Moving to Europe is the romantic ideal that has been encapsulated over the centuries by authors, poets, and film writers. With city hubs such as fashionable Milan, artistic Paris, and cosmopolitan Barcelona, as well as rural villages such as the Kostroma region in Russia or in the hills of Teruel in Spain, Europe is the continent which can accommodate all tastes. And moving to Europe simply could not be easier.
Jayne Foster, 50, was brought up in the outskirts of Harrogate in north England on a farm. She moved to the Cote d’Azur in France in 1977 in answer to an au-pair agency advert, and she has not looked back since. “I had the intention of staying a year, mainly to avoid the English winter,” she says. Jayne could barely speak French: “I could just about count to 10 and I could say Bon Jour and Bon Soir, but that was it,” she says. “But au-pairing for small boys and living with a French family who didn’t speak English meant I had to learn fast. And of course the stream of French boyfriends helped too.”
Jayne found moving to the urban metropolis that is the South of France, a great change to milking cows in England. “I had to fit in,” she says, “I had signed a years contract and air travel was not great in those days so I had to settle and find roots here”.
Moving to Europe need not be a daunting or complicated prospect, and avoiding a cultural shock is simple, by following a few steps. Research your proposed location thoroughly, and visit it before you move. Evening classes are a good way to give you a basic grounding in a language before you set off. Once you move abroad, stick it out even it proves difficult at first, and be flexible in changing to adjust to local rhythms and life. Above all enjoy this opportunity for new experiences.
Try and sample as many of the local delicacies as you can. Fruit, vegetable, meat, and fish markets are a regular occurrence on the continent, and it will be here that you will experience the real flavours of the country.
Helen Byrne, 24, has just completed her move out to Castellamare di Stabia, in the province of Naples in southern Italy, a world away from her native homeland of industrial Rochdale in Lancashire, England. She is working as a language assistant at the local school.
She says: “I lived in Florence for a year before I moved to the south and down here the cultural differences do take a lot more getting used to.”
Helen describes Castellamare as a mini Naples, filled with windy streets, a long promenade, and a chaotic town centre: “It is different to home, but the whole point for me of moving abroad was to experience a different culture and a different way of life.”
Helen found that meeting people was not difficult: “Southern Italy is very friendly and open to newcomers, and I met a lot of people through work,” she says, “But it is strange not to speak English, especially as the Italian dialect in the south is difficult to understand.” She found that joining the local church helped her to make friends: “I am also looking into joining a dramatic society, and I would like to join a gym and dance class.” Helen is also about to start voluntary work with the local council’s youth information office. “You just have to get involved in local activities, and make an effort to fit in,” she says.
Learning a new culture and adapting to a new environment takes time to get used to, and there may be a few teething problems to contend with. But ultimately just relax, have fun, and enjoy the luxury of experiencing new cultures and environments.
Check out the immigration laws before you relocate.
Your pets can come with you to Europe as well. Check with your vet for further details.