Leaving My Dead-End Job and Moving to Italy
I’ll admit: moving to Italy after graduating college was probably a cop-out. I felt ill prepared for the world ahead of me. I was in the same post-graduation limbo that so many of my friends were; we were all working odd jobs to pay rent, wasting what extra cash we had on cheap wine and bar tabs, or otherwise spending the rest of our waking hours trying to figure out what it was exactly that we wanted to do with our lives.
I suppose the period of my life was one of the most predictable situations that could have happened to a 22-year-old who graduated with a women’s studies degree. “What are you going to do with that?” asked everyone. Answering this question over and over again while showing up to a dead-end job I hated every morning was not how I wanted to spend my days… especially the days that comprised my young twenties. I felt lost. So naturally, I decided to escape.
I’ve found that it’s far more satisfying to take a few risks in life while I can, rather than stay needlessly anchored to a life of predictability with which I’m far too young to feel satisfied.
I saved up money at that dead end job as long as I could stand it before I came to Italy. I was going to earn my certificate to teach English as a foreign language. I snagged a plane ticket, showed up in Florence, and started my course a week later. I was stressed, overwhelmed, thrilled, nervous, and ecstatic. I met some of the most amazing people I could have ever imagined. After the course was all said and done, I truly shuddered to think what I would have been doing had I never taken the leap to go abroad. I finally felt some satisfaction in my life, and it was derived from a decision I made myself.
Now that I’ve recently accepted a position as an English teacher, I still feel a little lost. But this time, I’m also excited. After several months here, I’ve begun to realize that life will continue whether or not I’m ready for it. I’ve found that it’s far more satisfying to take a few risks in life while I can, rather than stay needlessly anchored to a life of predictability with which I’m far too young to feel satisfied. I (finally) came to the realization that I actually have command over my own life.
Why Italy? To be completely honest, I’m not sure. It seemed like one of those places that everyone raved about so much that I felt like I didn’t need to actually see it. I could simply listen to the stories of friends or Google a few images and I’d have the general idea.
But then I got here.
I’ve come to recognize that no country or city or town can really be described by a photograph or story. The things I’ll experience and remember about Italy will come in a different form: in smells and tastes and sights or in feelings of general confusion and exhilaration. It’s kind of an amazing thing to realize that you, alone, are the only person who will experience these exact feelings when you go abroad.
The things I’ll experience and remember about Italy will come in a different form: in smells and tastes and sights or in feelings of general confusion and exhilaration.
Sure, we will all go to the same monuments and museums when we travel to any given city. I saw the David, I climbed the bell tower of the Duomo. I also got scolded by a museum attendant for snapping a photo of the David, and I passed out on the stairs of the bell tower. These are somewhat unique experiences in and of themselves, but what you feel and sense internally when you finally let go of your routine is what’s really unique. It belongs to you. Remember the smell of the burnt espresso in your apartment, and remember the feeling of your cheeks flushing when you stumble over “basic” Italian phrases at the market. Unless you’re fluent in both Italian language and culture (or any foreign language and culture), expect to feel both embarrassed and uncertain at times. It comes with the territory. Embrace it. Buy a gelato to make yourself feel better.
As trite as the words are, at some point, we should all stray from our comfort zone a little bit. What I’ve found has been nothing less than extraordinary, but I first had to stop waiting around for the good times. That’s not to say that all the bad times disappeared when I came abroad, but for some reason, the “bad” times seem a little less bad… and the good times seem a lot better.