Time flies and it has now been eight months since I relocated from Italy to England: crazy! Over these months, I have learned a thing or two about how to survive the pitfalls of relocation.
Skype is one of my best friends now: I manage to keep in touch with family and friends on a daily basis so that I don’t miss them too much, and having the chance to actually “see” them through a web cam is really handy, as it does look a bit like they’re in front of me. Of course, there are some things a virtual conversation can’t communicate, such as the fact that I cannot make them feel how cold it is in England when my Italian friends complain of the “cold weather” (15 degrees) where they are. I would say that’s summertime in the UK! However, all in all, homesickness is much more bearable thanks to technology. And my family have started sending me parcels with yummy Italian food in every two to three months so that makes things better!
I am also happy with how much English I have learned and continue to learn (you never stop learning new expressions), although my accent is just impossible to get rid of. I still get moments when an English word does not come to mind, or I do horrible calques from Italian, or I create my own syntax. But to be honest, I also have this experience in reverse, when I use a literal translation of an English word to express an Italian concept! So sometimes I do end up thinking I am losing both my mother tongue AND still learning a new language! That is scary – I feel like a baby learning how to speak all over again!
Another funny thing that has happened since I moved is that I realised how familiar I had become with hearing a specific accent. Living in Preston, I am surrounded by the Lancashire and Mancunian accents. About a month ago I went down to London to visit a friend, and the people I talked to all had a London or Midlands accent. I had to ask them to repeat some sentences a couple of times because I was struggling with the way they spoke!! It was a real eye-opener to learn how familiar the northern accent had become to me … and I have a giggle when I think that until some years ago the London accent was the proper English accent for me!
I am still enjoying my life abroad, and I would not be ready to give all of this up: the different culture, speaking a different language, guessing where a person is from (or having people guess where I am from), spotting cultural differences and similarities, although it can be quite stressful as well at times.
People at home ask me how my life here is, and I am always happy to tell them new and funny anecdotes. The only thing is, I wish they would stop asking me “so, how is London??”, as I don’t live there, and it’s quite a distance away! The idea non-English people have of the country is still very much related to London, to the point where the equation is usually “England=London”. Other equations I have come across include England=rain and England=bad food, which are all stereotypes I am desperately trying to defeat!
You can find out more about Elisa’s experience relocating from Italy to England here.