After 5 years in Spain, I was on the move again. Next up was Italy. My husband, the native son that he is, was ready to head back home. I leapt at the adventure.

See also: How to Get a Visa in Spain in 10 Steps for Americans

How did it feel to be leaving after all those years? Well, leaving Spain felt eerily the same as it did when I left New York years ago. And arriving in Italy felt just as similarly as when I made it to Spain. Scary. Unknown. Daunting.

And, at the same time, it feels downright weird.

The Strange Times of an American living in Spain and Italy

Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy

How weird, you ask? After reflecting on some of the downright bizarre things that have infiltrated my life between three countries, I narrowed down a few of the really weird ones. If you’re leaving America behind and moving to your next country (or two), prepare for some of these strange times!

See also: 6 Things That Will Annoy You About Your Future Italian Husband

1. Your conversations take a multilingual turn

Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy

My husband and I both speak three languages. THREE. A lot of people think that’s cool. It is. But maybe not so much when they all appear in one sentence. To the observer, our conversations make no sense. Our daily chats are, inherently, weird.

It makes even less sense when I naturally blurt out a foreign phrase to my mother on Skype. Sorry, mama.

Strange post-international move moment:

  • Me: “Uh, did you just speak Spanish to the waiter?”
  • Husband: “…oh…”

See also: How Not to Look Like a Tourist in Italy

2. You start to go native

Patriotism is a strange thing. Being patriotic for multiple countries is even weirder. After coming to Italy, I found myself feeling strangely prideful of both the United States AND Spain. In conversations about how things are done in Spain, I referred to things as “in Spain, we believe…” or “in Spain, we say…”.

Wait a second. What? I’m not Spanish!

Strange native moment:

  • Me: That’s how we usually do it in Spain.
  • Husband: Now, when you say “we”, you mean…Spanish people?

3. Watching the Olympics gets conflicting

Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy

During the last olympics, we, an American and an Italian, were living in Spain. That went about as well as expected.

Especially when it came down to USA vs Italy in men’s beach volleyball. shudders

Strange competitive moment:

  • Husband: It’s not fair! This is why we don’t invite you Americans to Eurovision, you know.

4. You forget that tipping is a thing

![Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy]

You’re back home in the US of A. You go out to lunch. You realize that the waiter is being a bit too friendly (by European standards). And then it hits you: ah yes, the tip. Tipping in Europe is generally nonexistent, apart from the odd spare change or €1 on occasion. Every time I go back to America, I feel like Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs all over again.

Strange restaurant moment:

  • Husband: But we won’t be back here for a year! They won’t remember if we don’t tip!
  • Me: YES THEY WILL.

5. You can’t watch your favorite TV shows till Monday

Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy

WINTER COMES ON MONDAYS IN EUROPE. I’m looking at you, social media spoiler offenders.

Weird moments where this is concerned include staying up till 4AM to watch the show immediately, or watching it first thing in the morning. And there’s something just plain bizarre about watching Rick Grimes fight zombies at 8AM.

Is wine acceptable that early if you’re watching a show?

Strange TV moment:

  • Me: “How are they gonna translate this Hodor revelation into Italian or Spanish?!”
  • Husband: gasps omg, I dunno

6. Monuments shmonuments

Expat Confessions: American Living in Spain and Italy

Nobody used to geek out about historical landmarks like I did when I was recently landed. Nobody.

Nowadays? We have Roman ruins 2 minutes from my house. And my house is older than the Declaration of Independence. Two facts I didn’t even think about until just now.

Strange tourist moment:

  • Husband: There’s a Roman bridge over there, I think.
  • Me: ¯_(ツ)_/¯

7. Borders blend together

After living abroad through multiple countries for a number of years, one thing becomes clear: across borders, languages, and cultures, we are all the same.

And when you think about it, that isn’t very strange at all.


#spotyourlife