Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 2)

This is the second post in the series, Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop, including:
Part 1 and Part 3.

Our original plan had been to settle in France — not Italy.

I found an Intensive ESL Teaching Certificate Program in Strasbourg (yes, it’s France), and while I studied how to be a better English teacher, Jason flew to Italy to urge along his family’s application for citizenship.

For our first month in Europe we were living apart, like this. On either side of the Alps. And it seemed like we might be able to make this work: me working in France, Jason eventually coming north once he wrapped up his citizenship paperwork in Italia.

But plans are meant to be altered.

A old building in Strasbourg (France)
A old building in Strasbourg (France)

I quickly discovered that, as an American,  getting a full-time teaching job in Europe was nearly impossible. And obtaining any kind of legal residency in France would be a student-visa-obtaining, flight-hoping, logistical nightmare. Meanwhile, J learned that he had to live on Italian soil and hire a lawyer to help with the legal paperwork if he wanted to push his family’s citizenship application along.

Our options were more limited than we had realized.

On a trip with J’s parents in Italy’s Puglia region (the heel of the boot), we were forced to come up with a new plan, and fast. We could:

  1. go back to the US — which was akin to admitting defeat
  2. search for other teaching jobs for me, but internationally (primarily involving Middle-Eastern positions requiring a hijab, or Southeast Asian positions requiring a mosquito net), or…
  3. move to Italy — an option for us only because of J’s heritage
Ostuni, "The White City" (Puglia)
Ostuni, “The White City” (Puglia)

Traveling around Puglia mysterious cave towns and white, hill-top cities for ten days, I just sort of started nodding my head one day, “Let’s give Italy a try.” I must have been under a spell, because — looking back — that decision seems insane. At the time, I spoke no more Italian than “ciao” and “caffè.”

J, however, never needed any convincing. With his Italian relatives, foodie sensibilities, and general disinterest in mainstream American culture (other than a good hamburger and Seahawks football), he was born ready to return to the motherland.

Of course, in trying to iron out the details of where we’d live, we butted heads while in Puglia  (I think we actually made a scene outside a fish restaurant in Galipoli). But this was our lives we’re talking about, and in trying to agree on it, we were for a brief moment like two cats in a cardboard box. It wasn’t easy. 

J driving the car in Puglia
J driving the car in Puglia
Leaving Puglia and her olive trees behind (Puglia, Italy)
Leaving Puglia and her olive trees behind (Italy)

Dramatics aside, once we packed our rental car and said goodbye to J’s parents in Puglia, we rode north on the highway and along a strident sense of adventure, simultaneously terrified and thrilled. A nine hour car ride to Trentino.

To what felt like another world….

Don’t miss the final installment of Seattle To Italy In One Not-So-Fell Swoop (Part 3), where you learn how we ended up landing in a small northern valley filled with apples, and where many people don’t speak Italian.

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