family. Our friends are our family as we are expats living overseas. However I call my parents every day and they can FaceTime with our daughter. They are always there to support me and give guidance. 

      Every day I learn I new tip or trick and I never stop getting advice and support from fellow mothers. Being a mother, expat and a travel widow wife, is still new and I seek help when needed. 

      Enjoy every moment with your husband and make those moments special. Plan trips, date night, family outings and enjoy the ride! 

        

      Traveling with a baby= a new travel experience! 

      13 Mar

      

      Each day millions of people around the world travel. They travel for holidays, business or pleasure. 

      Travelling in my opinion is an art form perfected over many years. From packing the perfect amount of cloths, picking the best flights and connections, requesting the best seats to getting through security in a timely manner, getting sleep on the plane and avoiding jetlag on arrival. 

      Now I would say that I am or rather was a good traveller, I would arrive to the airport with plenty of time, pick the shortest line with no families when going through security and relax in the lounge before boarding.

      What I didn’t realise was when we had our daughter my travel plans would change. It was now about feeding schedule, changing diapers and packing for the baby. I had become one of those people, you know the people who you dread seating next to, as they had a baby. 

      I am that person. My appreciation for parents on long haul flights has changed to amazement. I was the person holding up the security line and collapsing the stroller at the gate. 

      I did so much research before our long haul flight from LAX to SYD, I asked every parent for advice and did a pre pack and prepped as much as possible. To be honest it went brilliantly! She slept 13 hours out of 15 hours. I could not have been prouder. 

      So with that said, a recent reader of mine asked me for my 10 top tips when travelling with a baby. So I dedicate this blog to them and here are my tips.

      1- Use an umbrella stroller or carrier-as much as possible before you board the plane 

      2- Pack light– Pack the essentials you need for yourself and the baby but don’t over pack 

      3- Travel insurance– make sure you get travel insurance for the baby. That way if anything goes missing it gets damaged you are protected. 

      4- Book a bassinet on the long haul flight if possible.

      5- Feed or give the baby a teething toy for take off and landing to assist with pressure changed to there ears 

      6- Lounge access– if possible join a frequent flyer club or buy a day pass and use the lounge prior to flying and during connections. That way you can change, bath, feed the baby easily.

      7- Ask for assistance– everywhere I went I was offered assistance, take them up on it. From security helping you with your items, to the airline staff assisting with boarding and on board 

      8- Get to the boarding gate early and board the plane when offered to do so. On most flights families with children can board prior to a general boarding. 

      9- Toys– bring your babies favorite toy with you. This will assist with providing something familiar to your child and help with the travel.

      10- Change and fees prior to flight– by the time you boarding, taxi and take off it is often an hour to hour and half before you can feed your baby again. Not to mention that is with out delays. So may your baby as happy as possible prior to boarding the flight. 

      So go forth and start travelling. Thank you to all of my dear friends who gave me advice and encouragement to fly. It was worth it, bringing our daughter to Australia for the first time was something I will never forget! 

      Visiting home as a expat! 

      9 Mar
      Visiting home as a expat! 

      As a expat we long for the day to return home for a visit to see friends and family. 

      The excitement of pressing booked on your flights. The anticipation of walking on to a Qantas jet and hearing a Aussie accent and then the final descent into the land down under.

      On arrival you rush to get your Aussie food fix be it a pie, a flat white or some Cadbury chocie. Then you wait to see your family and friends! You reconnect on what has happened in the past year, all the local gossip and you remience like old times. 

      It is a strange feeling! It is like meeting an old friend, familiar yet you don’t see them often. It is as if nothing has changed yet there are changes around every corner. From new restaurents, building, freeways to       friends and family having children, buying houses and moving interstate. 

      Being a expat is like living a double life. We have two houses, two sets of friends and two lives. One is not better than the other, just different. You fit in your life where you are living and the when you go home you fit there too. 


      I am proud to be an Australian and to bring our daughter home for the first time. How long I will be a expat living in the usa, I am not sure. One thing is for sure, is that I will make sure our daughter knows where she is from, make a effort to come home yearly and enjoy the time we spend in Australia. 

      No matter where we live and what we do we will still and always call Australia home! 

      From Trailing Spouse to Trailing Mum!

      30 Jan

      Being a expat is a privilege, a challenge and a journey.

      It doesn’t define you, yet it is a way to identify yourself. I have been living back in the USA for 18 months now, as a trailing spouse.

      A new term I hadn’t heard of, yet now after research, writing blogs and learning more, I now have a better understanding.

      When taking on another overseas assignment, I knew that we would have children oversea. I knew that and I was and still am happy to do so.

      With motherhood comes, amazing moments, challenges, new stage of your life and new found respect for your own mother and those that you know.

      If being a Mum wasn’t a challenge enough try being a expat or rather a trailing Mum. A Mum who followed there partner overseas and has a newborn.

      If you had told me at our one year wedding anniversary that I would be living back in California, having a baby girl who was born 8 weeks early and spent 49 days in the nicu, I would say you are crazy. But that is what happened.

      From that experience I have learnt a lot and have started to experience being a expat as a Mum. Instead of a late night on the town, I am going to mothers group, instead of a last minute weekend away, I am going on a family outing to the farmers markets and instead of a romantic dinner for two, it is now a dinner for 3 and you know what I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      My expat experience is more enrich, meaningful and fulfilled.

      Do I miss my family?
      Do I wish we live closer?
      Do I want our daughter to experience Australia?

      Absolutely! But she is enjoying a life experience that children dream of, not to mention she is a dual citizen.

      Recently I have had a few readers ask how do I do it. How do I be a expat mother. Well I am not going to lie, it is hard work! But I love it! Every single thing about it!

      So to all those other expat Mums out there, here are my top tips for new mother expats, on making the most out of this experience. Also how to survive being a stay at home Mum ( short term or long term)

      Mothers group- sounds corny I know but find a mother group. Both a online forum and a meet up group. This give you a chance to socialize with other Mums, learn from each other and be each other support.

      Hobbies– make sure you don’t lose sight and time for your hobbies. Be it netball, singing, volleyball, cooking anything. Work out a way to continue these interests.

      Time out– find time and a way to have time away from the baby. Go to the movies with friends, a girls night out, dinner with family, anything!

      Communicate– being a expat our family and friends are far away, so make sure you keep them up to date. Send a monthly email, send pictures of the baby, chat on FaceTime, viber, Skype.

      Help– don’t be afraid to ask for help. I learnt this when I was pregnant. A complicated pregnancy meant needing help. I was so touched by the support and help I had from my fellow expat friends. If you need help, ask for it.

      Let’s continue this journey and enjoy motherhood, expat life and everything that comes with it!

      “I am a wife and mother first, then the First Lady!” Go out there and enjoy your expat life!

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      Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful!

      28 Nov

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      So as you all know I am Australian. As an Australian we celebrate Australia Day, Anzac Day, AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup, Easter, Christmas to name a few.

      So Thanksgiving is an new celebration for my family. Today is our fifth Thanksgiving in the USA. I can now say it is one of my favorite holidays.

      It is a time to eat and drink, be thankful and spend time with family and friends. So I guess like Christmas without the presents.

      Today I reflect on the past year and reminisce about the highlights of the past year.

      From holidays, celebrations to births, weddings and magical moments. It has been a year to remember.

      Without a doubt the highlight was the birth of our baby girl Grace. It definitely wasn’t the pregnancy journey we expected nor was it a easy road but is was worth every single emotion and challenge because the result was truly amazing!

      At Thankagiving it reminds you of what is important and the goals ahead of you.

      I am no longer a expat but rather a mother and to define that more a expat mother.

      So let the next chapter begin on my Expat journey as a mother!

      At this time I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and thank you for the support of my blog. I am truly thankful for the encouragement, feedback and enthusiasm that my readers bring me.

      I am signing off on Thanksgiving eve wishing each and everyone of you a Happy Holidays!

      Arriving as a expat and becoming a local

      15 Nov

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      So the decision is made that you are moving, not to a near by town or suburb but across the world to the USA! You are excited, nervous anxious and so much more!

      You clean out your house, pack up and ship your items, have a going away party, eat all your favorite foods at your favorite restaurants and then the day comes that you leave on a jet plane. Good bye home, hello America.

      As you land into your new town, you take your first steps in the USA, you think to your self ok I am here, now what? What do I do next?

      Well here are my top 10 tips for expats arriving into the USA. Each week I will expand on my tips and provide you with more information in relation to being a expat in the San Francisco Bay Area.

      1- Discover– get to know the city you live in. Take a hop on/ off bus and discover all the different neighborhoods and areas.

      2- Research– website hunt, read expat blogs, websites and get tips from those that know.

      3- Network– the best pieces of expat advice I have been given is from word of mouth. Join meet up groups and expat groups.

      4- Credit History– open up a bank account, start a credit card, lease a car but most of all start your credit history.

      5- Create a home– live as though you are not leaving! Buy furniture, rent an apartment, set up your house the way you want it and make it a home.

      6- Embrace American and your homeland traditions– celebrate Thanksgiving, Super Bowl, 4th July! Share your celebrations with your expat and American friends.

      7- Insurance– make sure you have health insurance

      8- Join a club– what ever your interest are join a club or group. Be it Aussie Rules Football, Netball, Amateur Theatre or Pool.

      9- Get involved in your community– do a local fun run, attend a trivia night or a restaurant opening.

      10- Get your California Driving license- by law you are required to get your license within a certain timeframe of arriving in the USA.

      Now set off and enjoy your expat journey!

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