THE ITALY EXPERIENCE: Canadian Expat vs. American Exchange Student

Happy Monday! I know I don’t usually post on Mondays, but today is a pretty notable exception. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on this collaboration with Jasmine, the Canadian expat blogger behind Questa Dolce Vita (which Italy Magazine named its best new blog of 2016!). She lives in Bergamo, in the northern region of Lombardy. I loved her site, and reached out to Jasmine to see if she would like to work on something together. Alas, read below what we have been working on:
Tell me about yourself: who you are, where you’re from, your experience in Italy, etc.
My name is Jasmine, I’m a born and raised Albertan (the second province from the West coast of Canada). I’m 29 years old and have been living and working in Italy since December 2014 after meeting my now-husband during his research exchange at the University of Alberta. I have a degree from the same university in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, but more notably, I studied Italian throughout my time in the Faculty of Pharmacy and am still actively studying it now. Currently I dabble in many areas including blogging, freelance writing and content creation for Italian-based companies. My day job, however, is as an ESL trainer and translator in an international Italian company where I help to improve my colleagues’ English and translate/localize content.
How did you learn about Day by Dom?
From randomly clicking links on the internet, I think perhaps he had posted a comment on a blog that I was reading which then led me to his!
Why did you start your site and what is it about?
I started Questa Dolce Vita in June of 2014, a few months before I was set to move to Italy permanently. I wanted to provide a way for my friends and family to keep in touch with me but I’ve also been passionate about writing so it was essentially killing two birds with one stone. The site is mainly focused on expat life and the many adventures and misadventures I’ve had in Italy, not only as a North American, but from a uniquely Canadian perspective and at times, from an even more unique Asian-American perspective. There are also many blogs that tend to sugarcoat expat life, I try to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
What is your background with the Italian language?

Oops, accidentally semi-answered this above. I started studying Italian almost nine years ago. It started with self-study, then with those “recreational” adult continuing education courses, and then finally in a more serious manner at the university level for four years. I’ve always been a fan of languages (being Canadian, we study French from elementary to high school, it’s obligatory) but never really got past an intermediate level with them. French never really interested me because it was forced on us. Instead during my bachelor’s degree, I took on Russian and really enjoyed it but gave it up in favor of Italian after my first trip to Italy when I couldn’t communicate with my future in-laws. I made up my mind right then and there that I would learn to speak Italian. Since then, I took one semester of Spanish as well but realized I was confusing the two so now I’m full-time focused on Italian!
How do you think your experience as an expat might be different from a student who studied abroad in Italy?
I think that Italy’s biggest hassles reveal themselves to you in time and that perhaps being a student, you might not come across as many as you would when you’re living long-term here. Things like applying for permessi over and over, getting them renewed each year, getting married, buying property, working in an Italian company, buying a car, driving etc. Even simple things like making local friends or starting a relationship with someone are all challenges that come up after time.
We both come from cold weather places. Do you enjoy the comparatively milder winters in Italy?

That’s a good question because everyone always comments on how I’m probably loving the mild winters BUT let me just say for once and for all, I wear the exact same down parka here in Italy that I wore in Canada! In many ways, I prefer Canadian winters because they are dry but there is beautiful snow and sunshine at the same time. Winters (where I am) can be very dreary, (perhaps could be compared to Seattle?), wet, and gray. The cold seeps into your bones here as opposed to back home.

Bergamo, Italy
What is the funniest experience you’ve had as an expat (related to the language barrier, cultural differences, etc):
The funniest (and most embarrassing) thing that has happened to me is when I first moved to Bergamo and didn’t know that you had to “hail” the buses (like a taxi in New York) and I stood at the bus stop for hours as one bus after another went by until finally another person came and I watched her stick her arm out and the bus stopped for her!
What is your advice to someone like me who has just recently started a travel or lifestyle blog? What do you attribute your success of Questa Dolce Vita to?
I feel like I’m not the person to ask this question to at all, but thank you, I’m very flattered! I think you should just try to be as authentic as possible and write about topics that really matter to you, don’t just “write for Google” as many bloggers do now. There are a million and one blog posts and articles about similar things, I think unique content has to count for something. Explore lots of avenues as well, such as having a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest…I know it’s overwhelming but if you pick one social network to focus on, you can get a lot of interaction on it and subsequent blog readers or vice versa.

Visit Jasmine’s blog Questa Dolce Vita to see what she asked me! In the meantime, follow her on her social media links:

Instagram, Facebook

Thanks Jasmine for this collaboration opportunity! It was so fun working on this project and I continue to look forward to reading Questa Dolce Vita in the future.

Comments

  1. Jasmine

    Yay I can leave a comment! Finally! Hahaha. Thanks for being awesome and proposing this collab, it’s been fun working with you and I’ll be following your travel adventures.

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  2. Diane

    Great interview!! I love Jasmine’s blog and had no idea she studied Russian. And love the hailing the bus story. Can totally relate to a lot of your experiences as an American in France. Nice to “meet” you, Dom!

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