L and I have gone out for dinner last week and may go out again this week. It seems nothing to talk about, but for us is still a great achievement and it requires a big effort (financial, if we have to pay a babysitter beside the dinner; physical, after a day at work; and planning, if a friend can look after Pallino and we need to find the right day and time to allow for her commitments as well).
We’ve never been party people, we’d rather go to the theatre/cinema/concerts from time to time, but I do miss it.
Anyway, the dinner was for the birthday of a Italian friend who lives just down the road. It was seven of us, all Italian. I didn’t think there were many Italian families around here, and to be honest I have made any effort to find them, but lately I happen to be getting to know lots of Italian people.
I have never made any effort to find them because Italians abroad tend to be (with exceptions, I’m talking about the average behaviour I observed in these past ten years) too critical of anything that is not done “like in Italy”. Everything is constantly compared to the Italian way and judged wrong if it’s not the same. And I don’t want to spend my time complaining about the place where I live and work (and now raise my child!). I think that we all have the same issues everywhere and ask similar questions, and different countries give somehow different answers, but they are equally valid, once you understand their point of view. If something appears wrong to you, maybe you should try and understand their point of view better, before judging.
So I tend to keep a distance from the expat community.
However I admit that I do find it easier to connect with Italians. A common language brings lots of things with it, common jokes, common references to the history, our families habits, the TV programmes we watched as children… it just takes less time and effort to create the connection and get to know each other. So I’ll take this opportunity to meet new people, and hopefully make new friends.