We might come from all around the world, but we are all Italians at heart – this is my tribe:)
“Meet the Italophile” is all about expat stories who live or lived in Italy; their motivations, challenges, and unique experiences in the new place they have decided to call home.
This is a series of interviews with lovers of Italy and all things Italian and I am really delighted to open this new series with a lovely Teresa! Join us on virtual, sunny piazza, order your drink on us and read about Teresa experience in Florence. She reveals her favourite Italian author, gives us useful advice on how to learn Italian and much more.
Signore & signori, please welcome Teresa!
What is your first Italian word you have learnt?
I think the first things in Italian I heard were “Vieni qua” and “Sei scema” haha, because I grew up with many Italian neighbours.
What is your favourite Italian author/book? Why?
It’s definitely Elena Ferrante and her 4 books of “l’amica geniale”. Each volume is written so detailed that you can imagine every gesture of the protagonists and the appearance of every scenery. I also love that we get to know the life of two Italian girls from their early childhood on till they are like 60. Through their personal stories you get an insight of what life in Italy was like the last 5 decades.
What is your favourite Italian song? Why?
I don’t have THE favourite Italian song, but one of those I like the most is definitely “Laura non c’è” by Nek. My mum often sang it along when I was little.
Do you speak Italian, and do you think it’s important to speak the local language?
Yes, I speak Italian. I think it’s very important to know at least the basics of the language if you want to live in Italy. But – you don’t have to be perfect: Italians themselves often don’t know well another language than their own and they appreciate it if you try to speak Italian, even if you’re not that good 🙂
What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn Italian?
In my opinion it’s important to first learn the grammatical basics in a course or by yourself with a book. When you’re able to build short sentences about daily topics, you should throw yourself in everything that has to do with the Italian language; music, books, films, series, writing diary in Italian, maybe find a tandem partner to practise talking. But you won’t ever get to the point of speaking fluently if you never go to live in Italy, even just for a few months.
5 things you love about Italy?
The food, the architecture, that the people mostly are very kind and that they make decisions based on their heart more than on their mind (that’s at least what I noticed), that the cities and the whole country seem more filled with warmth and life than they do in Germany.
5 things you hate about Italy?
The often confusing bureaucracy, the exam situation at the universities (oral exams in front of all the other students), that you never know when the bus/train etc. will really arrive, that many young people don’t know English and that the restaurants don’t open before 7 p.m. haha
Was it difficult for you to move to Italy? What surprised you the most?
I lived in Florence for half a year and life there wasn’t that different from mine in Germany. I think what surprised me most was that you can adapt to e v e r y situation; whether it’s the condition of the house/apartment you live in, the different perception of time and distance or that it costs you time to find the food / cosmetic products that you’re used to from home.
When did you come up with the idea of living in Italy?
I came up with the idea of spending a semester in Italy about one year before. Studying Italian and French at my university provided a semester abroad, but it was not mandatory.
How living in Italy has changed you? Have you become more “Italian”?
I became more independent and I feel more secure in many situations. If you once had to solve problems with Italian professors, craftsmen or office workers, afterwards every problem you have in your home country seems ridiculous 🙂 Back in Germany I noticed quite a few things that are typical German and that I now sometimes make fun of (for example eating dinner at 6 p.m. or putting the sauce on top of the pasta, when the pasta is already served on the plate).