Ep.1 Transcript

Ep.1: Kristy Goes to Italy!

 

Jenny: Today I'm here with Kristy Wilcox! Now full disclosure Kristy's also my big sister, but she has some really great Go Find Out moments, the one we'll focus on today will be her experience living and working in Europe. So welcome to the show Kristy!

 

Kristy:

Hi, thanks for having me.

 

Jenny

Yeah! Obviously, I know you, but my listeners don't, so can you actually tell me just a little bit about yourself.

 

Kristy

Sure. Um, so obviously I’m a big sister and I worked for the military for several years. I’m a horse owner, cat owner, married, and lived in lots of different places all over the US and then also like I said in Europe. 

 

Jenny: 

And now what do you do for your work?

 

Kristy:

So right now I work in Outdoor Recreation for the Army. And in the past I've also worked for the Navy in Outdoor Recreation and then I have also worked in Recreation Therapy. And that was mostly at psychiatric facilities for children and adolescents. 

 

Jenny:

So now, a lot of people say that they, you know, really want to live abroad or live in Europe and work in Europe, and now you've actually done it! So can you tell us, first of all, where you ended up?

 

Kristy:

Sure! So I ended up in Sicily, Italy, which honestly when I was going to go there I had to look it up I was like I feel like I know where Sicily is but I had to go look at the map and make sure, if you look at the map, you see the boot of Italy and it's the “soccer ball” that they say that the boot is kicking. So it's the little island at the end at the toe of the boot of Italy.

 

Jenny:

Gotcha. And did you always want to live abroad?

 

Kristy:

I think, growing up as both of us did as military brats and moving around all the time. I just, I really wanted to live overseas. And then in college, I did a study abroad in Germany and I loved it. I mean it was hard but it was... it was such a good experience, because we wanted to do that again but full time because I was only there for about four months. So I, yeah, it was something I always wanted to do. Actually that's one of the reasons I started working for the Army was because I wanted to go live overseas and I knew that could be a good opportunity to do that. 

 

Jenny:

Okay, so kind of backing up. You didn't just move abroad and move to Italy just for fun. You went for a position, right? And so, were you specifically focused just on going to Italy or like, obviously you applied for a job in Italy, but did you apply for jobs in other locations as well?

 

Kristy:

Yes, absolutely. I applied for multiple jobs. If you've ever worked for the military or are thinking about working for the military or as a federal employee at all. You really have to put out multiple applications. You have to keep trying, because it might not happen. The first time, I can't even tell you how many jobs I applied for. Probably over 30 in that, you know, maybe two to three years while I was looking. And it didn't happen the first time and honestly I really wanted to go to Germany. That’s where I wanted to go.

 

Jenny: 

Because you'd been there before, right? 

 

Kristy:

Yeah, exactly. And I spoke the language. Well, poorly, but you know I think I had it. Yeah. Italy was kind of completely out of the blue. It was not anything that I expected. Of course I put in for it because I was putting in for everything and it was for the Navy, and I had been working (as a civilian) for the army, so it was a complete change. 

 

Jenny:

Yeah, so then okay, so you apply and you apply for several places, and then you hear back for the job in Italy... so what was that like kind of finding out that you were honestly even first going to interview for the job?

 

Kristy:

Scary - exciting - but a lot of scariness. A lot of fear. Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is really happening. Even just getting the interview first of all was very exciting. And I like to prepare for my interviews and in this particular case I didn't have that opportunity because of the time change and they had a little bit of trouble getting a hold of me. They'd spelled my email wrong. They were, like, in a huge hurry to do the interview so when I got the call that I was going to get the interview. They said, “Could you do the interview in 10 minutes?” You know, I wanted to say no but what are you going to do? You have to say yes. So yes, of course I can! 

And then I spent 10 minutes googling madly:  Where am I going? What base is this? What was this job again? I applied for 30 jobs. Oh my god. I dunno.

 So I did a little bit of research and then, I like to have my questions ahead of time. So I started furiously like, oh God, what are  my questions gonna be? And so I tried to get all that stuff together in those 10 minutes and be ready and be calm, which was tough. So it was very stressful a little bit. Anxiety, there's a lot of anxiety, during that interview, I believe.

 

Jenny:

I believe it! I mean not only having the 10 minutes of prep... I mean it's good that they gave you that 10 minutes instead of saying let's just do it now, but wow. Yeah, that would be very stressful. So you interview. Obviously, it went well. And then they offer you the job. So what was that like what? How did that go?

 

Kristy:

I mean, so exciting. I couldn't believe it. I'm married, so I knew at the time that I needed a little bit of time to think about it so I could discuss it with my husband because even when I was done with the interview, he was like, okay, fine you interviewed, that doesn't mean we're taking it. And I was like, sure. And then I got offered the position, and I, you know, I asked for a few days. I think they gave me the weekend. I can't remember now... so we actually did a road trip up to see his family and I remember that the whole, like, six hour car drive was just us talking about what if we did this. But what if we didn't do it. We basically went through our pros and cons list in the car for six hours with me trying to convince him that this is a good idea because, although I like to move, and as a military brat I've moved a lot and I enjoy change, my husband does not. So that's a little bit difficult to get him to come around, but it happened yeah, it took a while but it did happen so that was good.

 

Jenny:

Okay, so you guys had talked it over a lot to make sure it was going to be the right move for you guys, right?

 

Kristy: 

Yes.

 

Jenny:

Did you ever have anybody...so I'm sure you told people, “Oh my gosh, I'm going to Italy.” Right? “I'm so excited.” But did you ever have anybody who were kind of like naysayers or negative nancies when you told them that you were going to go?

 

Kristy:

Yeah. I don't think people necessarily meant it to be that way, but there definitely were people who were negative about it and maybe in a caring way like, “Have you thought about this? But what about this? But what about these things? What about these seven things?” And I was like, yeah, well, I have to work those things out. So yeah. I think the hardest part was when they're telling you all these things to be worried about. I had to just tell myself:  I'm already worried about those things so I'm going to make my list and I'm going to get things together and I will handle whatever those issues are. Those 10 things that you just told me to be worried about and now you add an 11th that I hadn't thought about, like, okay, good well, so I just tried to take it and be like, okay thank you for your concern. I appreciate that. I will take it into consideration and I really did. But, like, gosh, you added an extra worry that I didn't have before. Good thing you told me now so I didn't have to find out when I already moved. You know, so I kind of turned it into a positive in a way. I really wanted to go, and I wanted to make it happen and it's so easy to say no. And I just really wanted to be able to look back and say I tried that even if it didn't work. Even if we hated it. Even if it was horrible. I wanted to say that I did it.

 

Jenny:

Did you find that once you guys got over there that some of those naysayers were maybe more positive about it then?

 

Kristy:

Yeah, I do think that actually. It's kind of funny, because I really think people think it's so glamorous, even now, you know, and I'm like, oh yeah when I lived in Italy... And people are like, “What? Omygod, you lived in Italy?” 

I’m like, “Yes?” And it does sound so glamorous and amazing, but when you're living and working there it's not like a vacation all the time. I had visited Italy before, only on vacation, and it's a whole different mindset than when you work every day. You know, I gotta drive in the traffic. I gotta go to work. You know, I gotta go in on weekends. But it was just a different world. But I do think some of those naysayers were like, gosh it's so amazing. And especially when I came back, some of those same people were like, “I wish I would have done that. What a cool thing. I wish I could do what you did. You're so brave.” And you know, things like that so you know maybe they just were scared, and imagining themselves in that situation and then trying to, … because I did it. They were like, Oh my god, you could do something like that. That's amazing so yeah I do think that kind of turned them around a little bit,

 

Jenny:

And did any of them ever come over and see you?

 

Kristy:

Definitely. I had several visitors. Yes. Actually, my husband’s family, they came for 17 days. 

 

Jenny: 

Oh my gosh. 

 

Kristy: 

Yeah, it was great actually but there were nine of them. And luckily enough I worked at Outdoor Recreation and Information Tickets and Travel, so my job was to take people on tours, all around the island and all over Europe. So I was able to set up trips and tours just for them and we went and toured all over. So I made a very big effort to make sure that they were taken care of during the 17 days from my in-laws and his aunts and uncles, but it was actually nice. 

 

Jenny:

So, you said it wasn't glamorous, but that sounds pretty glamorous.

 

Kristy:

You know, it is when you're the one going on the big... so it was glamorous for them because they were on vacation. For me, I was the one who had to set up the truck, set up the this, get the gas, do the map, make the time to set up all the tickets. You know what I mean? Like I did all the grunt work so they didn't have to worry about it.

 

Jenny:

Gotcha. So you handled all the logistics for them.

 

Kristy:

Yes absolutely. 

 

Jenny: 

And all the translating.

 

Kristy: 

Yes, correct. Although, when they came, my Italian was not so great. They came in February and we moved there in September, so I, you know, I’d been there a few months but it was pretty abysmal. I mean I did my best, but I got laughed at like literally every day by Italians. How terrible my pronunciation was. How American I was. You know? But what are you going to do? You've got to keep trying.

 

Jenny:

Yeah  So would you say, like when you first got there obviously, you didn't really know that much Italian. And you kind of learned it as you went. What was it like when you guys very first got there, and you were still learning the language? Did you guys go out all the time? So you could learn the language and immerse yourself in it?

 

Kristy:

I mean, I would say it was very scary at first, and my husband and I have actually talked about this and then some of the people that we lived with. We were in a hotel with a bunch of other Americans that also were working at the base, and they put you up in this hotel for the first few months. So, we would all kind of talk about this but it was very scary. Especially the first... even the first two to three weeks, I would say, I was still very... I'm pretty outgoing, typically, but I was very withdrawn and nervous because, like you said I didn't really speak the language. I had no prior Italian until I got this job and I started listening to literally language CDs (this was before podcasts, of course), but that's all I had. So when I got there and then I tried I was so proud of myself I would like, try to say something and then the first time I got laughed at was probably like the very first day in the airport and all. I tried so hard. You know, and I think you just kind of have to get over that. It sucked. But, you know, basically my husband was like, if you don't start speaking, you're never gonna speak. And I was like, why don’t you do it?  And he's like, no no you do it. We were both scared. I mean, it was very scary. I remember it was, like, stupid things. Like you asked if we went out. No, we did not. We stayed in our little hotel. We cooked at home. We spoke with the Americans because it was easy because we can speak English and it was simple and you don't have to think. Because even just going out for a sandwich was like a big deal. I remember the first weekend we were there and we're like oh my god we have to, like, go get food. This is gonna be a whole thing. Oh No. And I had to get  my phrases together like okay, how do I ask for this and it was just very nerve racking and it was like that all the time. Eventually, I think that level of adrenaline kind of comes down and just learn to go with it. But yeah immersing yourself is tough. If anybody's going to do that. It is hard, but it is worth it.

 

Jenny:

It's definitely different than being on vacation there because, I feel like when people go on vacation, they sort of have a plan right, in general, and if even if they don't have a plan, they're kind of like “I'm on vacation. I'm going to go do things.” And so it's very different to live there.

 

Kristy:

I would say. It's funny because my friend and I, she also worked there on the base. An American Girl and we talked about that all the time. How our friends at home were like, “Oh my God! That sounds so amazing. You went to Romania for the weekend and, and then you just flew out to Malta.”  And we're like, yeah I mean in that part,  it was pretty amazing. But then on Monday I had to get up and go to work, you know, and I had to work my full shift and I had to be the go-between between the American military system, which is very specific and they have certain way of doing things, and the Italian system which is not quite as specific or as strict. You know the military, it's like, get there 15 minutes early, or you're late, you know. And the Italians are like, “Eh, we’ll do it tomorrow. Don't worry.” They're thing is dupa domani. Tomorrow. The day after tomorrow. Don't worry. So, yeah, it was definitely not as glamorous as you think. Because it's just like working and living here. I mean your life here is, I guess it's as glamorous as you can make it. But then in some ways, yeah like on my way home, I might stop and get a bottle of wine for two euros and it was good wine you know? Or get a sandwich and say it in Italian or try a Sicilian word you know. So I mean some of that stuff, I think, is what you make it. A lot of it, it really is because I wanted it to work, I wanted to have this experience. I chose to go there. And so I was like, we're gonna make this happen and it's going to be the best we can make it.

 

Jenny:

So what would you say that your biggest adjustment was while living there? And it could be work or it could be just every day, you know, living. But what was the biggest adjustment would you say?

 

Kristy:

I don't know. That's a hard answer because everything was such a big adjustment. I mean, even just the way of life is so different there, and some of that is really good and I think was really good for me. The Italians have just a different view of life. They're very focused on their family and focused on their time and how important their time is. Whereas Americans in general, and this is very general, tend to be very work focused. And I especially was very work focused, so I spent a lot of time in the office. And I even remember my Italian employee, because I had Italian staff and American staff that worked for me, and they would yell at me. I mean, you know, Kristen, what are you doing? Like, it's lunchtime. And I was like well I gotta send these other 10 emails you know. I gotta get this done. And they're like, No. You have to eat lunch, so that you can have a life. And I'm like, Oh, yeah, I guess, I guess I could eat lunch and emails will be there. You know, I just think they just have this different way of looking at things. So adjusting to a different lifestyle was tough. Sometimes it was maddening, and sometimes it was great. I'll give you an example of maddening was trying to go to the post office, and their different way of doing things. It is not...very timely. So, you know, it might take you literally four visits to mail one letter. I mean it can be maddening, and that's the non-glamorous part that you don't see unless you're living somewhere. Or just like the, you know, the sidewalks are cracked and broken and you can't really run. I remember trying to go for a run and I was like, it's like I'm running on a trail This is crazy and it's the sidewalks. So things like that were maddening but then on the other hand, it was amazing. You know I could take off for lunch, and we would have wine with lunch. I mean that's crazy. You know, but it was normal there. Che Normale, they would say.  Just that way of life and that Italian lifestyle was a big adjustment but one that was good for me.

 

Jenny:

I definitely remember when you were living over there, you mentioning, at least once, maybe several times, that when you would go to like, get gas, sometimes it would be when everything was shut down and all the Italians knew things were going to shut down at a certain time of the day but maybe the Americans didn't necessarily know because it's just not something we do here. We don't just shut down stores and stuff in the middle of the day. So I just remember, just that you were kind of frustrated by that. 

 

Kristy:

Yeah, it can be really hard to deal with. Especially like in daily tasks like, I just want to go to the grocery store and pick up something to make for dinner and the stores are closed because it's 4pm, and they are closed. And I’m like, “It’s 4pm! Why is the grocery store closed?” Or exactly like you just said, gas. They actually specifically advised us to keep our tanks at half full at all times because in this particular area in Sicily. And anytime the gas stations could just close, whenever they wanted. And sometimes it was because they just ran out of gas. So that happened a lot. And sometimes it was just because they wanted to have a brea in the afternoon and have you know some espresso. So you ever knew what the reason was. So yes it was definitely... there were some maddening times. Yes, that's for sure.

 

Jenny:

And it kind of sounds, to continue to enjoy living there, you kind of had to just embrace these differences especially like the cultural differences, even though they were frustrating at times. 

 

Kristy:

Yeah, I really think you do because I'll tell you, with my job, what I did was take the sailors and their spouses and their families around on trips and tours right, but I saw a lot of spouses of sailors who really did not want to be here. And, unfortunately, you know, they don't have the same choice I did as a civilian employee. And they were spouses of military employees so the military doesn't typically get to choose where they go. They're typically told where they're going to go. And unfortunately, I saw a lot of people who were unhappy. And some of these maddening things which are maddening I mean, my gosh, it's so annoying you go to a gas station, and it's closed, you go to another one it's closed. You don't know when it's closed. You're like, argh. So, you know, that's why you gotta have half a tank at all times. So, right, if you let that stuff get to you, which it definitely did get to a lot of people, you start to hate it. I mean even… I lived in Hawaii for four months and I heard the same thing from a lot of people saying, “Get me off this rock. I hate this place.” I'm like, but we're in Hawaii! But again, it's because you're not on vacation. You're having your real life and those things that don't annoy you on vacation, like whatever, I'll get to it later who cares. In real life, (those things) annoy you. You know. 

So, I think I had to make a decision because I saw so many people with that negative attitude, I did not want to have that. I really wanted to enjoy myself. No matter how annoying stuff was. I just, you know, I wanted to enjoy it. And I made that choice and part of that was talking to my husband about that. Listen we are going to make this the best we can. So let's go travel. When we get annoyed, let's go visit another country that is stricter on things. Like Germany, who has their opening hours and they keep them. So let’s go do that. Or has the road rules that they actually abide by, like let's go check that out. So, I think that helped and just being conscious of that fact that... even when I was going to go there I, you know, in my head, I mean all I could think about was the glamour. You know, I'm gonna drink wine and eat bread and cheese all day long. And you know even me going there, that's kind of what you think and then you get there and you're like, Oh, well that's not like that at all. I have to work every day. I have a job. I just had to consciously think to myself, well this is going to be a positive experience. You chose to come here, so whenever I would get down or get annoyed, I'm like remember how you chose to come here, take advantage of it. Let's make it the best we can. so when that person laughs at you for pronouncing it wrong just laugh with him. And you know, ask them how to pronounce it, right, because you know what, what am I gonna do? I mean, literally one of my guys, this is kind of funny, one of my staff, I can't remember what I said now, but he laughed so hard. He put his head down on the desk, he was crying. Whatever I said just tickled him but it was, it was probably my first month there, so it was a little bit hurtful.  I was so scared but then the other staff were like, you're doing fine. You just happened to catch him, and he just thought it was funny, you know. And he was kind of a jokester anyways but I always say, you just have to be positive in that situation and it's not always easy sometimes. I had bad days, of course, and my husband and I both were like yeah sometimes it was hard. You know the post office thing. That really got him. that made him crazy. Four days to send one letter. It made him bonkers. 

 

Jenny:

I definitely remember a conversation after that...

 

Kristy: 

Yes yeah. Now you know, it's hilarious because we're out of it. So I think you just kind of have to see the humor in some of it and step back a little bit and tell yourself that I'm gonna get through this. So, you know, maybe in a week, it'll be funny. Maybe it'll take a year for it to be funny, but it probably will be funny eventually.

 

Jenny:

If you were gonna do it all over again, what do you think that you would do differently? Or is there anything that you would do differently?

 

Kristy:

I don't know. That's kind of a hard question because I think I learned so much from the experience. I mean I think there are some things with my housing or my car. Things like that that maybe I would have done differently but those are just small factors. Just because I know a little bit more about the process with the military moving and all that stuff but no. I mean, I still think I would do it. I mean, I definitely would do it again if I could. I loved it. I still think it was a good experience. And I think you kind of have to learn some other things. You have to have the bumps and bruises in order to come out on the other side. You just have to go through those hard experiences and that's just part of life and so yeah I don't really think I would change that much. I would take a little more Italian before I went maybe

 

Jenny:

I was just gonna say, I wonder if that would honestly help, and maybe even maybe make you a little more comfortable.

 

Kristy:

Yes, especially like going out. Make you feel less timid about going out and like trying the language. Especially if before, you went maybe you could, you know, have found somebody who teaches lessons so that you're practicing. Yeah, that probably. I definitely would have if I was, let's say, going to go overseas again. Yeah I might try that. Practice with a real person and take some lessons.

 

Jenny:

So, for any listeners out there who want to follow a job overseas. What would you say is the biggest piece of advice that you would want to give them?

 

Kristy:

I say: Just do it. And if you get the opportunity, do it. It's such an amazing opportunity. There's always going to be some reason that you shouldn't. There's always going to be something. I mean, for example, I had two horses that lived at my house. I had a house, you know, a mortgage. How was I gonna make this happen? I had two cats. What was I gonna do? You know? I had all these things that were, like, easy to say, “Well I can't leave that. I can't do this. I can't do that. I have a good job. I can't leave my job.” But I would say, you can work through that stuff if you really want to make it happen. Make it happen, work through it. Lean on your friends and your family if you can. That's what I did. Luckily you, my sister, was able to help and you rented my house and you took care of my horses, so it was wonderful. We took our two cats with us, which was a whole thing in itself... but it is possible. If you really want to make it happen. So I would say, if you have an opportunity, even if it's not living overseas, even if it's whatever your thing is that you want to do. If you have the opportunity, take it because even though there were hard times. Even though sometimes it sucked. I mean, it's life. Sometimes you're gonna have bad times. And I'm still really glad that I did it. Sometimes my husband and I will say to each other even now, we were there from 2012 to 2014. So it's been, you know, six years since we've been there, which is crazy. I can't believe it's been that long and sometimes we think to ourselves: Can you believe that we lived overseas for two years? It's kind of crazy.

 

Jenny/;

Do you say, “Hey, it's been six years since we've been overseas. So, you ready to go back?”

 

Kristy: 

I'm trying to work on him a little bit. 

 

Jenny: 

Good luck.

 

Kristy: 

I know. A little bit at a time. But yes, I would really, like, I still really want to go live in Germany. So that's one of my goals is to try to get back and live in Germany, or somewhere overseas. But yeah, I thought it was a good experience. So I would definitely do it again. 

 

Jenny: 

Well, thank you so much for coming on the show today Kristy! I really appreciated all the information and I think it really will help people who are maybe thinking about, you know, moving overseas. Whether it's specifically for a job or just moving overseas, maybe to work for themselves. I think this information will maybe help them to, you know, take the plunge and make the decision to do it.

 

Kristy:

Yeah, because basically, if I can do it, anyone can do it. I mean I'm just ,honestly I'm just a lowly government employee. I know I’m not anything special. Like I'm just another person, so if I could do it and convince my husband, who hates change, to do it, (and he still talks about it as a positive experience), you could do it too. It is possible. So I hope this helps people. I hope if you're thinking about taking the plunge in anything whether it's living overseas or whatever dream you may have, you should do it. I just didn't want to look back when I was like 80 and think, man, I should have done that. I wish I'd tried that. I did try it. And whether it works out or it didn't, at least I get to say that I tried it, which, that's really all I want in life, is to be able to look back and think at least I tried something.

 

Jenny:

I think we all hope to kind of be able to say that.

 

Kristy:

Yeah. Yeah it's exciting to say that you know. It's cool. Good dinner party conversation too!

 

Jenny:

This is true! “I lived in Italy.”

 

Kristy:

Yes, people love it even though, you know, they still think it's very glamorous. Sometimes I don't disabuse them of that notion. “ Yeah. Yes. Super glamorous. Yeah, sure.” I just let them think that.

 

Jenny: 

Well thanks again so much for being on the show today!

 

Kristy:

No problem! It was great to talk about it. Thanks for having me! 

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