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x-pat factor: Tiffany Parks

November 9, 2011
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I have a special treat for you today-introducing a new rubric that will hopefully become a constant here at Italian maps-the x-pat factor-every new post will bring a new expatriate, living, working and blogging in Italy. We will try to figure out what is it about the bel paese that attracted them and what is the truth behind la dolce vita. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoy getting to know these amazing people. 

We kick off our series with Tiffany Parks of  The Pines of Rome.

image  in pink

*Who? My name is Tiffany Parks. I was born and raised just outside Seattle, Washington and have lived in Rome for the past seven years. It is hard to explain my decision to move to Italy. I did not come, as many people do, for work or love or a specific reason, but instead simply on instinct.

*Why Italy? Since I was a little girl, I have felt an unexplainable pull towards Italy. Perhaps it dates to when I found out I was ¼ Italian on my grandmother’s side! Or maybe it has something to do with my love of Italian opera. Whatever the case, I dreamed of moving to Italy for many years. Several visits and a few study trips only deepened this desire and finally, in 2004. I stopped talking about it and got on a plane.

*What is the best thing about living in Italy? Living in Italy is an incredibly enriching experience. From a visual point of view, you are surrounded by beauty, particularly in terms of architecture and nature. That combined with the delicious food, the fantastic weather, the pedestrian culture, the close personal contact with people and the simplicity of life, all heighten your senses and can give you a thrill just at being alive. As an expat in general, simply living outside your own country challenges you on a daily basis in terms of language and cultural differences and this in turn helps you to be fully present in every moment. It is difficult to “tune out” in Italy, as there is always something grabbing your attention and pulling you into the present.

*And what is the worst thing?? The most difficult thing about living in Italy is by far the bureaucracy, and unfortunately this affects most areas of life. Things are painfully slow here, which can be nice when you are on vacation, but when if you are trying to start a business, earn a degree, get a job or even rent an apartment, it is easy to get frustrated with the seemingly endless hurtles you have to jump through. As an American, unless you have lived in a third world country (I’m not exaggerating), nothing can prepare you for the number of papers you will have to fill out, offices you will have to visit, lines you will have to wait in and fees you will have to pay if you want to live and work here legally. It is worth it, but only if you truly love it here. Many expats leave once the novelty wears off, but others fall so in love with this country that they stay for the rest of their lives.

*What advice would you give to someone considering moving to Italy and starting a new life there? The best advice I can give to those considering moving to Italy is not to imagine that you will be stepping into la dolce vita, where all your problems will disappear in a cloud of cappuccinos and gelato. Yes, Italy is wonderful and magical, for the reasons above and much more, but life will still go on. Just like in any relationship, the newness will eventually fade, but if you’re like me the delight and appreciation never will. But for many that is not enough and some leave disillusioned. You’ll still have the same struggles and problems as you would in your own country, and, in fact, life will be harder. If you plan to be in Italy for the long term, make sure that you are coming for the right reasons and not because it looks so fun in Eat, Pray, Love or Under the Tuscan Sun.

*Thanks, Tiffany!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2011 13:09

    Excellent, excellent advice in the end. This is a cool concept, the x-pat factor. We are, i think, an underestimated part of the Roman economy and culture:-)

  2. Patty permalink
    November 14, 2011 21:01

    The paper work to become an Italian sounds astounding. Very nice article by Tiffany. Thanks X-Pat Factor! Patty

  3. Andy permalink
    November 29, 2011 20:56

    Hi Tiffany,

    Nice writings. Love them. Keep it up and may be one day we’ll meet somewhere in Rome.



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