From Los Angeles to Venice - Expat Interview With Marie

Published: 16 Dec at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
Marie Ohanesian Nardin moved to Venice, Italy from Los Angeles, California just over 25 years ago after a vacation set her on the same small canal as the man of her dreams: a Venetian gondolier. A whirlwind romance filled her heart and soon she and her handsome Venetian were walking down the aisle of a 17th century church to say "Si.I do!" Today, they are the proud parents of two college age daughters, and a 3 year old Labrador named Bacco. Marie loves to write about the local culture, food, wine, celebrations and the idiosyncrasies that other expats and tourists might find entertaining or expect to run into while in Italy. Marie is currently putting the finishing touches on her first women's fiction novel "Beneath the Lion's Wings". Marie's blog is called Italy to Los Angeles and Back (see listing here)

Italy to Los Angeles and Back

Here's the interview with Marie...

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.

In which country and city are you living now?
Venice, Italy

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in the Venetian countryside for 25 years, and I plan on spending the rest of my life here.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I fell in love with my husband who is Venetian, and moved here. I keep myself very busy with our two college age daughters, and I'm currently writing/revising my first women's fiction "Beneath the Lion's Wings". I hope to find a good literary agent to represent it for publication. I also teach English as a second language.

Italy to Los Angeles and BackDid you bring family with you?
I had my family here!

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition was very difficult, particularly the first year. I didn't speak the language, I didn't understand the culture and I didn't have the same 'career oriented' lifestyle that I had left in Los Angeles. But, little by little, I became accustomed to life in Italy, the slower pace, culturally rich surroundings, and decided it was a very good place to raise my family, too.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
To this day I don't understand why it was so difficult to make female friends here. I do have one good friend who was kind enough to approach me, almost like a welcoming committee, twenty plus years ago. But, unlike the many female friends I still have back in the States, it seems that most Italian woman aren't as prone to adult 'girlfriend' friendships. And it's only been in the last few years that I've met and mingled with a small expat group here in Veneto; I don't know where they were before!

Italy to Los Angeles and BackWhat are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The best thing to do here in Venice is enjoy the uniqueness the city has to offer. Get to know your neighbors, and learn the language. I believe to understand people and their culture well you must learn to speak and understand their language. I would suggest that future expats try not to cling too much to the expat community, at first. Get to know the Italian way of life, and 'how things work'. It is so very different, in every aspect, that in order to understand it you must live it, and not fight the system. This is Italy, not your home country. Accept that things are done differently, and just try to learn how those things are done, without questioning 'why'...too often.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
I enjoy the slower paced lifestyle, the beautiful surroundings, and the incredible 'made in Italy' food, fashion, handbags and shoes! I feel lucky to be able to use a very good National Health system, too. But most of all I love being so close to so many other fabulous places to vacation in or visit: Milan, Rome, Florence, Amalfi, Sicily, Calabria, Greece, Spain, Austria, London, Paris....I could go on and on!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Taxes are higher here than they are in the States, however, we do have a very good Health system. Food seems to cost a bit less, for better quality; gasoline is very we drive a Hybrid; Clothes can be more expensive, but I've learned from the Italian women to buy a few very good classic items, and add to them season after season.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The only real negatives are that service often seems less friendly here. The customer isn't always right! But the most negative factor is that I'm far away from my immediate family, and my best friend.

Italy to Los Angeles and BackIf you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Take your time to get accustomed to your new life. Things do not 'run' as they do back home. So try not to be too frustrated when having to learn how to deal with daily living all over again. For example don't expect that just because the postal service works in the States or the U.K. that the same expedient service will be provided here. Italy is Italy...the United States of America is the United States of America!

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
That was long ago, but it was finding a comparable job to the one I left in Los Angeles. I've had to reinvent myself a few times, but in all honesty, I've enjoyed doing so, and like where I am in my life.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Learn the language.
  2. Don't be afraid to make mistakes--it's a learning process.
  3. Make it an adventure.
  4. Socially, don't stick to solely expat friends, make friends with the locals, too.
  5. Love your life in another country. Not everyone has this golden opportunity!

Italy to Los Angeles and BackTell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I began Italy to Los Angeles and Back just under 2 years ago as a vehicle to speak about my experiences abroad and for the joy of writing. I write mostly about life and cultural events that may be of interest to those who travel or might be interested in knowing more about Venice, the Veneto and Italy. I desire to show my readers a view of my 'new' country as seen through the eyes of an expat who has been lucky enough to live in Italy like a local.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
They can LIKE my 'Italy to Los Angeles and Back' Facebook page and contact me there:

Marie blogs at which we recommend a quick visit if you haven't been already. Italy to Los Angeles and Back has an listing here so add a review if you like! If you appreciated this interview with Marie, please also drop her a quick comment below.
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