Italy – The First Month

It has been a little over a month since Vicenza became home to the Dinkler family.  Vicenza is a 3rd century B.C. thriving, cosmopolitan city with a rich history and culture, and many museums, art galleries, piazzas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. I still can’t believe we live in Italy.

For those of you wondering how the move is going, we are staying at the Inn on post (the Army calls it post, the Navy, base), which has its benefits as we go through all the in-processing procedures in order to live life in Italy. Benefits: a stone’s throw from Josh’s office, a soccer field out back for Cayden to practice his moves, and no cooking or cleaning required!  We found an apartment and move in date is scheduled for November 1st. It is taking time to grow accustomed to the idea of city living in an apartment but for these first years we want to live downtown, close to the action, walking distance to shops, cafes, festivals, and gelaterias. The train station is a stone’s throw away for easy weekend trips, and there are multiple parks close-by.

It all sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? There have definitely been moments, but moving to another country is intense! Cayden and Anya started school today – Italian school. Some teachers speak a little English, but most do not. This will be a stretch for all of us, but in the long run, we believe the kids will benefit from this choice: language and cultural immersion, social continuity (friends at the military DOD school come and go every one to three years- this will afford them lasting friendships with kids living here longer term), cultural immersion and a rich Italian experience for our family as a whole. I took them to school this morning and we felt as fish out of water – but we held our heads high, smiles, and said Ciao! Cayden’s teacher, a kind Italian nun speaks no English, Anya’s, a little. There are a few other American children in their classes.

We had the benefit in Bahrain of most people speaking English – not so here. However, as challenging as it is, I prefer it. I had thought when we moved to Bahrain I would be forced to access from the recesses of my mind the Arabic I learned as a child. Other than some bargaining here and there, reading signs, practicing with my dad, and buying dough (aajeen) from the local bakery, the cobwebs remained. So the language learning has begun. The kids had three weeks with an Italian tutor prior to school starting and I will dedicate a couple hours daily to the language.

Here is a recap of what we love so far:

–       The food. Mama mia! One of my friends in Bahrain told me I will have to learn to love carbs, and I can say I haven’t ordered this much pasta before in my life!

–       The wine – cheap and tasty.

–       The weekend outings to nearby villages (we can actually drive somewhere!) Our favorite so far: Sirmione, Lake Garda and Asiago, an hour drive into the mountains with outstanding views and ski towns that look like Austria.

–       Our new Fiat, a perfect little European car for zipping and parking around the city.

–       The Italian people, who have been friendly, helpful and welcoming.

 What I miss:

–       Friends, of course. Moving means leaving friends who have become family while living overseas.

–       My dad – having him near was a gift I shall always cherish.

–       Feeling “at home” with the Middle Eastern culture and its people. I miss my Arab friends, their generosity and their perspective on life. I miss the “exotic-ness” and surprises each day presented to me.

–       The ease and safety of life – those who have lived there know what I mean. For those whose only gauge is the media, this will be hard for you to understand.

–       The turquoise ocean waters and beautiful pool out our back door, and happy hours on the beach.

–       The diverse expat community – Bahrain is in every sense of the word a beautiful melting pot.

One month, but it feels like five. Some days great, some painfully challenging, but all in all, we are happy to be in Italy and for the adventures that await us here.

A domani!

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