Due to my apprenticeship in a company, I had the chance to spend 5 weeks working abroad in Italy. But, these 5 weeks, were more than just doing the same job elsewhere. They were about learning about myself in a foreign environment and boosting my wanderlust even more. With this post, I want to share some of the most important aspects, I have learnt over there.

As you know I am a big fan of travelling and experiencing different cultures. So, it fit perfectly to have the chance working abroad. After some trouble figuring out where I could go, the decision was made:

Desio, Italy

First, I was kind of disappointed because I have already spent 3 weeks in Italy before this year (and a lot of times in the past). But then, I reminded myself that going to Italy is still better than staying in Stuttgart.

Short disclaimer: It was the first time I was away for such a long time. I never did this, these days obligatory, gap year after school. I am the guy who slided right into studies. But, this year, in June I made the first trip on my own. Back then, I learned a lot about travelling alone, things going wrong and of course the Italian culture. Eager to make new experiences, I couldn’t wait to leave Germany, as soon as I was offered the chance to go to Italy.

The first time being abroad for such a long time, wasn’t easy, but neither it was hard. It was different. Different in all kinds. I earlier learnt in my life how to cook, so supplying myself with something to eat wasn’t a problem here. I also learnt (especially in the last year) how to use my time and get something done. But something I haven’t had before, was that I had days, on which I spoke almost nothing.

In some form, I felt excluded from others. There were no safe-spot, no person I could go to without hesitating. In the beginning, there were only strangers and I needed to build some trust and relationships with them. As soon as I have learnt more about my colleagues, I felt less uncomfortable while talking to them. Even better, I stopped feeling uncomfortable talking to strangers, because of my “exercise” in talking to people I don’t know.

It was interesting to see such a difference. I had some problems to talk to other people in the beginning, because it layed outside of my comfort zone. But as soon, as I started to try it, my comfort zone expanded and it felt just fine to talk to people I have never talked to before.

Leave your comfort zone!

Something which felt uncomfortable in the beginning, was normal at the end of my stay there. I was positively surprised about this, but this wasn’t the only positive surprise; Another area in which I stepped out of my comfort zone was scheduling appointments.

I was used to schedule a lot

In the past, I scheduled a lot of things. I was used to schedule, to have “control.” On the one side you could argue, that I was organized and knew how to finish something before its deadline. But on the other side, you could say that I was spontaneous as a rock and kind of stubborn. Living in a foreign country like Italy taught me the following:

Control is just an illusion

But even more interesting: Control isn’t necessary to be happy. The Italians taught me that you enjoy life a lot more, with being more spontaneous. They have a way less complicated approach to schedules. Because, in the end, you can’t control everything, even if you try it. And every time you get remembered about this, you will start feeling bad.

What I recommend instead of trying to control everything around one  is to manage your schedule. I think the term “managing” fits better, because it still leaves you room to rearrange appointments and other dates, without feeling like a non-achiever. But, you also still have a guideline, you can hold on to. To understand exactly what I mean, I will explain this further in a future blog post.

The German disease, to try to plan everything and make it perfect, was a huge contrast to the Italian lifestyle I experienced there. The Italians seem to be the exact opposite. I talked to my colleagues over there and all of them sent out some kind of inner happiness. So, I was curious, what makes them feel so happy.

Within my observations I recognized, that a huge part of this happiness must be the mentioned spontaneity. They were great to manage things on the run, and were super creative while doing that! Once, I asked, if I can join some colleagues to visit a fair. They agreed immediately, although I wasn’t scheduled in, which caused a lot of organization in the background to get me there. I was fascinated, how friendly and spontaneous they were, just to make it possible for me to go there.

Another aspect in which I see the Italians miles ahead in comparison to, for example the Germans, is enjoying life. Especially the little things get a lot of appreciation from the Italians. It seems that they can get deep satisfaction from a cup of coffee, a quick smile or a short conversation.

Little things are enjoyable, too!

This was interesting to see, because often I felt like only the big things can create strong (positive) emotions. The Italians taught me the exact opposite. They appreciated the little moments of a day and didn’t look for huge events to get satisfied.

Spontaneity and appreciation, a great combination

All the things I mentioned so far, are things that I experienced at work and in my direct communication with Italians. But, even without direct contact, I had some crucial inspiration over there. To explain, how this was possible, I have to tell you how things went there:

The actual reason I was there was a project I should manage. Because of some communication problems things went worse than expected and I had a lot additional time during my working hours. I used this time to read “In defense of food” and improve my knowledge about blogging, Instagram and Pinterest. Exactly in this time, I developed some deeper understanding which message I want to spread and in which direction I want to go in the future. One part of all this, is the collaboration with @dome_kra to create awesome content for Instagram. But this isn’t the only goal I want to achieve:

Travels and Self-Development progress

Working abroad has taught me a lot and im grateful for all of that, but that doesn’t mean that I have finished, what I have begun about a year ago. All the little things, I learnt while working abroad, are just a deeper motivation to create my own path of life and Self-Development. But it isn’t only about me. You should benefit from all of that, too! I want to inspire and help you, with personal experiences and recommendations, but also the ability to become part of the community around this blog.

Therefore, I want to increase the exchange of information and the overall engagement with every one of the readers and followers!

Also, it was a lot of fun, to tell you about my short trips to different spots in the near environment. In the future, I want to write travel blog posts on a more personal level. But ther are also some ideas to involve you! In the future, I want to ask you for recommendations and what you want to know about a place, I am at. This, is only one of many ideas, I got during my time working abroad, and I hope you stay tuned (and invite some friends)!

Talking about my spare time there; Another thing, I have done there often, is to think about myself and my life. In general, I tend to overthink things too much but there, I had the time and the calmness to see things a bit different. After I established some kind of schedule (it was way more Italian) over there, I used my spare time to read, think about myself, meditate, do some sporty activities and listen to music.

Especially meditating was great to calm myself, every time my brain starts overheating. Although I have introduced meditating earlier in my life, in Desio I built a stable routine around it. Since then, I meditate at least 5 minutes each morning, to clear my head and calm myself. Sometimes, it works better, sometimes it doesn’t work at all, but I become better over time.

Meditating is a learning process

Like almost anything, you can only get better, if you are willing to invest some time and effort. This goes for my blog, but also your next “big thing”! Life in general is a huge learning process, and we only can get better if we put ourselves out there and leave our comfort zones (as I have mentioned above). With this, old struggles become an easy exercise and we start to look for new challenges!

This is called progress

Finally, although, my project didn’t work as good as I had hoped, the whole stay was an amazing experience. First of all, I learnt a lot about Italians, their culture and their attitude. I guess, I seldom have seen such nice and supporting people, almost always with a smile on their faces. Second, I visited some truly amazing places like Lake Como, Monza & Milan. And third, probably the most important, I definitely learnt a lot about myself. I learnt, that I wanted to create my own life without hiding behind fear, without struggling because of not-doing things. But instead of doing this only on my own, I want to share all of that with you, to inspire others to do the same!

Let me know, what was a huge and eye-opening experience in your life?