In the grand scheme of things, moving to another country in this day and age just isn’t as difficult as it was 20 or even 10 years ago. There are more resources for potential expats in the form of books and magazines, but even more than that I think the internet has fundamentally changed the expat experience.
For instance, during my six-week trip to Italy in the Spring, I spoke to family back home using Skype. When I talked with other Skype users, it was 100% free. And when I used it to call their regular telephones, it was only 2¢ per minute. My mother said the connection was better on Skype than it was when I called her from home using my cell phone, and the whole experience made the distance feel not so great. I know other expats who use Skype to talk to people in the U.S. regularly, easily and cheaply (if not free).
Additionally, there are lots of online communities and forums where expats from specific countries or just expats in general can exchange information and tips. After all, there’s no one better to learn from than those who have gone before – but unless you live in a community where there are lots of former expats, it has been hard to connect with them. The internet has made it downright simple to do that now.
Beyond those online forums, I’ve found lots of expats in Italy who are active bloggers, many of whom I’ve reached out to and consequently become good friends with. I really do believe that people who choose to uproot and move to another country are a certain breed of personality, and one of the characteristics of this breed is an honesty and openness, and a desire to help other people. The expats I’ve spoken with have been, almost to a person, really interested in passing on the information they’ve learned from experience.
While the internet is critical to my life in general – it’s how I make my living, after all – I firmly believe it’s going to be even more like lifeblood once I’m actually living in Italy.
Photo by: Tirza van Dijk