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Susan Dufresne

Susan Defresne

Expat stories!

Tell us a little about yourself, 

1 Where do you live now and how long have you been there?

I live in a little Italian village called Guardia Sanframondi which is about an hour from Napoli.  A few days ago was my 3 year anniversary of my move to Italy!

2 What do you love about where you live now?

The location is so perfect.  GS is an easy drive or train ride to the Amalfi Coast and Napoli, and only a few hours’ drive to the Puglia region and the Adriatic Coast.  It’s the best of both worlds really.  Plus, our little town is surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards in a beautiful, but not well-known area of Campania.

3. How is it different to your home country?

It actually looks a lot like where I am from in Northern California – Mendocino County – with the mountains, valleys and vineyards.  One huge difference here is the availability of socialized medicine which is a big benefit.  Another is what we call the “Farm to Table” or  “Slow Food” movement in the U.S. which is the normal way of eating here.

4.What frustrates you about your host country?

The most frustrating would be the infamous government bureaucracy.  It’s a real thing and you have to adjust your mentality and just expect long waits, re-doing of everything, and a paper-driven culture.

The CoronaVirus

5.How has the CoronaVirus effected you?

The Coronavirus has changed everything.  Because Italy was one of the first countries to be hit the hardest, we have been dealing with restrictions and quarantines for awhile now.  It is mandatory to wear a mask and gloves, we cannot leave the confines of our little town unless it’s an emergency or work-related, and we are restricted from daily errands to once a week.  Of course there is no congregating or visiting with anyone that does not live in your home.  It can feel very isolating but our town and most of our region has handled the crisis very well in my opinion.  I am very proud of Italy for the drastic steps they’ve taken.

6 Where are you now and where is the rest of your family?

I am in my town of Guardia Sanframondi where I live permanently.  My younger son was in Indonesia for work and was able to fly out a few weeks ago to stay in Texas with my older son. So fortunately, they are now both together in Austin, Texas. The rest of my family all lives in Northern California and are there now dealing with similar issues that we have here in Italy.

7.Are you in self-isolation, lock down or are you social distancing and what rules do you need to follow?

The hardest things have changed over time.  Initially it was just not knowing what was really going on and being worried about my children and family.  Now that I know they are safe, the most difficult thing has been not being able to socialize with friends here.

8.What do you find the hardest about your situation right now?

It is a roller-coaster of emotions.  I went from being completely fine with everything and then two weeks later feeling very lost and isolated.  Now, I have accepted the situation and try to spend my time being creative and in the moment.  I have an outdoor space and a garden and that has been a lifesaver for me.  My advice would be to be productive, learn something new and try to help others in whatever way you can. It helps get you out of your head.

Isolation tips

9. Do you have any tips for anyone in lock down or self isolation?

It is a roller-coaster of emotions.  I went from being completely fine with everything and then two weeks later feeling very lost and isolated.  Now, I have accepted the situation and try to spend my time being creative and in the moment.  I have an outdoor space and a garden and that has been a lifesaver for me.  My advice would be to be productive, learn something new and try to help others in whatever way you can. It helps get you out of your head.

10. What are you doing differently now compared to a few months ago?

I’m definitely not spending as much money. I shop only for the essentials and cook every meal of course since there is no other option.  Creative cooking is becoming a habit.  Because of the lack of distractions, I’ve gotten quite a bit done personally and for my blog.  It feels really good to have so much focus.  Hopefully, I’ll continue those habits when this is over.  And… I’m not drinking my usual Campari Spritz’ with friends at the bar!  Soon, I hope.

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