Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why am I still here?

The more time I spend in Italy the more often people seem to ask me the big question - why am I still here?

It's not something I find easy to answer though, especially as many Italians I know can't understand why I'm still here after nearly two years and eight months. I'll say it straight away, Italy isn't an easy country to live in, not even for Italians, and especially not for foreigners. The bureaucracy is unbelievable; I consider myself very lucky to be an EU citizen as it saved me so much stress. But things such as getting residency require so many documents and so much time, I felt exhausted afterwards! Then there's the politics. It saddens me so much that Italy's the laughing stock of much of the world. Not that Italy doesn't actually deserve to be laughed at after certain events that have happened recently... The extreme right-wing Lega Nord are part of the government (for you Brits, imagine what it'd be like if the BNP was part of a coalition government... Scary thought, right?), and during the recent administrative elections in Milan the right-wing used a lot of racist and scare tactics in their attempt to win votes from the Milanese.

But Italy's just like any other country - in Europe at least - there's the bad, but there's also the good. I feel very lucky to consider Milan as my home. Only yesterday I got asked by a tourist (I could only narrow the accent down to being Eastern European and no further) where I was from after he'd asked me to take a photo. "I'm British, but I live here." I replied proudly. And I am proud to live here. It's a country of breathtaking landscapes, beautiful cities full of history and traditions, and a welcoming people. The pace of life here's more relaxed and less stressful. And of course, you can't beat the food!

To me it isn't necessarily about where you were born or grew up, or not even where you fit in. Being blonde haired and blue-eyed people here know I'm not Italian before I've even opened my mouth. And as much as that can annoy me at times, I know being foreign and 'different' has made me a stronger person. It also gives me the excuse to be a little bit eccentric! It's given me much more confidence too. I'm happy here, and to me that's what counts. And that's how I usually answer the question - I'm still here because I'm happy here.


Anonymous said...

You got the point: happiness.
Life after all is a constant search of happiness, and I kind of envy you since you have found it near Duomo.

Italy is being referred to as a joke by many countries and yes, it deserves it, but as a true lover can forgive the flaws of the beloved, you seem to have forgiven Italy's ones.


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

An excellent answer to the question.

Nerys said...

Thanks to both of you!