Over the past year, I have been lucky to become part of a new community – the expat community. If you don’t know what an expat is, it’s essentially someone who lives outside of their home country. I’m from the US but I live in Italy, therefore I am an expat. It has been an amazing experience to get to know so many people from various walks of life and I honestly have become quite intrigued by it (see Ten Things I’ve Learned While Living in Sicily).
Through my new-found relationships, I have learned that the views and experiences of expats vary quite widely and I am fascinated by the differences and intricacies of adapting faced by others. Thus, I dreamed up an interview series where I ask the same questions to a variety of expats I’ve met personally or through social media to get a broader perspective on expat life. I’ve also thrown in a couple questions about travel and photography (if that’s their thaaang), since this is a travel and photography blog! I hope you’ll join me in the coming weeks as I welcome a variety of featured expat guests to share a little peek into their lives with me.
I’m SUPER excited to welcome my first guest blogger, Courtney, of Little Brave Travels. I met Courtney around a year ago on Instagram and have really enjoyed following her journey. She also lives in Italy (but much farther north), and it’s been refreshing to connect with her on that aspect. It wasn’t until a little bit later that I realized she has a fabulous accent that I hadn’t really heard much of before (hear it here and get a good laugh [at her video, not her accent]). Check out her story below and see where she’s from!
Where are you originally from?
I was born in South Africa but raised in Botswana and Namibia.
Where do you currently live and what led you to move there?
I live in a small city very close to Milan called Pavia. I moved here 3 years ago to support my husband while he studies. (Luckily, he’s finished now! haha)
Was this a temporary or permanent move for you?
It’s a semi- permanent move. As we don’t know exactly where we will have to move once Angelo gets into his specialization course. We will definitely stay in Europe for the long run though!
What are some of the differences you see between where you live now and where you’re originally from?
Oh wow, this is a tough question. There are just So many! Firstly, public transport is amazing! I had never ridden a bus before moving to Italy. Safety is a big plus too, being free enough to walk around on the streets is incredible. I do miss the African people though, there is something so welcoming and homely about being in Africa. You have to experience it to understand.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles that you have had to overcome after relocating?
The language barrier was a crazy thing to overcome at first! I’ve gotten the hang of it now, and I can handle myself in a conversation. The second biggest thing was probably the overly loud and assertive culture. South Africans are generally reserved and not very emotional people, so you could say Italy has been one big culture shock!
What do you love about where you currently live?
I absolutely love the cobblestone streets, and also how small Pavia is. It’s close to Milan, so it’s easy to travel, but it doesn’t have the big city vibe.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned from living abroad?
To always remember that you need to push yourself. Get outside your comfort zone and grow. That means making mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them, learn and try again! Also don’t forget to be assertive.
What would be the number one thing to see or do that you would recommend to someone visiting that they would not be able to read about in a guide book?
In Pavia I would say that you HAVE to walk everywhere, there is almost no need for a car, the city is small enough to cover the big points on foot. Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the vibe. Also, the vineyards of Olt’re Po Pavese and an agri tourismo for lunch! Nonna will make you something amazing!
Where is your favorite “instagrammable” spot(s) where you live?
There are so many! The Ponte Coperto, and the Universities. The Duomo is incredible too, otherwise just all the cute little streets!
Outside of where you live now, what’s been your most memorable travel destination? Why?
Definitely Botswana, to me it’s home, and there is nothing more incredible than being in Nature. Sardegna was also an Incredible experience, I basically grew gills I was in the ocean for so long.
How often do you travel outside of where you live?
We travel outside of Europe at least twice a year. Otherwise its mostly around Europe or Italy, which we do monthly.
What do you love most about travel?
I love getting to experience different cultures, and of course meeting new people. I love to imagine life in these places, and how different people live.
Tell me more about your website/blog.
It started out as a way of me keeping my family up to date with all of our travels and it grew as a creative outlet for me. My little spot on the internet has become mostly about showing the people of the world that there is life outside of your comfort zone. There are incredible experiences and places to visit, if you only venture out a little. Sometimes that’s just to the end of your street, and that’s okay, but be uncomfortable, be brave, and grow.