My Lens Abroad » Capturing My Expat Adventures With My Lens

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Because Rome was not built in a day…

There is something about taking a look back at what you’ve experienced in 2012 making you thankful the year is coming to a close.  The New Year brings hope and excitement of something new, hence the name.  Given this, I decided to give a look back at portions of this year on…being a broad, abroad.

The Issue of the Visas..

2012 was definitely a year of trials for myself and our small family.  Leaving the U.S. on January 2, and embarking on a new life in Rome, Italy seemed so scary and daunting.  We had no idea what to expect, well we did, but none of those ideas came to fruition.  In fact, nothing that we thought was going to happen played out the way it was supposed to.  When we landed there was the issue of my husband getting his laptop bag stolen with his iPad and laptop inside.  Yes, it was annoying, but you get over it.

However, I think the larger issue was the Visas, and finding my husband’s company ‘s outsource firm never filed it.  This process takes three months, call it 12 weeks or 90 days, you pick.  Now, while this is only paperwork, I have never felt like this was the most important piece of paper a tree ever gave its life for.  In fact these tree fibers, and the lack thereof, sent us on an exciting adventure back and forth for a month in the US, 6 weeks in London and a week in Ireland.  Why all the International travel?  There is something called Schengen and non-Schengen countries.  In order to not be deported, and never be allowed to return to the European Union for 10 years, we needed to make sure that we did not stay in a Scheghen country for greater than 90 days.  Therefore London was a safe haven for us–God Save the Queen.  We were living as nomads all because of an unprocessed paperwork and a whirlwind of bureaucratic steps. This activity would have been thought only to exist at a time before President Ronald Reagan requested Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down that wall”.  Ironically Italy is was not a part of the Soviet Union.  And yet, moving around, living in suitcases for eight months, getting the paperwork seemed anti-climatic.

Suitcase Living

Here’s the thing, our son started the journey at 4 years old.  I cannot imagine living like at FOUR.  Having all your toys in a suitcase and then the rest of your house in large shipping crates for months, somewhere, was really a strange scenario for him.  But before we get the violins out, the kid was in London for 6 weeks.  He was to the most amazing museums that people dream about going to.  He developed a big crush on Big Ben, he thought Buckingham Palace was an awesome place to live and love playing a few yards away in a playground at St. Jame’s Park.  While we did live in a hotel room during this period and children under 7 are not welcome at restaurants after 7pm, we made it work the best we could.  I mean, I don’t know many 4 year olds who have been to the London Theater, even if it was to see “Shrek the Musical”.  Okay, in that case, there probably are quite a few.

Where was our “Stuff”

While we were living in Rome in a furnished, one bedroom apartment, we were glad to have it.  However, you just want a sense of familiarity.  Something that you can call your own.  Our life was packed up in large shipping crates in the US.  Because of the Visa issues, we could not even begin to look for an apartment.  More, or most, importantly, was the fact that my son’s toys were in those crates.  Granted, these are just things, but I felt that these things would offer him a sense of comfort in such a strange world.

So, we did get the Visas in June.  My son had started a second school, as the first was not a good fit ,and things were really looking up.  But, as of June our things had not left the US, nor at the end of July.  Finally, at the last week of August, we got the call that it had arrived.  I cannot explain how happy I was for my son.  It was like Christmas for him.

The Fourth Quarter

Who would have thought that the fall would have played out as well as it did.  I think by October I could use the phrase “settled”.  My son started his hew school year, was playing soccer (football) on the weekends, he had friends and we had things to sit on.  I was taking Italian lessons two times per week, managing shopping at the Fruitteria and Alimentari.  We also met neighbors in our building and had visits from our 70 year-old landlady who would drive a scooter to our building when she visited.  Further, as I met new families just in the transition of moving to Rome, I really did my best to offer what I could to them.  And yes, I was envious of their lack of issues at securing their Visas.  But Visas aside, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the community we have found at my son’s school.  That has been a great resource for us, for that we are grateful.

So there it is, just a brief snapshot on getting settled into the 2012 Abroad experience  Yes, it may have taken over 9 months.  But I learned that I don’t need crates with lots of “things” and that I have a whole new city where I have started to create a nice network.

Ciao until 2013!


Amy - As a relative newcomer to Italy, I am impressed by the perspective you’ve gained over the past year. Argh, the paperwork involved in moving here. Glad you are feeling settled. (And I love the pictures.)

Heather O'Mara - Thanks for the note! Settling in is a process…

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