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An Anglophone's glimpse into Italian life - yes all those moments lost in translation, the awkward never-ending smiles and conversations without finite endings. Remember those? More Info

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September 2013
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Living the Dolce Vita

Straddling two worlds …

September 15, 2013

 Good day all! I had taken a slightly flexible attitutude to my blogging so apologies for the tardy post. It was only six months late, and at least it still contributes to this year’s writing quota. And anybody who has lived through an Italian summer very well knows that even a fly takes a backseat while the heat is on. This year was a particularly long scorcher, with stiflingly long and arid days with shutters down for most places in Rome. The heat coupled with droves of visiting friends and relatives made for a lethal mix of laziness coupled with intense tour guiding through this beautiful city, that is now home. 

And so it was during this process of sighseeing Rome, when I was deeply immersed in planning for the best gelateria after a long day, or explaining different flavours of mozarella that I realized that something had happened. I was living, speaking and breathing contemporaneously in two different worlds. They were each different in their own way, but existing simultaneously at any single point in time. The people before me represented one, and the one that I was living in, was a reflection of another. Australia and Italy were finding their happy medium and I was the conduit between the two! And it was almost like a movie where two dimensions come together in a split second and you see them distinctly captured, but still separate.  Perhaps more like drops of oil in a glass of water, where the lines and demarcations are clearly and meticulously formed, but there is still movement as one tries to form and squiggle around the other.

So this brings me to my current dilemma. How does a migrant to another place undergo the process of change and transformation without losing the key essense of their origins? Is it a gradual change or a process more insidious that just happens on a daily or momental basis, driven by both need and curiousity? Does one feel it as it is occuring or are you just left to the judgment of others who may remark and comment on your ‘Italian-ness’ or local touch? I have had both happen to me, and it came as a surprise as I never once woke up thinking that I was more ‘Italian’ on one day, as compared to the other at anytime during my stay in Rome.  However, there was definitely a perceivable moment where I felt that I was well and truly present in my current reality. It was the “aha” moment where I was not pining for local goodies or something that had existed before. I think it must have been a snap invisible moment when your reality changes and suddenly you are in your new home, with all its attendant fixtures. You have a local café, a local bar, some good drinking buddies, and some other deeper relationships that have gradually formed, during your journey overseas. And I also think that this is the most beautiful part of the living overseas experience. The formative first few years that later morph into the foundation of your new life in your new chosen place: the places, the people, the experiences, the gaffes, the small victories, the drive for adaption, the new words, smells, flavours, conversations that all cascade into a holistic one, that is only yours to cherish and relive.

But this brings me to a connected issue and that is: Can a move overseas lead to a point of no return? What happens if you are so successful in your immersion process that you forget that it was a process and a reality that you had created for yourself for a definite period of time? Does your old world seem like a faraway place, a distant memory that fades away, only to be evoked or revisited like a pair of your favourite worn jeans? I would personally have to admit that I would have a helluva hard time adjusting back into anywhere if I left Rome, as I am way too comfortable here, and the novelty continues to increase everyday. Plus I have to admit that it does feel good to crack out the right Italian phrase at the right time at a dinner table, to share a joke with the local barista and roll eyes at a common municipality problem in a public bus. This small signs of shared living have made me feel that I truly live here, and am not just a passer-by in the Eternal City.

Psychology tells us that our brain changes every minute, everyday. With respect to this specific phenomenon of change, where you are trying your very best to learn and adapt to your new environment and surroundings, I am curious to know how much of it is conscious and how much happens on a subconscious level.

And I suppose that the beauty of our interconnected, global world would definitely have to be that there are now so many opportunities to straddle more than one world, each with its intrinsic delights and challenges, but the joy of discovery is only yours!



by Waltzing Matilda. Find out more about Waltzing Matilda here.

Categories: Change, Migrant life