Canadian Expat Living in Italy - Interview with Jasmine

Published: 22 Jan at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
Jasmine grew up a second-generation Canadian on the Western part of Canada in Edmonton, Alberta. She is a city girl with a love of country music. A true romantic, she is an avid cook and wine drinker. She studied Italian and pharmacy at the University of Alberta and thoroughly enjoyed her community pharmacy practice after graduating in 2013. She was seduced by Europe and wanderlust when she was eighteen, from the moment she stitched a small Canadian flag onto a backpack. Jasmine has been blessed to travel extensively and her favourite worldly moments include eating half'-a-dozen Portuguese custard tarts in one sitting at Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon, singing Aerosmith under the Eiffel tower (there may or may not have been some €5 wine involved), dancing in gay bars with bouncy floors in Beijing, learning to drink vodka straight on the Trans-Siberian railway, and bungee-jumping on the border of Tibet and Nepal. She is currently a blogger and private conversational English teacher. In her spare time, she reads, paints, and writes about Italy. Jasmine's expat blog is called Questa Dolce Vita (see listing here)

Here's the interview with Jasmine...

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

In which country and city are you living now?
Currently living in Bergamo, Italy.

How long have you lived in Italy and how long are you planning to stay?
I have just moved to Italy (since December 2014) and am planning to stay permanently.

Why did you move to Italy and what do you do?
I moved for the age-old excuse of chasing love- my fiancé was born and raised in Bergamo. Currently I write for my blog and other websites about travel, fashion, and living in Italy. I also teach English conversation.

Did you bring family with you?
No, everyone is in Canada.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Admittedly not terribly difficult as I studied Italian prior to moving which is a HUGE step already surpassed. I'm having more difficulty with the way public/private/government services are run, that is, with having my first taste of bureaucracy and red tape.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
I socialize with everyone. Luckily, having an Italian fiancé is useful for that since I get to have instant Italian friends (his friends and their girlfriends). However, I have great connections with expats as well. Even having just arrived, I've already infiltrated myself into the local English-speakers Meetup group. I think it would be more challenging if you were to move to Italy as an expat couple. There are excellent expat resources though, I was surprised to find so many fellow expats living in Bergamo!

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
The best thing to do in Bergamo is go for an evening walk in Città Alta, the Upper City which is old and historical. It is filled with great restaurants and quaint bars.

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy?
What I enjoy most about living in Italy is the fact that you are constantly surrounded by beauty, culture, and history. There is something about the pace and style of living that is unique to Italy. The Italians just know how to enjoy life and they don't feel guilty about indulging and slowing down to savour absolutely everything from moments to food.

How does the cost of living in Italy compare to home?
I'm not the right person to ask that to since I'm notoriously terrible with budgeting. I was living at home with my parents working a full-time professional job in Canada so my fiancé always tells me I have a terrible concept of expensive vs. not expensive. From his point of view (he lived in Canada for quite a few years with me), he says eating out and drinking are cheaper for sure. Housing is definitely more expensive as it is anywhere where there are lots of people and minimal space.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?
Being away from friends and family.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Italy, what would it be?
Start learning some Italian before moving, at least the grammatical basics and the rest you can learn by living here.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Trying to get my documentation in order and having to go from one office to the next using public transportation. Not truly a complaint, more just something difficult to get used to after having been used to driving everywhere and being extremely independent in Canada. Or for more complicated interactions (especially phone calls), having to rely on my fiancé to talk for me. It's hard to be dependent on another person!

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Do your research. Choose a city or town that has lots of resources or a good chance of having expats, at least for the first bit of your move. I think it would be exponentially more difficult to be isolated or to have minimal interaction in your mothertongue (before mastering Italian of course).
  2. Study the language. Pretty obvious but it's going to take one more thing off an already full plate.
  3. Put yourself out there. Attempt to make conversation no matter how nervous you are or how little you can say. Sign-up for social meetings or groups online (such as Meetup) and get out there and meet new people. That's how you'll succeed at making friends.
  4. Be flexible. Maybe you came to Italy to be a food reviewer but instead you get asked to teach English to kids...just go with it and take on as many opportunities and new experiences as come your way.
  5. Take time to enjoy the little things. In the beginning I was super worried about finding work but everything tends to fall into place when you least expect it. You moved to enjoy a different way of life...make sure to find the time to live it.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
Questa Dolce Vita is essentially a blog that showcases my lifestyle since moving to Italy including all the ups and downs along the way. I enjoy dabbling in a variety of different creative areas so in addition to writing, it includes photography and painting as well as musings on food, Italian language, travel, and fashion.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via my blog which is updated daily and provides contact information.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJasmine is a Canadian expat living in Italy. Blog description: Jasmine is a (former) pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy. She writes and photographs all her adventures and mishaps on living the expat life.
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