January 27, 2011

When you want to give up

I have lived in Italy for roughly a year and a half, and after 7 months of moving to Florence, I developed chronic headaches. I went almost 6 months straight where the headache never went away. Can you imagine feeling 'hungover-esque' every single day, filled with anxiety, nervousness ? It is straining and emotional. I tell you this because for some reason I stuck it out living here, even though I think that was one of the roots of the problems. Accepting that this is not vacation. Living abroad can lead to a certain sense of panic.

A combination of diet, yoga & acupuncture + eliminating stress in my life, I am finally on a road to recovery from feeling so terrible for so many months. I still don't know the root of the problem, whether its stress related, genetic, etc, but I am happy things are improving. I have my close friends here in Florence & my parents to thank for this (along with countless websites with information on managing headaches). 

There are so many things that Americans give up to live in a country like Italy, and a city like Florence.  The main challenge for me is giving up the comfort of my family. Then having medical facilities that we are familiar with, medicines we know, stores open 24/7 if we need something in an emergency. It is scary sometimes living in a foreign country, where things are different. I have had many days where I am so stressed with living here I don't know how I can go on.  You have to accept & be thankful to have a solid job, even if the wages are drastically lower than in the US. I get frustrated when things don't work, and it upsets me when people in Florence can be so close minded. I moved away from Atlanta because how divided people are there, and its the same here. Florentines stick with Florentines (this is my experience, I know its not all, but many). It is impossible to get an Italian woman to smile at you, but the men do - so it doesn't matter :)

I am challenging myself to really fine tune what I want in my life. How I want to live, what kind of person I want to be, and who I want to surround myself with. Life is different here, some good things, some bad. That is just the way it is, and I have accepted so many things I would of never dealt with in the United States. Finalmente, I am patient (however, the Italians wouldn't say so).

This is my typical day:
Wake up with no rush
Meet my girlfriend for coffee, take a walk
Work from the library, the office or the comfort of my own home
Lunch with friends, take a bike ride
Back to work , choosing again where to be productive
Dinner with friends, or at home, where I have finally learned to cook 
*the perk here is when an Italian man shows up to cook you dinner, Si Grazie!
 Work & Socialize with my friends in America

This schedule would never happen to me in the United States. I do not plan too much here, I go with the flow, but I get work done and I get to see my friends everyday. This is the simple life and much better suited for me than how I was living back home. Things fall into order how they are supposed to. I stroll along the Arno River, gazing at the buildings under the sunshine, and I am reminded that I am lucky to live here: THIS never gets old. These are the things that you come to cherish when you become frustrated living abroad. You take the good with the bad, but have to remain focused on the big picture. 

Is my life better ? Am I happy? Certamente. 


leigh said...

Your life sounds so lovely...even if you trudge through with a headache.

I love that you are doing exactly what you want to. It's inspiring!

Loree said...

Life is never perfect - no matter where you are living. Moving to a different culture is certainly challenging but your life-style sounds great.

Val said...

I'm so happy you are feeling better Christine. I believe balance is the secret to life. The hard thing is finding a way to achieve it on a sustained basis.

Miss and love you tons!

LindyLouMac said...

I do so hope that you will find better health in 2011.

Nienke said...

Life abroad is certaintly has good days and bad days. But the best thing is, it's like a pressure cooker for the learning curve. It peaks! And although it can be tiring or frustrating, it is an incredible journey.

And when your ever old and grey, and sitting in your rocking chair, you'll be wandering those streeds of Florence again and smilin',

Bradford said...

certamente!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! p.s. it only took me 6 summers and then 2 years in florence to get an italian woman to smile at me... thanks to Cupido!

Christy said...

Thanks everyone for the amazing comments, it makes me feel so good to know I have such incredible friends!

Nienke, I know you know all too well about living abroad, so thank you for the words of encouragement.

Brad, You are welcome! If I succeed at nothing else while living in Florence, I will be happy! Love, Cupido!!!

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully worded post! I hope that your headaches continue to get better sweet girl! It sounds like you are enjoying your life in Italy...as you should be, its quite a blessing to be living the life you are!!
You are adorable! I'm following your blog and am excited to get to know you =]

marybeth said...

ciao bella!
thanks for sharing your honest experiences as an expat. And brava for sticking it out long enough to hit your stride! Big changes are often scary and require one to develop a "tolerance for ambiguity," which means being unable to deal with uncertainty. But if you're willing and able to get through the scary times, life inevitably gets better, and you become more resilient to deal with future challenges. I envision a great year ahead for you in your new life.
You rock!
tanti abbracci,

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