direct from sicily
(return to Sicily)
Jonathan Blosser. In Italy for 11 years, I work as a maintenance schedule manager for an Italian multiservice firm (government contractor).
I was born abroad to American parents in the United Arab Emirates. For the first five years of my life I was exposed to several cultures and languages which, I'm sure, formed much of my personality and predisposed me to learning languages. I went to kindergarten in a British school and then we moved back to the US in July of 1976.
Currently living in:
Sicily (Province of Catania)
By way of:
South Central Pennsylvania
How (or why) did you get here from there?
I completed a 5-year obligation to the US Navy at Naval Air Station Sigonella. I fell in love immediately (with Sicily), but it took another year for me to meet and fall in love with a Sicilian. After our wedding we moved to PA, but my wife didn't seem to like snowy winters and the fact that an ocean lay between us and her mom, dad, 5 brothers and 2 sisters, so we packed up and came back after only 9 months.
What role did language skills play in your experience?
It was absolutely indispensable. My first day in Sicily I remember thinking to myself "There is no way I'm going to live here for 3 years without speaking the language!" From there, I dove head first into the language and culture. I knew that I would never understand the culture fully without knowing the language , but I also discovered that the opposite is true. Unless you understand the culture, your ability to speak the language will always be limited to a scholastic level and never "ring true" to the locals. You'll be able to communicate, but you'll always feel like the odd one out when you don't understand the humor in a joke or when you miss the subtle nuance of a double entendre.
Your biggest challenge:
Employment, but I never let it stop me. My "cumpari" (the best man at my wedding) still tells people about how I came back from the States and was already working the next day. I was only making about $600.00 a month, but somehow I was making it work. I worked under the table for at least 5 different employers making more or less the same wage for about 5 years until I finally landed my current job through a recommendation by a friend, but in the meantime I took advantage of my language and people skills and spent all of my free time trying to turn a buck. I would broker automobile sales between Italians and US Service members and at one point I even had a pretty decent business going procuring car parts for US spec vehicles (until my stateside supplier liquidated his store!).
What do you still have to get used to/learn?
My identity crisis. The cross I bear is that I adapted impeccably. Because I blend in too well, sometimes I feel obliged to bring up the fact that I'm not from here and that invariably leads to a complicated explanation about who I am and where I came from. As a result, I find myself constantly arguing with Italians who won't believe that I'm American.
In the bureaucratic phase of opening a business. "We need document X, Y and Z, but they can't be obtained unless you do Q, R and S first which have to be processed simultaneously with U, V and W. Of course, I'm so overworked and still can't make ends meet at home, so if you could contribute to my kids' college fund I think I can guarantee you that X, Y and Z will be approved when you submit them."
A preconceived notion about Italians/Italy that is not true:
All Italian men cheat on their women. Of course, most of them talk about it and a strong majority say they do, but for the most part they aren't willing to risk the one woman in the world who actually puts up with them in exchange for a few fleeting moments of carnal pleasure and almost none of them can afford to actually keep a mistress!
A preconceived notion about Italians/Italy that is true:
It's not what you know - it's who you know.
How would you respond to someone asking you, "I really want to live here, but I don't speak Italian or have a job. What do you think?"
Stay at home and be content to fantasize about how romantic your life would be in Italy. I've seen too many people come over here with stars in their eyes only to get back on an airplane, burst balloon in tow, before the first year is up. If you don't speak the language, at least come armed with a job or a reason to be here, i.e., school or spouse.
How would you sum up your Italian experience in a word (and why)?
Home. I love the town where I grew up and it's a thrill for me every time I have the opportunity to go back, but my life is most definitely here and I can't see myself living anywhere else.
Each month Zoomata.com introduces you to someone who has made the dream of picking up and moving to the Bel Paese a reality.
In their own words they share the good parts, the bad parts and the just plain absurd moments of day-to-day life in Italy.