Europe, Expat Living, Italy, Milan

Expat Living: An Interview with Mar in Milan, Italy.

May 27, 2014
Le Marche Italy
(Last Updated On: January 18, 2017)

Shout out a big old “ciao” to Mar (and use a lot of hand gestures while speaking), to welcome the the latest adventure seeker to be featured in my Expat Living Interview Series.

Originally from Mexico, Mar now lives in Milan, Italy. She talks about expat living and joins the ranks of others here on like Jessica L. Scott Reid in Hamburg and Sasha Romany in Paris.

All About Mar

I’m a Mexican girl living in Milan. When I’m not working or blogging, I’m enjoying “la dolce vita” and trying to travel as much as possible. I love good food and wine, photography, books, languages, sitcoms and fashion.

Mar in Milan, Italy.

Where are you from?

I’m half Mexican and half Spanish, growing up in Mexico where I lived until I was 18.

Where are you living now and how long have you been there?

I’m currently in Milan. I’ve lived here for 6 years, but I’ve been living in Italy for 13 years altogether.

Duomo in Milan

Have you lived anywhere else around the world?

Before Milan I lived in Castelraimondo, a small town in Le Marche, in the center of Italy. I’ve also lived in Spain and Denmark.

Do you plan to stay in your current location or move somewhere else in the future?

For the moment, I plan to stay in Milan.

What’s your personal story? What made you decide to take the big leap and leave home?

After high school, I took a sabbatical year to travel around Europe. That’s how I came to be in Le Marche where I started studying Italian and fell in love with the country. At the end of the sabbatical, I decided to move to Italy and study my degree here. In the meantime, I met my husband and moved to Milan, where we both now live and work.

Le Marche Italy

Do you ever miss home? What do you do to cope?

I miss home sometimes. At the beginning it was harder because I was young and far away from my family and friends. Yet I was following my dream and having such a great time in Italy that made me miss home a bit less. Now in Milan, I have a group of Mexican friends and anytime that we feel homesick, we get together and have an aperitivo (the Milanese happy hour). This helps a lot! 🙂

How do you blend in and be accepted by locals?

Since it was my decision and dream to move to Italy, I arrived with my mind open to absorb everything I could about their language, culture and customs. I think this was important for locals and made it easier for me to blend in.

Italian Food

Did you have to learn a new language? If yes, what? How did you go about learning the language and how long did it take you to become fluent?

Yes, I had to learn Italian. It was fairly easy because it’s similar to Spanish. It took me about six months to be able to have fluent conversations and take university classes in Italian – not to mention the dialect which I finally understand but can’t speak. I’m glad I lived in a small town where no one spoke English, as I had to learn the language fast.

What has been the most shocking thing you learned about the local culture?

Nothing really shocking as I also come from a Latin country and we have similar behaviors. However, there’s one thing that will always bother me and that’s the incapability of Italians to queue! Queuing can become a war here and you have to keep your eyes open, especially on the old ones since they are the most dangerous and always try to get ahead of you!

What is your number one tip about how to live life as an ex-pat?

Be patient. A lot of things will go wrong at the beginning … you won’t understand the language, people will seem rude to you, bureaucracy will be like hell and you’ll even start questioning your decision to move. If you’re are patient, you’ll get through all that and the sun will be shining soon enough.

What do you love most about living abroad?

The possibility to learn so much about another culture (and myself) and how that possibility broadens your mind and your opinions. Plus, it’s so cool to be in a continent where a one-hour plane ride can get you to another country.

Mar's Travels Around the World

Did you make the move solo? Or are you with a spouse or significant other, other members of your family, or friend(s)?

I moved to Italy alone when I was 18. I only had a few friends in my new town but they helped me a lot.

What do you do work wise? Did you have a job before you arrived or did you look for work when you got there? If you didn’t have a job, how did (or do) you land work?

When I arrived, I was a student but I started working part-time everywhere in town: bar, pizzeria, shops, language school, etc. Then I moved to Milan and started working as an assistant in a firm, all thanks to the languages I speak.

Find Mar.


Expat Living Information

Did you like this interview with Mar in Milan Italy? Then you should take a look at our expat living archives for even more interviews, tips for expat life in Berlin, and other articles like Berlin Love: Brandenburger Tor at Christmas which document my love for the German capital. 

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  • Reply Muza-chan May 29, 2014 at 1:33 am


    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

      I think Mar’s story is really interesting. Like me, she seemed to fall in love with Italy. I love how she went after what she wanted and just stayed there!

  • Reply Gran Canaria Local May 29, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    As expats ourselves, we were really keen to read this interview. And we were not disappointed. Although Mar enjoyed a smoother path to native status, we recognize some of the problems she’s encountered. Yes, the Canarians struggle with the concept of a queue as much as the Italians.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard May 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the interview. Mar gave us a great story! I think queuing is a problem the world over. 🙂

  • Reply Cathy Sweeney June 2, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for the introduction to Mar. I’ll be following her blog and social media. Easy to understand how she fell in love with Italy. I have, too. Wish that I could also live in Milan for a time. Maybe someday ….

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

      Thanks Cathy! Her blog is filled with lots of Italian food goodness. I love Italy so much too … not sure where I’d pick to live as I was not that fond of Milan but I’ve heard that Bologna is a good place to live.

  • Reply Mar June 3, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Thanks to Cheryl for the interview and thank you all for reading it!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 4, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Thank you Mar for taking part! Really loved reading your story. I also certainly understand why you fell in love with Italy. I yearn in my heart to go back again soon.

  • Reply Vanessa @ Green Global Travel June 26, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Interesting interview! It sounded like a smoother process since she went as a student. Lucky that she found her home so early in life! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 26, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      Thanks Vanessa. I’m a little envious of Mar. 🙂

  • Reply J December 23, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Planning my first solo trip to Milan and nervous! Ran across the blog (in general) and this piece, encouraging!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard December 23, 2014 at 3:24 am

      Glad to hear, J! Don’t be nervous and enjoy Milan. Also, feel free to drop me an email, if you have any specific questions. 🙂

  • Reply Ottavia Tagliavini February 4, 2016 at 5:22 am

    Good morning! If someone reading this article have trouble finding some place to stay in Milan for long therm (apartment), that is really hard (also for Italians already), maybe without possibility to come to visit before the houses, we could help you.
    Also for just 1 month rent to settle in and then maybe finding something better/cheaper. In my website you could find some tips also how to find a place and also about cost of living I prepared 10 interesting tips.
    Like example, people say Milan is expensive (not people coming from London 😉 ), hope somebody finds it useful. Compliments for the blog. Thanks.

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