The first step I have already taken, is starting to learn Italian. I am working with an Italian tutor as well as using Rosetta Stone. It feels like a slow, difficult process trying to learn another language, but it is also fun and exciting knowing that I will soon be using this new language daily.
The next step was finding out if I could get a Medic Alert bracelet written in both English and Italian. I also wanted to make sure the Medic Alert symbol is recognized worldwide. Although I have lived abroad before, this will be my first time living in a country that speaks another language other than English. I called Medic Alert and found out that I can get a bracelet with both Italian and English on it. I'm very excited and relieved about this! I also found out that I could do it through Medic Alert here in the U.S., or one of their affiliates in either the U.K. or Cyprus. Great news!
I have already taken a look at the Italian allergy website: http://www.foodallergyitalia.org
The website is in Italian. I am going to ask my tutor to help translate for me. I will probably try to e-mail them and maybe also try to call them. I need to find out how foods are labeled there, and if there are other suggestions and precautions I should take.
When I went to Italy a few summers ago with my family, I made multiple copies of chef cards in Italian. I want to update it and make sure there is nothing else that I want to add or include.
There are a few concerns I have about moving to Italy with my allergies. I may live with another teacher there. If I do, will they be careful with my allergies, and not make me feel uncomfortable in my own apartment? Living with other people can be difficult in general, but with allergies, it presents many more complexities. Any common space is always a big question mark. Did she eat something I was allergic to while sitting on the couch? Are the dishes clean and safe for me to use? etc. (I will go into this further in a follow-up post).
Another concern (that may sound a bit silly) is whether I will be able to find chocolate and ice cream that I will be able to eat. Now I know on the grand scale of important concerns, this may not seem big, but going somewhere for a year, and not having any ice cream or chocolate is kind of a big deal! When I lived in Australia, the only chocolate I could eat was Twix bars (because they were manufactured in a different facility there, than in the U.S. where I can't eat them) and soft serve vanilla from McDonald's. That was it! I rarely had the soft serve because it wasn't very good, and after a while, Twix bars can get pretty old! Now, I am definitely an extremely healthy eater, but come on...a girl needs something sweet on occasion! I already know I can't take the risk with gelato because of cross-contamination, so will I yet again live without sweets for a year? I hope not!
One other concern I have right now, is how much money I will end up spending on food. In Australia, I used to go to the grocery store almost every other day to get fresh food. I could barely eat anything packaged, so I needed to buy fresh meat, veggies and fruit. I would spend at least $100 a week, if not more, on feeding myself! I am wondering how much it will cost in Italy. Will I be able to find more packaged foods that I can eat there? I doubt it...
I will continue to add and update on my findings, as I go about the process of preparing to move to Italy!