Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Arrivederci, Italia

This is a post that up until a few months ago, I never thought I'd write.

I've decided to leave Italy. In a month's time, on the 15th of July, I'll be getting on a plane bound for Cardiff, leaving Milan and my Italian life behind.

As I was approaching my 30th birthday earlier this year, I started to take stock of my life. For the past year or so it feels like my life has been on a constant downhill slope. Little things have been chipped away bit by bit; things that used to make me happy, things that used to make me feel that yes, I belonged here too. For a while I tried to ignore it. I've always been a stubborn person, who doesn't give anything up without a fight, so it was difficult for me to accept that it was time to give up. Facebook was full of former classmates and people I went to university with settling down, getting engaged, married, and having children. My two best friends from school were married, my brother was married with a newborn baby, and two of my cousins (one of whom is younger than me) had babies too. I was living alone in a studio flat in the suburbs of Milan, spending evenings marathoning whatever show I was fixated on at the time, getting through mountains (physical and virtual) of books, and drinking too much wine. And I realised, this wasn't where I wanted to be at such a milestone in my life. 

The final straw was the announcement of the date for the Brexit referendum. I still genuinely don't know how it will go next Thursday, but thinking of the worse case scenario - having to wade through the already frustrating Italian bureaucracy (I lost half a day going to a government office to hand in my resignation, and I have a normal full time office job! No word of a lie!) to get permits and visas and who knows what other paperwork - would it be worth it to stay here? My answer was no.

So nearly four months ago I decided that it was time to cut my losses, and start the process of leaving the country. I had to give six months' notice on my flat. Six months! That's the law in Italy, unless your contract states otherwise. So since then I've been living in limbo, waiting for my time here to come to an end. That in itself has been a difficult experience.

I moved out here when I was 22, three months after I graduated with a degree in Italian Studies. In hindsight I realise I was very unprepared and naive, but also extremely brave as it was a much bigger challenge than I realised at the time. My initial plan was to stay here for a year or two, but I've now been here over seven.

I moved here on my own, and I'm leaving on my own.

I've been trying to think of what to write in this post, how to sum up the years that I've spent in such a ridiculous and beautiful country like Italy, but it's impossible. I've done things that I wouldn't have done otherwise, met some wonderful people, but also been disappointed and had my dreams shattered in ways I couldn't have imagined. You need a lot of love for this country to live here, and I just don't have it anymore.

I'd like to thank everyone I've met on this journey who's treated me with kindness, who never treated me like an outsider, and who made me feel welcome. Unfortunately there have been some people who have treated me with such disrespect that their actions will scar with me forever, but the vast majority of Italians I've known have been wonderful, and I can't let a few bad apples affect the opinion I have of them. I've had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the country, and travelling to so many different places. I would like to thank one person in particular for having the patience others didn't have. I'm sorry I couldn't return it.

I'm planning on writing another blog when I get back to my homecountry, so watch this space. But as for the Welshie in Italy, time is almost up.

Thanks for following my adventures,