Summers in Italy to Volunteering in South America

Palak shares her expat life takeaways from her time spent in Italy and South America

Language can be a barrier, but everywhere I went people were so friendly. They would try and help out when they could and invite me to social gatherings with their local groups. I always felt welcomed.

Let’s start at the beginning: Where are you originally from? When did you move abroad and where did you move abroad to?

Toronto, Canada – lived in Sienna, Italy for a Summer and also in South America for a few months.

How were you able to migrate? (Job, Visa, Spouse, Family or another channel?)

School, and a temporary volunteer opportunity.

Why did you decide to move there?

I wanted to explore more of the world, learn about other cultures and how people live.

Was there anything about how people looked at work and careers overseas that surprised you?

Different cultures have different traditions and a way of doing things. For example, in South America during my time volunteering, things were so much more relaxed and slower paced than Toronto. People wanted to get to know me as a person outside of my career first vs. that being the focus. It was a pleasant surprise and really gave me a new outlook.

How is the social scene? What was your experience making friends?

Language can be a barrier, but everywhere I went people were so friendly. They would try and help out when they could and invite me to social gatherings with their local groups. I always felt welcomed.

Do you feel your race impacted your experience? If so, how?

I definitely think it played a role. In parts of Italy I was always asked where I was from, and many people assumed Southern Italy because of the colour of my skin. In south america, whichever country I would be in, they assumed I was from another country within SA (for example in Argentina, they would ask if I was from Brazil). I actually think that helped them feel more connected to me in a way.

What has been the most challenging thing about moving abroad?

Language barrier or not having the luxuries you’re used to at home that we sometimes take for granted – like clean accessible water everywhere, hot showers, clean streets, comfy beds, etc.

What has been the most rewarding?

The exposure to a completely different way of life. I loved discovering how the locals lived, what their lifestyles were like, their homes, their day to day. It was also incredible to just explore new cities and places (like what they did for fun or socially, and the natural beauty of each place).

Tips & Advice for the Her Expatise Community

What in your experience would you say is the minimum monthly cost of living? *

3000

Any advice on the visa/migrating process that could help someone else’s process go smoother? *

There are lots of options for people under 35 or 30 so look into what your country offers and specifically what agreements they might have abroad.

Any insider tips on a place you enjoy going to or an activity you enjoy doing? 

Visit Sienna, a small town in Italy. Grab a cheap bottle of wine (they’ll all be good), and some paninis to go from a local shop, and sit on the floor of the main piazza. It’s pure bliss!

Finally, If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice before you got on that plane to move abroad, what would it be? 

Go into it with a completely open mind so that you can soak up as much of this incredible new experience as possible!

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