Friday, November 19, 2010

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Good friends and familiar traditions. Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, baby showers, bridal showers, birthday cakes, and Sunday brunch. We do get homesick sometimes and this is how we get through it.
Last time I was in the U.S I remember having a conversation with a friend of my brothers who had visited Italy and was interested in talking to me about the idea of immigrating to another country, the conversation lead to immigrants in the United States and how they all tend to group together with others form their home country and why that is.  She seemed almost offended by the fact that these immigrants don’t do more to integrate themselves with other Americans. Her opinion was that this is why they moved to the U.S in the first place was to become American and that they should really make more of an effort. This conversation really hit home for me as I began to understand for the first time that this must be how foreigners are viewed in every country in the world. I then proceeded to explain how the immigrant views the situation since I happen to understand it very well…
 Sometimes, I need to talk to someone sometimes who REALLY TRULY understands what I’m saying, and I’m not just talking language barriers and things being lost in translation.  I mean someone who really understands.  What it’s like to be homesick, what it was like growing up in the U.S, how it feels to be the foreigner, and why its so funny that I once said in a restaurant that the food here in Italy is so much better because there are no preservativi (which actually means condom in Italian) someone who has the same fears and reservations and finds the same joys and triumphs in living here. And probably most importantly understands what it means to have an Italian husband/boyfriend or date Italian men.  It is necessary for our survival, its not a conscience choice that we make to seek out only other American or natives English speaking friends, it just happens, we enjoy each others company are able to partake in easy conversations in which we can honestly express ourselves and vent all of our frustrations about Italian bureaucracy, healthcare and everything else that is different about living here. I have developed some of the greatest friendships in my life with other foreign woman here in Florence. We become each other’s family and surrogate sister’s (don’t worry Ali Cat you’ll always be my one and only) We look out for each other and make sure that we spend time together, its also a great excuse to go for an aperitivo once a week and we really look forward to that time. 
And on that note only one more week until Thanksgiving!! Yay! Oh and trust me, the Italian boys are NOT complaining about having to eat an American feast! In fact, one of the boyfriends is coming even though his significant other is in the U.S at the moment. Figuarati!

Its not as if we don’t want to have Italian friends, because many of us do, we just find a stronger connection to others who are like us, those that we have the most in common with.  Isn’t that the case with most relationships in life? And as well as one may speak a second language, it is still always just that, your second language and it is an effort.  It is those times that I spend with my girls that I can truly relax and enjoy the familiar and not worry about the cultural differences.

And while yes, sometimes those friends do decide to move back home, the true friendships always remain and continue to be as strong as they ever were
I also truly believe that there is a strength in female bonds and friendships that exists no matter where you live which I think is very difficult to explain in words, but for most women it is inherently understood, and I do believe that that bond is increased ten fold when one goes abroad.  As it turns out, there are not nearly as many American/Anglo men living here in Florence as there are women and there is certainly a connection that forms for that reason as well. 
So there you have it, to answer the question as to why we all tend to stick together, us stranieri, foreigners, immigrants in any country, I think the answer will always be the same…..

….Because it’s the bond, the bond, the bond, the bond that will bring us together…….da dada dad a, da dada da dada da…..
…..that’s what I always thought that song said anyway.


  1. I am so touched! :)
    I love you and am grateful for the bond that we formed from our time together in Florence!

  2. Thanks ladies. I wouldn't have anything to write about without you though!

  3. Love this post! And please, Ema would not miss Thanksgiving with you guys whether I am there or not! In the heart of his little Calabrian heart, there is a spot for turkey and brownies and a multitude of AMERICANATE! Miss you and the girls, can't wait to catch up!

  4. Michele we miss you too!!! Can't wait to see you in January! And don't worry we will make sure Ema eats really well on Thursday!


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