So I’ve taken a few weeks off for the holidays; spending quality time with friends and family, celebrating 30 — count ’em 30 – years of marriage to the man responsible for dragging me to this side of the ocean — THANK YOU HONEY! He teases me because he says I think we’re on vacation here when, in reality, we are ex-patting it!
Anyway, I am really enjoying our time here. Both in Europe and in the U.S., people always ask me where life is better. It’s funny because I used to always say flat out, “Life is definitely better in the U.S.!” and in many ways it is. The US offers convenience and choice. Not to mention real working online interfaces (in Italy they are beautiful but hopelessly wonky) and even though we may not believe it, customer service actually works (if you have 2 hours) whereas in Italy they talk in circles and have no solutions. Also, I believe that some remnant of the American Dream still exists where, if you work hard enough you can get ahead without having connections. On the down side, the barrage of consumerism is out of control. On our last trip over Thanksgiving, there was a nationwide panic that somehow, the number of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas was insufficient to do all the shopping that needed to get done. I also ventured into a super-market and remember being gob-smacked that there is an entire aisle dedicated to sliced bread. AN ENTIRE AISLE…and the same goes for cereal — how did I ever get any shopping done?
On the flip side, I often find a dire lack of ethnic foods in Italy and so I have found myself learning how to make my own Teriyaki or Duck sauce or buttermilk or mint jelly. In fact, our U.S. habit of ordering Chinese delivery on a Friday night to relax has evolved into an episode of Top Chef, with me trying to make spare ribs or 10 ingredient fried rice and hoping to collapse onto the couch in front of the TV with a cold beer without falling asleep before the end of my Netflix movie…let’s just say I’m watching The Irishman as a miniseries….
Life in Italy is pretty sweet. Trieste is a great city to live in, it’s cosmopolitan but still a small enough town to make it enjoyable. It is considered the “furthest city” in Italy but it is definitely not isolated, and as the gateway to “mittle-europe” it we’ve been able to drive to Zagreb, Graz, Prague, Budapest and Vienna and, in the time it used to take me to fly from NY to FL, I can travel to Istanbul! Then there’s the national health system, which guys, I’m telling you, is a GREAT thing: no going broke to buy medicine or risking homelessness due to a catastrophic illness. I had a 3 day hospital stay with anaesthesia and when I asked for the bill they were like, “nope, you’re done!”
In the end, both countries offer lots of pros and cons, and I can honestly say that I feel fortunate to be able to live with one foot in each.
This year, 2020 is going to be big for Trieste and I hope you’ll hang around to find out what’s in store!