What I miss one month in


Have we really been here a month already? I was looking back at my planner and calendar this morning and saw things like our open house, giving our cats away, our going away party, and our move out day.  It all seems like ages ago. How did the past six months of this idea/dream-turned-reality go by so quickly? It’s seriously a blur.

I was prepared for life to be different here. Foods, stores, ways of life. I knew what I was getting into before we arrived.  But visiting for a vacation is different than making this the new reality.  Here’s what I miss one month in.  I figure that down the road I might not miss these things so much, so I should document them now…


I miss having all I need in one place for a great price.  Trying to settle into a new home – completely furnish and decorate would be much easier with Target, wouldn’t it? I’d like to think so.  Where else could I get 3M command adhesive, night lights, shelves, a cute butter dish, throw pillows, art for my walls AND groceries? TUURget! There are some large “everything” stores here, but they’re no Target. I said my goodbyes to Target many times before I left the US. My heart is still grieving for it though.

Owning a car

Don’t get me wrong, I really like walking everywhere and I hope to learn to ride the bus more often. We chose to live in the center of the city so we didn’t have to depend on a car for everything.  However, it’s been tricky to make our trips to IKEA or stores on the outside of town since we need to arrange a time to borrow from a family member.  Let it be noted that I have no desire to drive here in Italy. When we do get a car, we have to park it in the world’s tightest parking spot. I also don’t think I’m aggressive enough to drive here.  It stresses me out just to be in the passenger seat. The people walking, the bikes, the roundabouts! My in laws graciously gave me a bike to ride.  This city is FULL of bikers – old ladies, women in heals, college students, men in suits, moms with kids riding on the front and back. I don’t plan to bike either.  Let’s just say my lack of experience and fear of being hit by a car combined with the cobblestone streets probably wouldn’t fare well here.

The Public Library

Free books. In English. What else can I say?

Clean, even sidewalks

Cobblestones, old sidewalks – I’ve had a few minor twists of the ankles. You also have to watch for dog poo and pee on the sidewalks.  There’s little grass around and not everyone cleans up after their pet.


Granted, I still hear and speak a lot of English since we attend an international church where English is the primary language spoken. I’ve also started attending an international women’s group where again English is the common language.  Plus my family – English. But when I’m shopping I don’t know how to ask for help or be friendly to a stranger. I can’t make small talk with the moms at school or ballet.

The funniest/worst day so far was when a package came for us and I was home alone.  Since we’re in an apartment building, the delivery man rings our bell, we see him on a video screen and talk to him on the phone. I knew it was a delivery man – we were expecting him, but I had no idea how to answer the door other than to say “Si?”. I’d tried to do it earlier that week when Nick was home.  I’d answered since he was in the shower. “Si?” I said. Jibberish. I froze, let the phone dangle, and ran to make Nick answer. So when I was home alone, I knew I wouldn’t know what to say. I didn’t answer.  I could’ve charaded my way through someone coming to a single house like we lived in before, but without knowing Italian I was stuck.

Thankfully Nick coached me on what words to listen for and what to say.  The next day I successfully answered and signed for two packages!

I’m working on learning Italian.  In the meantime, my Spanish is what keeps coming back to me whenever I need to respond to someone.


I have some days when I really miss my Minnesota friends.  It’s wonderful that with Instagram, Facebook and Google Hangouts I can still keep in touch, but it’s not the same as seeing them each week at church or going to work with them. I get sad that my girls left friends behind too.  We’re getting to know people here and I know it takes time to build friendships, but in the meantime there are some tough days.

Peanut Butter

We currently have a jar of crunchy JIF in our cabinet graciously given to us by an American visitor. A cup and a half of PB is usually $6-7. All of us girls in this house eat lots of peanut butter.  It’s good for us to break the habit, but I’d like to have it easily accessible.  I’ll need to make my own soon to make up for my withdraws. In the meantime Nutella is filling the void.


It’s not a terribly long list, but one I want to remember a few years into our time here.  I’m sure I’ll adjust and miss these less and less. Except for maybe Target.

One comment on “What I miss one month in

  1. Paul Spadoni says:

    Rachel, nicely written, and I feel your pain about the missing store items. We started coming to Italy regularly in 2001, when Italian stores just didn’t have peanut butter, chocolate chips, pancake mix, maple syrup, oatmeal and quite a few other American basics. Much of that has changed now, if you look hard in the large grocery stores or a few random specialty stores. Maybe you’ll meet some one who lives on the military base in Vincenza who can get you things from the base store so you can stock up on crunchy peanut butter. I blogged about the food items earlier this year as well: http://livingwithabroadintuscany.blogspot.com/2015/03/american-grocery-products-more-common.html
    Of course I have also written several entries about the things that I love about Italy, which I’m sure you’ll do as well someday.