Moving to Italy-Part 1 A new Expat Journey

We have been in Italy a little over a week now and its been slightly rough. Transitioning pretty much into a new life, a new school, a new job, a new country, heck even a new language isn’t easy. Having done this twice before (not counting the other two times we moved back to America as well) I kind of thought this would be easier. Turns out… it isn’t. You really can’t prepare yourself for the emotions you feel. Nothing is easy when you jump out of your comfort zone. But you know what they say, nothing easy is worth doing…


Many of you don’t even know how we got to Italy. Where did this come from? Didn’t they just move back to America for good? Yep, that’s what we thought too. Let me tell you the back story:


We left Kuwait last April after over 3 years. We were hoping to have stayed longer but the contract for Boeing employees was ending and everyone was on the journey to find new jobs. We could have stayed but it would have meant a change in the job structure and it just wasn’t for us. We hated leaving but once the bug was in us to go back to America I was ready. My husband got a job in Jacksonville working for the Navy on the P-8 (that’s an airplane… trust me I never get used to all the numbers and letters stuck together #military)


We lived an hour away in Flagler Beach, first with his mom and then after totally renovating a small condo, we ended up living in that. I couldn’t complain, though we had 4 of us in a small one-bedroom apartment. Living near the beach and the bus stop made it less annoying. I loved it there. We knew our lives really couldn’t continue on that path, Hank wasn’t in to driving 70 miles each way to work. We applied for countless jobs and finally some surprises were in store. He got a job in Guam. The job was for 6 months- 1 year. He would go over, leave us behind and go make some money. Its not uncommon in our circle of friends to do this. We started preparing for him to leave but honestly after long conversations we were nervous. Going with him just wasn’t an option especially with North Korea and all the threats. Guam is a tiny little island with nowhere to run and we couldn’t imagine taking our kids there in the thick of political fire. Also, Guam is very expensive to live in being so far away from the U.S so it just didn’t make sense.

Later on, a new opportunity presented itself: Italy.

I hated the idea of Guam not only because he would have to leave, but also I wanted to partake in the adventure too! We always do it all together and it was a bit sad to not see him for three months at a time. We sat down, hours of conversation, compared this to that and ultimately decided on Italy for at least a year. So now, here we are about a month and a half later!


The move:


The moving and getting ready is always the same for each international assignment. Passport updates, packing, repacking, counting bags, movement of shipment, health certifications, applications for residency, selling our stuff, selling our cars, and pretty much being stressed out the entire time. Sometimes the adventure part feels more adventurous after the fact. We also went to Charleston ( to our other house) 3 weekends just to get it ready for the renting season. In one weekend with the help of my Mother-in-law she helped hank with the new wall we FINALLY put it after one year of sitting with concrete blocks everywhere!

sleeping babies

charleston wall

It also didn’t help matters when I bashed our gorgeous Tundra into the side of a concrete wall. Considering everything going on, its no wonder it only happened once. In my defense, I have a pretty clean driving record. I only hit immoveable objects every 10 yrs. I’m still upset that I did it, I wasn’t thinking clearly and frankly not paying attention to the side of the car which I KNEW was close to the concrete wall. (parking garages for trucks: no Bueno.) My husband got it fixed and not without a huge dip into our pockets. Its things like that that make life more difficult.


We spent about a month in a hotel which was daunting even though it was nice. We moved rooms about 4 times so that was super fun ( insert sarcasm here)

Moving again…

The homesickness kind of starts before you even leave. New bed every night, barely seeing the family, and running around until nightfall everyday. I think the saddest part was Cruze having to leave his school and his wonderful teacher who really helped him accomplish so much during his first school year. I cried heavy tears as I wrote her an email about us leaving.

Last day of his school.

My friends and family definitely new the drill and pretty much have accepted I’m going to miss every wedding, birth, and funeral. That’s a really crappy part to always being away. But they love and support us more that I can imagine.


The Trip:


We left from Orlando and our flight was supposed to go to Toronto, to Rome, to Catania. Not so much…

We have flown so much and other than one disaster while flying solo with the kids ( Mother of Dragons Blog) , we have been pretty lucky to never lose anything or miss a flight. And then God said, NOT THIS TIME, Collins Family!

collins family abroad
Beginning of our trip before it went downhill.
caffeine and cake pop stop. It took us about 1 hour just to check in with all our stuff.

In Orlando, I left the kids iphone at security. Luckily they called my Dad and sent it to him. Then our flight was delayed an hour.

In Toronto, we ran like the wind, with two kids, 6 carryons to the otherside of the airport. Missed our longest flight. Then we had to stay in a hotel ( a pretty terrible one) and we wait for our new rebooked flight now with an extra destination.

north face
We had to pick up our bags in Toronto after missing our flight and transfer to the air Canada desk. One guy came up to me super excited, and said ” ARE YOU SPONSERED BY NORTH FACE?” I hated breaking his heart. #representnorthface #canyouforrealsponsorus?

The next day, we had issues getting checked in. (We ALWAYS get the brand new lady at the desk who doesn’t know what to do when we walk up) Then cruze left his carryon randomly in the airport, luckily I found it.

In Montreal, the flight crew didn’t put our stroller on the plane. So we had to endure two more flights with no stroller. Luckily our kids are pretty badass. I was exhausted from all the bags though.

In Rome, we tried to locate our stroller with no help.

In Catania, we forgot our phone charger in our bags that were already in route with the bus driver so I had to run the length of the airport to buy a 20 euro iphone charger when we brought 4 with us. We needed it for GPS to the hotel because of course, both of our phones were dead.

The  hotel was pretty crappy with a massive amount of mosquitos that attacked our kids day and night. We eventually got moved to the beautiful Casa La Carrubazza that we are currently residing in now.



Its been a tough last two weeks, learning to adjust, starting the house hunt, and trying to learn just enough Italian to get us through. Just wait to you see how we’ve been avoiding eating out.


Tune in for Italy Part 2, coming soon…

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