Don’t get me wrong, I will forever be thankful for the opportunity to live overseas. Overall, I’m really enjoying Italy, but there are aspects of living overseas that leave much to be desired. I thought I would share what I miss about the States with you.
1. Modern conveniences. In general, Italians aren’t really about convenience. So things like dishwashers and garage door openers and central air-conditioning are things that most people DON’T have. Have I ever told you how much I HATE doing dishes by hand? It’s a never ending chore, and it seems like I spend hours a day doing the endless supply of dishes. Being able to run the washer and dryer at the same time doesn’t happen over here, but I should be happy that I have both since I don’t think most Italians have dryers.
2. American radio. Italian radio stations are weird. Obviously almost all of the commentary is in Italian, but they listen to odd combinations of music. It’s a weird mix of “current” (as in, within the past year) music, and 1990’s pop. And sometimes they cut songs off in the middle. And there’s really no variety like we have in the States. They all play the same thing. There’s really no country, pop, oldies, alternative.
3. American restaurants. I think people have this false sense of what real Italian food is like. A lot of it is fairly bland. It’s not the garlic-y, cheesy stuff you think about, at least not in this part of Italy. And ALL of the restaurants serve the exact same thing. Pizzas and pastas, and that’s about it. And if they say they serve hamburgers, it’s not an American hamburger by any stretch of the imagination. I miss having food choices SO much! There’s no driving down the street and being able to choose from 6 different types of food. Bummer.
4. Customer service. The States are very consumer oriented. Businesses usually work hard to earn your business. That’s not the case here. They couldn’t care less about earning your business here. Italians have “reposo” every day, which is usually from 12:30-3pm, and EVERYTHING, with the exception of restaurants, closes. Banks, grocery stores, gas stations, they all close for reposo. It’s pretty annoying. And NOTHING happens quickly here. Getting our phone line hooked up, which took the guy all of 5 mins to do, took over 2 weeks to happen. Same with the cable. In the States, usually those people come out and have everything up and running in less than a week. Here you’re lucky if things are up and running in under a month.
5. American TV/ DVR. We do get a few American shows here on our Sky cable, but they’re usually a season or 4 behind. But I miss HGTV and the Food Network and TLC quite a bit. And being able to keep up with all the new shows that everyone talks about on Facebook. They play a few shows on AFN, but it’s always a day or a week behind, so especially with the reality shows that involve voting, Facebook often ruins the surprise. And I loved having DVR in Phoenix. I really miss that.
6. Shopping. There are multiple parts to this. First, I miss actually knowing where to shop. Trying to find anything craft related here is like trying to find the Lost Ark. I’ve asked multiple Italians where to find quilting fabric and none of them know. Or where to get keys made. No one knows that either. Or where to buy motor oil. Having chains (stores) in America makes things easier, and they have chains here too, but most of them seem to be either grocery stores, or furniture stores (like Ikea). And I miss shopping for clothes. I really, really miss places like Old Navy and Target and Kohl’s and Express. They don’t have clothes like that over here. Well they do, you’ll just pay at least 2-3 times as much as you would for them in the States. I haven’t bought any clothes here since I got here almost 4 months ago.
7. Being in a similar time zone of friends and family. We are 7 hours ahead of most of my friends and family here. Luckily my parents usually call me 5+ times a week, which makes me feel a little closer to home. But with our internet working about 5% of the time, my outbound calling ability is slim to none. Plus there have been many times I’ve thought about calling friends at home, until I realize it’s 3am in the States.
8. Fast food restaurants. You don’t realize how nice it is to have fast food restaurants around, until you don’t have them anymore. I take that back. We have a McDonald’s about 20-25 mins from our house and there is a Taco Bell (which I don’t like), Burger King, Subway, Popeyes (which is chicken) and Anthony’s Pizza on base. Out of those, I really only like/ eat at Burger King and Subway. Especially with Abbie, fast food is SO much easier to grab. I really, really miss places like Pei Wei (PF Chang’s bistro), Noodles and Company, Panera Bread, Quizno’s, and any other fast food place that we don’t have here. They really aren’t into fast food in general in Europe. They have Autogrill’s, which are usually with gas stations on the Autobahn’s/ Autostrada’s, but they’re more of a buffet type place. You’ll see McDonald’s in most touristy areas and a VERY occasional Subway, but that’s about it.
Overall, living in Italy has been a dream come true, despite all the things that take a little getting used to. Besides, I figured I can handle almost anything for 3 years. I’ll follow up soon with a post on everything I like about Italy.