Sunday, March 23, 2008

Perception

This post by Kataroma reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write, so here goes.
A friend of a friend was visiting from the US and was asking us general questions about Rome. He was very shocked to hear about the high cost of living and the low wages- and who wouldn't be?! I came to the conclusion that Rome, and perhaps Italy in general, is paradise for refugees and the rich. For refugees- even the measly money they make here is better than what they'd make back in their home countries, so they probably consider themselves "lucky". And the rich... well, they don't have to worry about a thing because they can avoid most of the daily hassles we average people deal with here.

I'm neither a refugee nor a rich person. I, like most American college students, went abroad during my junior year (JYA- say it with me!). I opted for a chintzy program in Rome that allowed me to enroll directly at La Sapienza. I had no desire to be in a foreign country while surrounded by hoards of drunken American students (and pub crawls didn't even exist when I came here!), I just wanted to learn the language and really experience life in Rome. I did- it was an amazing experience and after I graduated college, I decided to come back to Rome and "get it out of my system". And here I am, almost 12 years later... I admit I've been very lucky in Rome, I've had some great jobs, I've met amazing people, and I've made a lovely home for myself. But in the past few years, I've also realize that I don't feel as connected to Rome as I used to. I'm now weighing the pros and cons of staying or leaving.

It's interesting for me to meet people who've recently moved to Rome, I love picking their brains to find out what possessed them to do this. I personally don't think Rome still has that charm it used to have, but apparently newcomers have a different perception.
One of my friends moved here from the US at the age of 34, leaving behind a successful career and a six-figure salary. She came here looking for something more to life, hoping for a fresh, new start. She's been here for 4 years, struggling to make ends meet. And even though she has some complaints about Italy, it seems like she's here to stay. She says she likes the lifestyle, she has no desire to have a high-stress, high-salary job again. This reminds me of a fellow blogger I enjoy reading, who is moving to Italy in search of a new & better life. Different strokes for different folks! I guess it all depends what phase of life you are in and what your perception of Italy is.

4 comments:

Kataroma said...

Hi, Romerican. Thanks for linking to my blog post!

Anyway - sounds like your friend is one of those people who just loves italy but is realistic about it (#5 on my list). I have a friend here like that too. She's a really sensible person who knows all about the bad stuff here. But she just likes it here. Very hard to understand. :)

paolaccio said...

Romerican, I'll either trade with you or join you on the Leonardo Express, how's that!

Seeing is believing, I guess...

joe@italyville.com said...

it's mind boggling how young Italians can make ends meet.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

wow I am just seeing this now. Thanks for linking to my blog. I agree with you that the stage you are in life plays a big role.

I am a single woman over 35 working in an unstable field. When I lost my VP job (the company shut down) a couple years ago two weeks before Christmas with only 2 weeks severance pay after working 7 days a week for 3 years for under 100k ( my peers in similar jobs were making at least 150k) I was done.

For me moving to Rome was a better choice than waking up at 50 in Los Angeles, bitter and depressed. What am I saying? I was bitter and depressed when I left. ha.

Anyway, I don't know how my life will turn out here but so far it's much better. Now if only the movers would call me and tell me when my things are going to be moved from the warehouse to my house.