Friday, 15 June 2007

Making Friends

Having moved around the UK several times I have come to realise how important it is to make contacts and from that new friends, especially when you have no family nearby. Here it is doubly important as, not only do I have no family here, I don't, as yet, speak Italian very well.

When we arrived I joined a group of English speaking mums www.firenzemoms4moms.net. Every week we meet up with our kids for coffee and a natter. This has been a lifeline to me. From it I am starting to make some good friends. It is a diverse group from the US, Canada and the UK, some married to Italians, others here on secondment or contract for a few years. What we all share is the same language and kids! What is nice to discover is that sometimes we have more than just kids in common. Similar interests, backgrounds but also that it is good to talk!!!

So, tip for the day: Wherever you move to check out societies, organisations, clubs anything that gets you out and meeting people, irrespective of the language they speak! In Florence I am just lucky there are so many things catering for English speakers from the above group to the British Institute and its amazing library. If there hadn't been I would have found something else - a playgroup, book club, whatever - anything to make sure I was out and meeting people. It's the best cure for homesickness! And so far I haven't really had much apart from when we first arrived and that was largely due to the dark, gloomy apartment we were in.

7 comments:

Delina said...

Great tip. I had times at the beginning here when I had little to do and few friends. It was really hard. Keeping busy and meeting people is definitely the key!

Alyson said...

Thank you! If I hadn't been so lonely just moving in my own country I don't think it would have occurred to me to do this when it is twice as important because of the language barrier.

Jessica said...

Hey you are lucky have that group. I am in a strange grey area here in Rome, I'm married but don't have kids. And even though I am married I am rather young (compared to Italian couples I know)at 23. Most of the org's here are on the mature side, like couples in their 40's. I wish there was a hot young married girls group! haha maybe I should work on that. Great blog btw! I will def be back!

Alyson said...

Thanks, Jessica! Glad you like it!

Have you tried the US church in Rome? It may have some kind of group.

Caroline in Rome said...

I am the worst playgroup mother. I call myself the playgroup dropout and avoid playgroups like the plague unless they are in a park so that I can easily avoid all discussion and food and beveridge handouts that I don't care for.

First of all, my daughter has never interacted well in closed areas with plastic toys and kids that she has to step on to get anywhere. Secondly, inevitably, I clash with one or more of the other moms re junk food being distributed (crackers and cookies are the worst) or juice being handed out (we do water) that my daughter wants because the other kids get it or . Then I have to witness all kinds of horrifying childcare practices that I really object to, without saying a word of course, such as keeping a screaming 18-month old in "stroller prison" because the mother can't be bothered to let him out to explore a bit while the older one is playing ("too dangerous around the older kids and I don't want to watch over him"). And then there are the tedious discussions about why so-and-so's child is getting up 5 times a night or the latest marketing gadget that one absolutely must buy for one's child or the child will not develop properly.

Sorry for the vent but I consider the whole thing absolute torture. There is a large English playgroup that meets in the basement of a church in Rome and I was horrified when I arrived to find dirty toys strewn on the floor, potato chips for the snack and for the singing time, we had to sing the welcome song 25 times (once for each child) to the tune of Frere Jacques. Things got so loud and chaotic and overstimulating that my daughter asked to leave early (thank god).

Alyson said...

Ha, Caroline, believe me having done the playgroup thing with both my kids, and once in the UK I can go along with some of what you say. However, I think meeting people you don't agree with or like is good for both you and your kids! It's what life is partly about. Plus by ignoring these places you miss the chance of meeting someone you really do get on with - you only need one good friend! School is a much bigger version and unfortunately your kids have to go unless you want to homeschool, but even then you have to socialise at some point.

Caroline in Rome said...

I already complain about snacks given to the Bambina in the school courtyard by other well-meaning (or just plain thoughtless and ignorant) parents and nannies. And don't get me started on birthday parties.