Before you get the wrong idea, I'd like to caveat this by saying I love living in Italy. Hands down, this has been the easiest move, and I'm already dreading the day, two years and eleven months from now, when we'll be forced to leave.
When my husband started his job, I attended a spouse's orientation, where a number of presenters gave advice on medical evacuation, financial planning, and even the logistics of divorce. Of the many topics covered, one had been the 4 stages of culture shock.
At week six, I'm well past my honeymoon stage, the end of which was marked by my choice to paint pillars at home instead of exploring the city. I should be experiencing the plunge to frustration and hostility right about now. But since this stint in Rome came after a year in Karachi and two in Abu Dhabi, I'd characterize my current mood as a slight slump, marked by mild lethargy and occasional crankiness. Before I start on the upward slope toward assimilation, it seemed appropriate to list the things an Americana (female American) might miss in Rome:
1. Seedless Grapes: The grapes here taste better than the ones in the States by several orders of magnitude (I am not exaggerating, I swear). Nonetheless, cracking open a bitter seed mid-chew has become an occasional source of irritation.
2. Insinkerator/Disposal: To be fair, few places outside the US have in-sink disposal units. Old cities have it worse since the plumbing and sewage systems aren't equipped to handle chopped up organic refuse. I've gotten the hang of straining out tea leaves and dumping them in the trash, but I do miss being able to rinse out my pot and getting rid of the waste with the push of a button.
3. Weekend Store Hours: Last Saturday, my husband and I traipsed over to the ferramenta (hardware store) at around 4 in hopes of buying an extension cord. As we half-expected, it was closed. An Italian lady in a very chic skirt-suit (they dress nice around here) had gotten there before us. She stared at the locked door, threw up her hands, and stomped her 4-inch stiletto. "È Sabato, tutto è morto! "(It's Saturday, everyone/thing is dead!)–her words, not mine. Believe it or not, outside the touristy areas, weekends in Rome, especially during August, remind me of scenes from the The Walking Dead.
4. Demineralized Water: Every tourist who's read about Rome knows how lovely the water is. We've been advised to carry around bottles, which we can refill at the various nasoni scattered all over the city. There's even an iPhone app to help you find these watering holes. Here's the thing–the water here might be delicious, but the calcium content is so high all the supermarkets sell additives to "decalcify" your lavastoviglie (dishwasher) and lavatrice (laundry machine). Unless all stainless steel surfaces are wiped dry, white streaks form, which requires yet another type of cleaner. You even need special water to spritz over your clothes while ironing!
5. 4G/LTE Networks: Theoretically, phone carriers here offer 4G, but I've yet to set foot in the mythical locations where such speeds exist. For the most part, I get 3G, which at times dwindles to Edge (even downtown). Internet speeds are also affected by the number of people using it. My data works fine at 7AM, but not so much at 7PM.
Thus ends my list of little gripes, which I'm sure I'll get over within the next few weeks. If any other expat is reading this, drop me comment and let me know what you miss about home.