Being an Expat in my own Country: What my Stay in Ultental Taught Me

thought-catalog-505eectW54k-unsplash

Dear friends,

here I am again. I missed updating in here for several months just like last year and for the exact same reasons. In 2018 I was leaving my natal region for few months, because I was done. This year I repeated the experience.

During the course of the time and, even here on the blog, I had the chance to get to know many expats or people who left the countries temporarily for the most different reasons: love, study, work, better living conditions. In my case what I was trying to do was retrieving and nurturing the almost insignificant part of the self-esteem I was left with. Years characterized by disappointment in the work department and struggles in my personal life had done a significant amount of damages, even though I’ve grown a thick skin over time.  It was the moment to turn the page and try something new to give myself an opportunity and start anew. We discussed many times about Italy being the ideal place for holidays and not so much in terms of everyday life, didn’t we?

Ultental wasn’t planned, though. The destination was not the one I had planned, but an opportunity came up in this valley of South Tyrol and I jumped in without too much thought.

I don’t know you, but for me the best experiences and the places that have literally changed my life have been the ones that have happened  to me by pure chance. Ultental is a good example and there’s just one other place that was such a turning point in my life: Ireland.

Glenveagh Park in Donegal, Ireland View of Ultental from St.Nikolaus

The Emerald Island of Ireland and the Greenest Valley in South Tyrol, Ultental

At first I couldn’t pinpoint the reasons why exactly these places have made such a significant impact in comparison with others, but then I’ve noticed a common pattern, that I’ll write down here through a list (mostly for my own benefit and for future reference):

  • They both represented a challenging “adventure” and a leap in the dark at first;
  • They both have an outstanding natural environment;
  • The colour green plays the role of the protagonist;
  • The welcoming and friendly people.

I must be honest: the impact of the human factor is the thing that surprised me the most about Ultental. As an Italian, I confess it, I was not expecting to be welcomed by the local community, giving the troubled history between the German-speaking community and the Italian one in South Tyrol. But I was wrong. The cultural differences are definitely there, but one must have an open mind and get rid of the judging attitude that many people, sadly, tend to have when coming into contact with other countries or communities.

The interesting thing is that, if at first you notice the differences between the two cultures, you later start to find the things they have in common. And I have actually found lots of them in Ultental. I could tell from the very first moment: I was witnessing to activities, seeing sceneries and smelling scents that reminded me of my childhood in a rural Veneto, which is no longer here. Such a weird experience for me, like going back in time and finding a part of my roots.

Another very peculiar aspect for me was having to face the expats’s problems and struggles (different language and customs) within my own country. How weird is that? I guess there are very few countries in the world that can offer you such an experience!

All of this, once again, reminded me of the variety of people and cultures present within a  country, which is much more than the Colusseum and an aperitif sipped at the shadow of a sun umbrella in the Amalfi coast. It’s a constant discovery even for me that I’m Italian and I’ve been living here since forever. The multitude of things to constantly learn and discover is what makes me love this country despite all the things that make me angry about it. I will continue to explore Italy and I hope you will stay with me in this journey.


For those who moved to Italy from abroad, how was adapting to a new language and culture? Did you find a common ground between the Italian culture and the set of rules, values and customs you grew up with? We always talk about the differences, but I would like to talk about the unifying elements for once!

6 thoughts on “Being an Expat in my own Country: What my Stay in Ultental Taught Me

  1. Ciao Sara, so good to see you back! I love hearing about your time in Ultental, and I’m so glad you were able to find a special place to renew your soul. I agree, nature & greenery is very calming & restorative. Sometimes it takes getting out of our usual environment to gain a new perspective. As a foreigner, I find the cultural & culinary diversity within Italy absolutely intriguing. I’d love to hear more about your time in Ireland as well! I’ve only been once, but the Irish people left such a good impression on me! They were so warm & friendly and full of life. I am looking forward to exploring more of Ireland & Italy of course! I’m also looking forward to more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ciao cara Kelly! Thanks, it’s good to be back on the blog!

      It’s sooo true, one must get out of the usual environment to acquire a new perspective, and establishing a contact with other cultures is vital, imo.

      Yeah, Irish people are amazing! Also, Irish and Italians usually get along very well, as the first are said to be “the Mediterranean people of Northern Europe”, lol. They are very open and welcoming, I love them!

      Thank you, I’ve collected a lot of material, I’m looking forward to elaborate all the stuff and write!

      Like

  2. Such a complicated question you pose. Differences aren’t bad and I usually welcome them. When one is flexible, he/she can “fit in” anywhere. To me, nationality doesn’t define personality. Yes, there are characteristics, but I’ve often felt more in sync with those I’ve met on my travels than with many people I’ve known at home.
    I think the concept of challenge is important. When I’ve taught, whether it be music or languages, I felt as though I wanted to just throw up the towel at parents who insisted that above all, their child should “have fun.” Yes, ideally everyone should enjoy himself on one level or another, but can we really have “fun” every moment of the day? And do we learn or grow when every moment is comfortable? Now, I’m not saying children shouldn’t have fun; however, I’ve found that learning, overcoming obstacles, climbing to the top of the mountain, mastering a verb form, experiencing a new culture, and things that take effort, ultimately are what’s rewarding and they’re what give us that “fun” feeling. So keep up the good “work”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, flexibility is vital! Also an inquisitive nature, I would say! That’s what has helped me to overcome certain “obstacles” due to the different language: if you really want to learn about the other culture and people, you find a way to fit in. And people always appreciate when “the foreigner” wants to know about their culture and integrates.

      So true, it happens to me all the time…finding like-minded people among “foreigners” and not in my neighbourhood, haha.

      I completely agree, in my opinion the human needs the challenge to obtain something and also to feel alive! But I also guess that many tend to see the challenge as something very stressful and become anxious. For me it’s the contrary: routine stresses me!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.