Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Expat Women is Here!

When I first came to Italy, I was ALONE. I knew that if I had come with other English-speaking friends, I would never have the courage to get out there and learn Italian and really integrate into the local culture.

Great idea in theory, not so easy in practice. Those first six months were definitely sink-or-swim, and there were days where I really wished I had had someone who had "gone there before me" to share my woes and worries with, or just to get a little bit of reassurance that everything was normal and eventually things would work themselves out. It would have been helpful to have another woman who knew what I was going through, especially someone specifically from Rome who could give me some tips on the local culture, or how to navigate the Byzantine bureaucracy, and hopefully have a laugh over it.


Well, even though I wasn't fortunate enough to know any expat mentors and kind of learned by trial and error as I think many of my fellow expat women have done and do every day, today is the official launch date of Expat Women, a new website subtitled "Helping Women Living Overseas." Besides lots of information, stories, and resources, this website has a growing network of volunteer mentors: women from all walks of life who are living the overseas experience and are willing to share their knowledge and help via email with new women expats.

For example, women new to Europe can visit the site and go to the mentor page to find a mentor for their area or city. Since the site is new, the list of mentors is still growing. In fact, I'm the only mentor right now for Rome (and Italy in general)! You can become a mentor if you:
  1. have been living in your current location for more than 6 months;
  2. are a friendly, giving soul – willing to help and to answer all sorts of questions; and
  3. can make Expat Women emails a priority, endeavoring to answer all emails within 48 hours.
You can also register your blog for the Expat Women blog list (coming in mid-February) or write a book review on an expat-related book.

One great feature is that this site is for all English-speaking women around the world who have moved from their home country to a new country, not necessarily just Americans living overseas. This month's success story, in fact, is about Cornelia Zicu, who fled a refugee camp in Romania and now runs the Cornelia Day Resort in New York, a 22,000 square foot oasis on the top of Ferragamo's Fifth Avenue boutique!

Sending my biggest auguri to Andrea and Jill, founders of Expat Women (with 20 years of combined experience living overseas) on their launch, and if you have a moment, I encourage you to stop by and check out the site. It really is full of resources that I would have loved to have had when I first came to Italy, and like I mentioned above, it is not just for Europe but for expat women living all over the world.

14 comments:

Tracie B. said...

it's a great idea! i should be the mentor for napoli in the next round of updates...see ya there :)

Anonymous said...

Shelley,

You are such a great spokesperson! Thanks so much for the write-up, we could use all the help we can get right now.

Best wishes,

Andrea of ExpatWomen.com

Ash said...

Thanks for sharing. That resource looks wonderful. I'll spread the news on some of the Dutch expat sites.

Isma said...

Hello there !
I'm French and I'll be leaving Paris in 6 months to go and live in Rome (my husband is a diplomat) and I'm desperately looking for some future pals over there ;-)
I discovered your blog this afternoon and I've been browsing for ... hum ... a long time ;-)
I think I'll come back very often !
Isabelle

Delina said...

I just had a quick look and it looks like a great site. Having such a site or having a mentor must make things sooo much easier!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I will def. check it out.

Carole said...

Shelley,

You're a world of information and inspiration. I can't wait to meet you in person when I visit in May.

I very much relate to starting new in a new country and learning a new language. Although, I was a teenager, and the language was easier for me to learn than it was for my parents and sister who were much older, I had all the other emotional changes to deal with.

As I reflect on my life, I feel blessed to have lived in 2 countries & speak 2 languages or (3 if you count Spanish). Would I change anything?, Probably, not!

Best wishes,

Carole in Missouri



Carole (in Missouri)

Moon Martini said...

Shelley:

This comes as a great timing for me as I will be travelling to Italy alone in the spring. I'm a fairly confident traveller but I will be staying for a few months studying italian. Nice to know there is support and information.

Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Jessica Brogan said...

Shelley,
I meant to tell you this a long time ago, but i think that was during xmas, so i probably didn't. Congratulations! Yes, shipping the cards to america/kinkos was easier...no kidding :)Where are you going to have it?

My boyfriend and I are planning a tentative trip to Rome around Easter with another couple (she is half italian). I do hope we get there for oh so many reasons (mickeys, attempting yet againt to find the keyhole thru which you can see the vatican, blue ice, sunbathing on isola tiberina) and also, a chance to meet you if you're around!Matter of fact, can i come to you about staying in one of your properties if it's only a long weekend - or is that too short?

EnthusiasticallyHuman said...

i love this--what a fantastic idea. my husband and i are working towards moving abroad in a year or so--support is everything!

stacy said...

thanks for the post. that is great to know! looks like we will be moving to Italy this year so I cant wait to check it out.

FinnyKnits said...

Wicked fucking cool! What a great way to use the Internet to broaden horizons.

And, of course, any new Romana will be very lucky to have such a dedicated and knowledgeable mentor :)Almost makes me want to move overseas...

Libbycookie said...

What a great resource. And reading your blog certainly makes me want to become an expat - ASAP! xoxo

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