by Melinda Gallo

Third expat article in The Florentine

My third expat article just appeared in The Florentine's 100th edition. I am so happy to be a part of our highly revered, local English-speaking paper. I know that the paper finds its way into many people's hands: expats, tourists, and people who have fallen in love with the city. I read it to keep abreast with what is going on in Florence, and am able to learn a lot as well. The expat interviews that I write are a joy to me because I'm able to talk with other people who now call Florence their home. In my series, I choose to focus on the path each person has taken to get here and what they now do in Florence.

I would hate to think that because I don't mention every disappointment, frustrating moment, heartbreak, or challenge that arises that each of these people are living a charmed life without their own personal challenges. As a woman who has lived in three countries outside of my native country, I believe that difficulties arise. And many are accentuated in another country due to the cultural differences, lack of familial support, and obvious language barriers. And needless to say whenever you rebuild your life no matter where you go, it can be challenging.

But as anyone who has lived a few years on the planet knows, life is always filled with hiccups and obstacles. Sometimes we look at another person's path and think that they didn't have it so bad, but we would be mistaken to believe that to be true. We can never truly know what is inside another person's heart and what pain they hold deep within.

I make a concerted effort not to wear my disgrazie (misfortunes) on my sleeve as badges of honor as if I deserve more happiness and joy than the next person. I feel we are all handed what we need in this life to grow and to evolve into the person we were born to become. Unfortunately some of the difficulties thrown our way are extremely trying at times, and instead of confronting them we'd all like to wave a white flag.

I have tried to learn as much as I can and grow from every experience I've had to face in my life. Some were so awful that I didn't think I'd ever make it through, but somewhere deep inside of us is a startling force that appears right before we give up. We pull this strength out from the depths of our heart and soul and forge ahead in spite of everything.

I have been honored to interview many expats who live in Florence, and have been impressed with their stories. It gives me hope to see that people are willing to put everything on the line, walk away from many comforts in life, and choose to follow their hearts. They have all jumped through many hoops to create new lives for themselves here, and I choose to celebrate their successes and write about them instead of focusing on the trying moments that each one inevitably faced.

What has humbled me the most is how appreciative they are of their lives and where they are at this point in their lives. Their struggles have given them strength to persevere and not only to survive life in Florence, but to thrive here. Through these expats, I now have proof that the old adage "If there is a will, there is a way" lives on.

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