The first time I really felt at home in Cittadella was not when I moved into our new appartment or when we went sightseeing in Veneto or when I started to work for a couple of hours a week. The first time I truly felt at home was when someone I had met only a couple of days before in our local bookshop, recognised me walking through the city centre and greeted me with a smile and a “ciao”. It was also the first time that someone in the supermarket pointed out that I always came in here and if it was perhaps a good idea to get a shopping card in order to get some discounts. In addition to all of this, I went for a coffee with an Italian friend that I had met here, in Veneto.

Of course I wanted to feel home here as soon as possible and especially in the beginning I really tried hard. I started looking for a job (giving myself no time to relax), I started to discover Cittadella and Vicenza (often on my own) and I tried to be busy, constantly, in order not to have to think about the fact that it did not feel like home at all, and that – even though I loved Italy – I was having a hard time adjusting.

This is, however, perfectly normal, because I learned that I’m not the only one with this particular issue. It takes months, sometimes even a year or more, to get comfortable in a new country. So, if it’s not working out for you, don’t worry, don’t panic. It just takes time. I’m already four months on my way and I still sometimes feel as if I don’t belong. However, that feeling is slowly diminishing, becoming less and less.

Gathering people around you that support you, that understand you, or that at least try to understand you can actually help a lot. I was fortunate to meet people who happened to be (or had been) in a similar situation and that really makes you feel less lonely. But the most important thing is that you give yourself time. Even if you used to be someone who is always surrounded by friends and family and you’ve heard that Italy is a very social country, don’t expect to be encircled by replacements within a month. First of all, family and friends cannot really be replaced. Second of all, nobody knows your qualities yet. Not only do you need time, but also the people around you.

(A typical social activity in Italy, and a way to make friends, is drinking coffee together.)

In short, don’t try too hard to feel at home. It will happen.

From Italy with love,

Merel