As an Afghan, I guess it’s pretty normal that moving to Rome has meant to embrace a whole new lifestyle and that almost everything I do here is unusual to me. While Europeans or Americans would have an easier go in adjusting to life in Italy, I’m sure other Afghans or Asian in general will totally hear me, so keep on reading as I’m about to give you some useful tips on how to adjust to life in Italy.
We were still on the airplane when I realized how beautiful Rome was. Its night view was gorgeous and made me long to see its daily counterpart.
As my wife likes to rant about the lack of organization in Italy, as soon as we landed we had our first experience. Truth be said though, this time it wasn’t really Italians’ fault. After the passport control, we headed to the baggage claim just to find out that our luggage was still in Istanbul because they had forgot to transfer it to our plane. This turned out to be a bit of an unpleasant mishap as even though the lady behind the Lost Luggage desk told us we would have had our suitcases shipped on the next day, we received only after three days, which left me pretty much without clothes to wear.
Being Italy, I was in no panic, since already from the day after we had the excuse to go shopping, but without further ado, here are my “first aid” tips for whoever is thinking about moving to Rome from a very different country and background.
Eating your way around the Italian capital
Starting with the way I eat, in Afghanistan not only we have different dishes but also different eating manners. Namely, I usually use my hands or spoon and fork, while here pretty much everything (except soups!) is eaten using fork and knife, which I find it a bit hard.
For example, on my very first night, when we sat around the table for dinner, my father in law (a complete gentleman and great cook) brought a lentil soup and a salad and while I like to eat both of them with spoon, I saw that the rest of the family preferred to use the fork for the salad.
Thankfully, no one really cares how you eat.
Moreover, when in Italy, be ready to be offered a glass of wine any time you visit someone’s house just like we, in Afghanistan, offer tea when guests come to our home.
Adopting the Italian dress code
This requires no sacrifice at all.
Pretty much like for the eating manners, no one cares how you dress either, and this, for someone like me who’s coming from a country where everyone seems interested to see how much of your skin you manage to cover, turned out to be pretty relaxing.
As a matter of fact, if you are moving to Rome or even only visiting Italy, I recommend you save your money and do your shopping here in Rome as they have good brands, fair prices and elegant styles. There are many places to do your shopping although if you want to go somewhere to both enjoy some old Roman vestiges and do shopping, do pop in Via Del Corso. Here you will be amazed by everything you see, from street artists to live music and dance to great clothing stores.
Registering your presence with the local police
Depending on your visa and nationality, you will have to register your presence on Italian soil with the local police within the first 8 days of your arrival. You will know about this before arriving as there is a footnote on the same application form. Usually you will need to do that if you are staying at friends’ or family’s, while if you are at hotels’, they will take care of it for you.
In case you need to do it by yourself, you can check out this link to find the address of the police station of your area.
Mornings are for the elder
A bit of explanation is needed here. The first mornings I was in Rome, I couldn’t resist but pointing out the lack of youth I was seeing on the streets, blaming the economic recession for making parents decide not to have children. As I was noticing mainly elders walking their cute little dogs, my wife explained to me that minors are not supposed to hang out in the streets in the morning, as their place is in school.
Fair enough, in Italy people definitely breed less than in Afghanistan, and kids have mandatory class every morning.
It was only around lunch time, after school, that I had the chance to see spoiled teenagers shouting at each other while waiting for the train to go home. There, I understood what my wife meant by referring to them as spoiled kids. They were all aged between 15 and 18 and were smoking cigarettes, cursing each other and shouting. They had no respect for anyone. It wasn’t just one or two, almost all of them were behaving like that. Coming from Afghanistan, a country that has been at war for 40 years and really can’t afford much frills and extravagance, it was the first time I had seen such a spoiled young generation.
The public transport doesn’t live up to the expectations
One of the things you have to know when moving to Rome is that the public transport works mainly in the city center but it’s pretty unreliable as soon as you get further to the suburbs or beyond the “walls”, as Romans say referring to the historical districts.
We live close to the outskirts and it’s not uncommon to wait for some 40/50 minutes for the bus. Or just to give up and change means of transportation. If you are just going out for fun, no much harm, but when you have office times and appointments, this can mean troubles. When we were going to register my presence to the local police station, in fact, after waiting for almost an hour we gave up waiting for the bus and headed to train station to continue the rest of the journey.
It did strike me though, that a young guy (definitely NOT a homeless) carrying a bag full of bottles of alcohol got on our same crowded bus. Although stinking as if he had been drinking his whole life and hadn’t taken a shower for weeks, no one said a word to him while sitting in the middle of the bus, he turned on the music in his smartphone on high volume without the earphones. He had so little balance that when the bus braked suddenly in the middle of traffic he almost rolled down on the floor but the other passengers kept ignoring him and his behavior to avoid nasty confrontation.
For sure, more reliable than the buses are the trains, fast and comfortable.
Anyway, since the taxi is way too expensive to make it your daily transportation service, unless you have a car, you have no other option than relying on the public transport. The ticket is €1.50 for 100 minutes and it’s valid for one metro ride, one urban train ride and as many bus rides within 100 minutes of the first validation.
If you are staying for a long time or actually moving to Rome, I suggest you by the monthly ticket as it’s only 35€ and you can take anything from metro to train to tram to buses, saving you a lot of money.
When moving to Rome, learn some Italian
Either if you are on holiday or especially if you are moving to Rome, I suggest you learn some Italian phrases. I’m lucky my wife speaks Italian, because not everyone here speaks English, especially in non-tourist areas. Obviously if you are here short-term you won’t be able to do a course, so learn some common words and sentences before coming, while if you are about to start your life in Italy, I do recommend you sign up for a course so you are able to live without the need of a translator and even take an Italian driving licence.