When foreigners decide to settle in Sicily, they are often asked why. What islanders really query is those people’s opinion on the island.
A twisted way of inducing foreigners to say how nice it is. There’s more. A successive question will be what their opinion was before arriving. And if it matches reality.
Again, what they really want to hear is a contradiction. Newcomers should say the the rumors are ridiculous, that life in Sicily is the closest thing to paradise they know. Praising the food, nature and while they are at it, people. Do not moan!
The following face is tricky. Natives face the newcomers with blatant local problems. Traffic, bureaucracy, decay. Why is this tricky? Because the poor foreigner is supposed to defend the indefensible.
Acknowledge the problems, yes, denounce them, not yet. Remember that Sicily has a history of being occupied. The mistrust for the newcomers is a conditioned reflex. Sicilians want to check out who they’re dealing with before granting trust. Criticizing them is not helping in earning that.
Moan, groan and postpone
This phase in the life of the newcomers is not easy. Keeping their mouth shut and resisting to compare life with the one in their home country.
The biggest mistake is telling islanders this and that would never happen abroad. It makes Sicilians sad and drives the same foreigners mad. The differences are so flagrant they hurt. And giving too much importance to what goes wrong, shades out the good.
The foreigner must resist to complain. And keep concentrated on the nice things.
The moaning among islanders goes on without restraint. Everything on the island gets worse every day. When it comes to responsibility, no prisoners are taken.
Take the lame situation of the public transport for example. Top down, it’s the fault of politicians, the transport company, the drivers and the riffraff boarding. Besides the poor road surface, the price and the color of the busses.
Best case scenario
Settled foreigners do have an advantage over the islanders: they can compare. The old ying and yang tune. To recognize an amazing dawn, you must know how grey a morning can get.
To appreciate the racket of morning traffic, you have to experience the silence of an overpacked subway wagon.
A couple of empty beer bottles on a Sicilian beach are easily forgotten when recalling a cold wet and windy seaside.
Going grocery shopping in open air is delightful in the absence of muzak and air-conditioning.
Worst case scenario
That happens when the foreigner starts complaining. And these are usual just and deserved critics. Unacceptable, intolerable situations.
Spiteful habits, ridiculous routines. In no time the newcomers grows sour and has no other choice than leaving. The islanders will wave them off.
Moan along with the wailers
Those who stay can now bitch along. How the local team is a pitiful bunch that should be ploughing the farming land.
Dishonest politicians, potholes in the streets, garbage piling up, traffic. The heat, the wind, the rain, the heat again.
Complaining helps to process the frustration. As an ex-newcomer, your voice is now accepted. Not appreciated though. So keep your complaining at a minimum.