Moving to Italy for a year with 4 kids: First Week

So one of the first questions many people asked me was “how much stuff did you bring?”

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5 suitcases and a few carry-ons. 10 months. 6 people.

The amount of luggage was limited by the fact that we flew into Paris, rented a car, and took a 7-day road-trip to Siena, which didn’t leave a lot of room for “extras”.

Now that we’ve been here a week I can pretty safely say we did pretty good. We have a lot less JUNK than we have at home, but everyone’s pretty happy. We did bring a few iPads with board games to play as a family (since we obviously couldn’t bring our the 100+ games we have in the states), and everyone brought a couple of personal items, but really we don’t need much.

The apartment is well-furnished, and the things we’ve found that we need we probably couldn’t have predicted:

  • Swim Caps – We brought goggles, but you also need a swim cap to go into the Siena community pool. Couldn’t have guessed that.
  • Food Processor – There’s one at the house, but it’s 1/3rd of the size as the one at home… we’ll need a bigger one.
  • Trash Bins – We have a couple of trash cans, but want more for people’s work desks.
  • Paper and Pens – Probably should have brought more pens, but we got a big package for computer printer paper for the kids and they’re tearing right though it (sometimes literally).
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Ian’s room is already much messier than this.
Living Room
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The lock is a bit hard to turn….

We’re starting to find our way around town. We have data plans for our phones so we can get on the internet (and even phone numbers for local calls in case we need them… I can’t see using them for much). We’ve spent lots of time dealing with paperwork (12 miles of walking and over 10 offices, some multiple times). We had ice cream every night that Gram was here, and are starting to cut back now… We cooked food in our own kitchen (which we also did at AirBnBs, but it’s nice to be in our own place). We’ve visited some parks and playgrounds and wandered the city and taken lots of pictures.

The kids have had bouts of homesickness.

  • Charlie was really homesick the second day in Paris, so we let her watch some of her favorite shows on Netflix (which worked in France but doesn’t work in Italy apparently) and she did FaceTime/GoogleHangout call with her friend Willa which REALLY helped.
  • When we got to the apartment both Christine and Charlie felt a big relief, Max on the other hand started to get a little homesick and worried then. He was wondering what school will be like, etc. Another FaceTime call, this time with Reid helped a lot.
  • Ian and Tristan have been like a pinball machines and while they haven’t said “homesick” they definitely just want to huddle in their beds/rooms and control their space.

Max and Christine and I got back into Duolingo. One thing I’ve noticed is people in Siena have a LOT less patience with people that don’t speak Italian than any other experiences I’ve had in Europe.

Ian has made some drawings and sold them in the little Café below our apartment (he made 3€). We also asked if we knew someone who could spend some time with her son and another 13-year-old friend so they can practice conversational English… so Max might have a job. :)

We still don’t have a school for Tristan figured out, but we’re meeting with people Sunday and Monday to try to work it out. Everyone else has a spot reserved (unfortunately, there wasn’t room for Charlie and Ian on the same block as Max, so they’re at different schools).

It was SUPER helpful to have my mom with us… as well as fun. There were two mornings where we had to do paperwork and it was great to *not* have to drag Tristan with us (the others can stay home alone for a few hours… but Tristan’s only 4).

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Gram at the Dumo.

What would I do differently?

So far not much (other than approached the visas differently, but that’s the subject of another post).

I guess one thing is I would have scheduled us to arrive CLOSER to the start of school. We got here 9 days before school started for the kids and thought the acclimation would be good, but the reality is they don’t get out much and are getting a little stir crazy, and between all the errands and paperwork and such Christine and I don’t have a lot of energy to force them all outside time and time again. Max has also mentioned it’s a little stressful not knowing about school and all.

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