Expat Interview: A Youth Exchange that Changed Destiny | ExpatWoman.com

Expat Interview: A Youth Exchange that Changed Destiny

Meet Angela Stratta, teacher, writer and blogger. She left the UK for love and has never looked back...

Posted on

17 May 2015

Last updated on 2 January 2018
Expat Interview: A Youth Exchange that Changed Destiny

I’m living in:

I live in Northern Italy with my Italian husband.

How long have you lived there?   

For almost forty years, long enough to have three grown up children and four grandchildren.

A bit about me:

While I was growing up in the South east of England I had no idea that I would marry a handsome Italian let alone move away from my country. I was happy with my family and friends and jogged along in the education system ending up at Teachers Training College. When I was a little girl if ever I imagined what my husband would be like he would have had a name like David or Paul. I also love writing and cooking. I have a blog called cappuccinoandbrioche.blogspot.ae/

Why did you move?

My destiny was changed forever when I went on a youth exchange when I was seventeen and met my future husband. He was twenty one and we fell for each other on the first day. My fate was sealed, after him anyone else would have been second best. My parents loved him and had visions of Italian holidays.

My name fitted in perfectly, it's the same in Italian, and my Teachers training stood me in good stead to find a job. When he asked me to marry him my parents encouraged me and I immediately found a job in a private English language school.

Ice cream
What are the summer months (Jun-Aug) like in your part of the world?

My first holiday in Italy to meet my future in-laws was in the summer. I had already fallen in love with an Italian man, now I fell in love with the Italian Summer. Endless days of sunshine, eating ice cream at ten o clock in the evening, outdoor cinemas and concerts, open air pools galore, lazy afternoon siestas, actually in Italian they are called riposini, little rests, and sitting in cafes in piazzas until midnight, I lost my heart forever. I love having a balcony full of trailing bougainville, sweet jasmine, bright pink geraniums, delicate blue plumbago, plump velevety roses and the ubiquitous basil and sage plants. There is something so sensual about sleeping in crisp linen sheets, floaty white curtains wafting in the warm Summer breeze, then getting up while the air is still fresh to do the ironing because it will be too hot later on.

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Is summer (Jun-Aug) the best time of year to visit?

It is a good time to visit, although in August the cities, towns and villages will shut down under the strong summer sun. Once my brother and sister-in-law went on a tour of Umbria in August. The places they visited were so deserted that at one point my brother went round shouting out 'Is anybody here?'. No-one answered. They were all on holiday or inside keeping cool. May, June and September are probably the best months because it’s not too busy or too hot, but July and August are fine if you plan to have a beach holiday or go to the mountains.

What do you enjoy doing with your time in the summer?

Italy is a land where no-one is very far from the sea, the mountains or the lakes.
Together with the many beautiful cities and towns full of historical interest as well as lively contemporary activities there is always something to do for everyone. Italians love cycling, swimming, skiing, football, windsurfing, scuba diving and all these activities are easily available to anyone coming to visit.
Italian school holidays are quite long, from the beginning of June until the second week in September. This probably is because of the heat and in fact in August all the offices and factories close down. Then it is the best time to go to the mountains, seaside or lakes.

What’s the highest temperature it can reach in your summer time (Jun-Aug)?

38° in July, sometimes 40°.

Italian Street

What do you love the most about this time of year?

I love the feeling from April onwards that the sunshine is here to stay. There might be a few dramatic storms to clear the air and freshen up the town but you can guarantee the sunny rays will be warming your skin again and your woolen jumpers can stay wrapped up until October.

What do you like the least about this time of year?

The only thing I can think of that is not so great is the mosquitoes. The stunning coastline of Sardinia was completely inaccessible once due to the mosquitoes as were parts of the Tuscan coast.

What do you wish you’d known before you moved? 

If I could turn the clock back I would have had proper Italian lessons when I first came here. My Italian is good enough, it would be rather sad if it wasn't after all these years, but I just picked it up by speaking to my in-laws.  I always speak English to my husband and children and then as my job was to teach English my opportunities to have a good old natter in Italian were limited.

At one point I found that my English was suffering and decided to concentrate on that. Maybe I'm not that gifted as a linguist but I would like to speak both languages better and I really do admire those that do.

Anything else you’d like to share with us about your expat experience?

One challenge when living in a foreign country is bringing up children bilingual, or in some cases, even trilingual. My children managed to learn both languages because we spoke English at home and Italian at school. I think language can help shape their identity and is a great resource when they grow up.