This month’s feature expat blogger lives in Italy via Denver, Colorado. Sophie Dingle’s blog is filled with beautiful snowy mountain ranges, European travel adventures and mouth watering Italian food. Read more about Sophie, her hockey playing husband and her life as an expat in gorgeous Italy below and then hop on over to her blog and say hello.
Tell us about…
…Your Host Country.
1) What brought you to your host country?
My husband and I first moved to Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2011 for his job – he’s a professional hockey player and signed with Cortina, a team in the Italian league. It was a big step for us, but we figured that it would be a great way to see a different part of the world and to do some traveling. We loved our first season there and returned for three more seasons afterwards.
2) What was your first impression of your host country?
I had been to Italy on vacation several times before moving there, but I found that life in Italy was very different than vacation in Italy. But I loved it from the start. The lifestyle was so different than what I was used to back in the US; it was a much slower pace, much more laid back. I loved long Sunday lunches and the tradition of aperitivo at the end of the day, when you meet friends for a drink. I loved shopping at different stores for different things – one store for the bread, one market for the fish, one for the vegetables, etc. There are a lot of stereotypes about Italy – not necessarily bad ones, but images that come to mind when you think of Italy: old men sitting outside of cafes, watching the world go by, grandmothers spending all day in the kitchen making homemade spaghetti, children kicking a soccer ball around in the town square. Personally I believe that Italy has become slightly more modern than we realize, but I love that these images still exist to some extent; it’s so refreshing to see people just being, rather than rushing around all day.
3) How has living abroad changed you?
I’m much more open to whatever comes my way now; I don’t have an idea of exactly how something should be. While living in Italy, we have tiny refrigerators, no drier and hot water that lasts for about four minutes in the shower. One year our kitchen was so small that we only had two burners (and no oven), which is what I cooked on for seven months. You really have to learn to adapt to your surroundings because if you don’t, you’ll be miserable. You can’t go in expecting anything. Living abroad has made me much more open minded. You learn to adapt and you realize what’s important, especially when you don’t have all the “luxuries” that you might be used to at home.
4) What is the most difficult thing about where you live?
The language. I took Italian lessons and can carry on a basic conversation, but I can’t speak in Italian at the level that I would like to. That makes it hard to have a real, meaningful conversation with an Italian. It can be frustrating to not be able to say exactly what you mean.
5) What is the most exciting thing about where you live?
Experiencing a different culture. Living somewhere is so different than going on vacation somewhere because you have more time to soak everything in. I love that I’ve picked up some Italian habits that I don’t let go of, even when we’re back in the US for the summer. For example, I line dry a lot of my laundry out in the sun because that’s what I’m used to now – although it is nice to have a drier available for rainy days! I also love that in Europe, you can drive or fly to a new place so easily – Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland – you can be in a new country in a few hours which is so exciting.
6) What do you miss the most about your passport country?
The variety – which is also something that overwhelms me when we’re back in the US – but it’s something that most Americans take for granted. Being able to go into the grocery store and buy anything you want, whether it’s a coconut or a jalapeno – that’s just not something you can do in Italy. Also having so many different types of cuisine – Japanese, French, Mexican, Chinese – you can get anything in the US, whereas in Italy, we are pretty much bound to Italian food – which of course, isn’t a bad thing at all!
We also obviously miss our families and friends. It can be hard being so far away and missing things like holidays, weddings and birthdays. Living abroad can come with a certain amount of guilt, at times. We’re lucky enough that we can be in the US for the summer but it’s still hard to see everyone since our families are spread out across the country.
7) Is there anything you’ve learned to do while living abroad that surprises you?
I’ve learned so much from living abroad but the biggest thing is how to adapt to your surroundings. I’ve become very open minded about the way that things are done in different countries. And I think I’ve become a better traveler, too.
8) Why did you start a blog?
I first started my blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friends while we were abroad. It was getting hard to write 10 different emails, all saying the same thing, so a blog seemed like a good way to go. Within a few years though, my readership had grown and now I have readers from all over the world which is great. There is a big community of expat bloggers in Italy and it’s fun to connect with them and share experiences.
9) What is your vision for your blog or what are you hoping to accomplish through it?
I hope to grow my readership even more in the next few years and to provide things like local recipes, travel advice and personal essays. My husband and I are going to be living in Scotland for the upcoming hockey season and while we’re sad to leave Italy, I’m looking forward to a change of pace and learning/writing about a new culture.
10) Share your 3 favorite posts.
- The answer we give when people ask us if we like living in Italy
- I did a series where I interviewed five other expats living in Italy, to find out about their experiences. I live in a small town where there aren’t a lot of other expats to talk to and this was a fun way to connect with people and learn about other perspectives (or to share the same one!). This is one of them, from Rome.
- People to share their favorite places to travel.
Now’s your turn to interview Sophie. What do you want to know? Also, follow along with her and her Italian Adventure below!