Is the Italian culture a shock for expats from the UK?

Is the Italian culture a shock for expats from the UK?

Is the Italian culture a shock for expats from the UK?

Moving to Italy is many would-be expats’ dream, but culture shock still needs to be dealt with.

For those hooked on a vision of Italy as a romantic, stunningly beautiful land of music, song, delicious food and wine and a cultural history going back several millennia, nowhere else will do as an expat destination. Italians call their land the ‘bel paese’ – the beautiful country – and they’re absolutely correct, but life in Italy as an expat can also be confusing, frustrating, infuriating, somewhat odd and decidedly delightful. Even if you’ve struggled to get a basic command of the language, it’ll take time to fully understand the culture.

For most new arrivals, it’s not the Mediterranean Sea that’s in the front of their minds, it’s the sea of red tape needing to be navigated by every expat. Long-term expat residents cry over the total lack of customer service in local administration offices, and simple tasks take all day. Admittedly, it’s not as tough as its equivalents in, say, Asia but, for newbies, it can cause tears. One way to deal with it is to realise nothing ever happens quickly, as the slower pace of life is a cornerstone of Italian culture.

Newly arrived expats from the UK will be amazed at the fact that total strangers will stop and say ‘buon giorno’ to foreigners rather than avoiding their eyes and scuttling away, and another shock is the two-hour lunch break considered mandatory for every Italian and, by extension, every expat as well. If you’ve chosen to live in a rural area, everything stops for the entire afternoon, meaning shopping, appointments and banking all have to done before the typical elongated lunches loved by locals.

Perhaps the biggest shock of all for incoming expats is the born-in kindness, friendliness, and generosity of the average Italian, meaning confused, newly-arrived expats can get the genuine help they need exactly when they need it. For those arriving from the UK, experiencing this massive cultural difference can result in even more confusion, but it’s just another demonstration of why they chose Italy, even if they didn’t realise it at the time.

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