American Expat Living in Italy - Interview with Sophie

Published: 5 Feb at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Italy
Sophie moved to Italy in the fall of 2011 when her professional-hockey-player-husband signed a contract with a team in Cortina d'Ampezzo, located in the beautiful Dolomites. Ever since, Sophie and her husband have split their time between Cortina and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where they live in the summer. While in Italy, Sophie teaches English, manages her blog (, and writes for several publications in the US and UK. She loves to travel all over Italy exploring new places, eating fried artichokes and tasting red wines. Sophie's expat blog is called Here We Go Again.... (see listing here)


Here's the interview with Sophie...

Where are you originally from?
I grew up in Massachusetts, went to college in Colorado and have been spending each summer for the past few years in Steamboat Springs.

In which country and city are you living now?
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy

How long have you lived in Italy and how long are you planning to stay?
I've lived in Cortina for about 8 months out of each year since 2011 and I'd love to keep doing that for a few more years.

Christmas in Cortina
Christmas in Cortina
Why did you move to Italy and what do you do?
I moved here with my husband for his job - he's a professional hockey player and he signed with a team in the top Italian league 4 years ago. At first it was hard for me to find steady work and I spent a lot of time exploring the area and learning about Italy - the lifestyle, the food, everything. Now I teach English and I'm a freelance writer for a few publications back home in the US.

Did you bring family with you?
I came with my husband.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
Relatively easy! Cortina is a very small town and we got to know a lot of the locals who were very friendly. Obviously there were so many things that were different from home, but I'm a pretty laid back person and I wanted to take in the experience fully, so I didn't worry about too many of the, Italy isn't too terrible of a place to live!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?
For us, it was easy because of my husband's job. Many of his teammates our first year here were North American and they had wives who I became great friends with. Being a part of a team helped integrate us into the town more too - we got to know the locals who followed the team, and made friends with the Italian players (and their families) on the team.

Mountain View
Mountain View
What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Cortina is a ski resort, so skiing is obviously the number one thing to do in the winter. In the summer there is lots of biking and hiking too. I think Cortina is located in a great spot, because if you drive an hour or two, you are in the German-speaking part of Italy which is totally different and super interesting. Or you can go South and you're in Venice in an hour and a half.

What do you enjoy most about living in Italy?
Even though we've been here for four years, I love feeling that something exciting, new and different could happen at any point in the day. Whether that's trying a new pasta at lunch, doing a few ski runs in the morning or stopping for a glass of wine after grocery shopping, small things like that feel indulgent and make you appreciate the simple things that make you happy throughout the day.

How does the cost of living in Italy compare to home?
The things that I notice most are food related. Eating in restaurants here is much less expensive than at home, as is having a drink before dinner. I'm always shocked when we go back to the US and a glass of wine is $10! In Cortina, you can get a great glass for 3 euro.

What negatives, if any, are there to living in Italy?
Obviously we miss our family and friends back home. It can be hard to miss out on things like holiday celebrations, weddings, birthdays. We try to see as many people as possible when we're home for the summer but there is always someone we need to catch up with!

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Italy, what would it be?
Don't compare it to where you came from! It's important to appreciate it for what it is and take away what you can from your experience here.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
The hardest thing for me was finding work that I was happy with. I didn't want to NOT work at all but I didn't want to do something where I was chained to my computer all day with no time to appreciate my surroundings. Now I feel like I've found a good balance between writing and teaching because I can make my own schedule, but it took a long time to get to this point.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think we go through this a little bit each summer when we go back to Colorado. At first, it's always fun to eat Mexican food and shop at Target, but that gets old really quickly and it's only a matter of weeks before we start craving that slower Italian lifestyle again. When we return to the US for good, I think it will be a huge adjustment knowing that we aren't leaving again when the summer is over. But at the same time, it will be great to have our families closer and to know that we can be there to make up for all those Christmases we missed!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Indulge. This is a time in your life you will never get back. Make sure you experience everything you want to while you're here.
  2. Make an effort with the language. Learn a bit before you go and then try to speak with locals as often as possible in their native language. Even if you're terrible at first, they'll respect you for trying and you'll pick things up faster if you're speaking with native speakers.
  3. Absorb as much as possible. Take the time to learn about your city or town, say yes to invitations and try as many new things as possible. Living in a foreign country can be overwhelming at times, but it's important not to hide in your apartment. Get out there and take advantage of this time.
  4. Be flexible and understanding of different cultures, values and ideas. Even if you think your way is "better", you're in a different country now where they do things differently. Even if you think it's ridiculous, try not to get too frustrated - you can laugh about it later.
  5. Write everything down. I've kept many journals since we've been here and when we travel, I write down everything from the hotels we stay in, the restaurants we ate at and everything we saw or did. That way when people ask me for travel tips, I can remember what we liked or didn't like - and one day it will be fun to re-read everything and remember this incredible journey.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I write about everything from our Italian adventure including our travels, favorite recipes and stories about Italian living.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
You can contact me through my blog,

About the author

Expat Blog ListingSophie is an American expat living in Italy. Blog description: Here We Go Again is the story of an Italian adventure encompassing everything from food, wine and travels to the hilarious perks and flaws of living in Italy.
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