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Episode 231: ARCHAEOLOGY

This week we are joined by archaeologist and longtime Bittersweet Life listener Christy Schirmer. In her mid-30s, Christy decided to quit her job and pursue a PhD in Classics, something she had always dreamed about doing. Fast-forward a few years and she now comes to Italy (a country she loves) to work once a year on archaeological digs. What’s she looking for in the dirt? And how did she decide to take the risk of leaving her old life behind? Christy chats with Katy about the reality of...


Episode 230: EIGHTEEN

On this week's episode, Katy and Tiffany reminisce about their first experiences leaving home—when they went away to college at age eighteen. Why was Katy’s experience so bad and Tiffany’s so awesome? Was it really only luck? How do you cope with debilitating homesickness? And does having a boyfriend make a big difference? What makes one homebody want to stay close to home, and another want to go as far away as possible? We discuss all this and more on our latest episode, EIGHTEEN. Today’s...


Episode 229: HALLOWEEN

This week, in honor of Halloween, we feature the stories of listeners and friends, whether they be recountings of run-ins with ghosts they themselves have experienced, or just downright scary stuff that's happened to them. So get comfortable, pour yourself a piping cup of tea, curl up under your favorite blanket, turn the lights down...and enjoy! Bonus interview with a four-year-old who loves horror films. Yeah, you don't want to miss that. Plus: how to use every day foods you probably...


Episode 228: GHOSTS

Join us for a whimsical (and not so whimsical) conversation about ghosts—do you believe in them? Have you ever encountered one? Are you the type of person who automatically looks for “rational explanations” when spooky things occur? Or are you open to believing something paranormal is afoot? Where’s the line between open-minded and gullible? We also talk about the famous ghosts that supposedly haunt Rome, including Beatrice Cenci. Tiffany tells her tragic story. Also, the Colosseum—a place...


Episode 227: WANDERLUST

This week, Katy interviews debut author Laura Smith, and the two discuss the definition of wanderlust, why some people spend their lives perennially longing for new experiences, and how you can challenge the status quo for your own life. They also examine the dark side of wanderlust—does a yearning for "other" mean you are unsatisfied with your life? When does travel become escape? When you are constantly running away, what happens to the people you leave behind? In her debut work, The Art...


Episode 226: ISOLATED

There's nothing like a complete political meltdown in your home country to make you feel utterly alone in your adopted one. Tiffany opens up about her feelings of isolation in the wake of the Kavanaugh debacle raging across the pond. When you are consumed for weeks on end with a political story that no one in your day-to-day life understands, it's easy to feel cut off. Sometimes all you want to do is walk into your office and commiserate with your colleagues about the latest insane thing...


Episode 225: LOST

You’ve doubtless heard the phrase, “Not all who wander are lost.” This week, Katy and Tiffany theorize that many who wander are, indeed, lost. Why is it that so many expats come from troubled homes or have difficult pasts? While we haven’t made a scientific study, in our time living abroad, we’ve noticed that expats and travel addicts seem to boast a much higher than average amount of family dysfunction and general malaise than the those who spend their lives close to home. In this week’s...


Episode 224: DOLOMITES

On the first episode of season six, Katy and Tiffany take a trip north (at least in their memories) to the Dolomite mountains in the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige. It’s a part of the country that is well-loved by Italians from all over the peninsula, but not particularly known by people outside the country. The sounds of munching goats, clanging cow bells, and haunting chants—snippets of recordings that Katy captured on her two trips to the Dolomites—enliven the conversation that is...


Episode 223: ARRIVEDERCI

In this introspective episode, Katy says goodbye to Rome the night before she flies back to the States. And as she contemplates the end of another chapter, her thoughts turn to John Keats. Why John Keats, you ask? At the start of her time in Rome, Katy visited the Non-Catholic Cemetery and the grave of the Young English Poet. On her last day, she happened to find herself standing in front of the museum dedicated to him and his contemporary Percy Shelley. She decided to go in. On their...


Episode 222: DESTINY

Are we the masters of our own fate, or merely unwitting pawns in a larger scheme, the irresistible pull of destiny guiding all of our so-called decisions? Or is the reality somewhere in the middle? In their second live show, recorded at The Beehive Hotel & Hostel, Katy and Tiffany explore their own beliefs on this vast and bewildering topic, and what it means for their own lives and the paths they have...


Episode 221: LABOR

In honor of Labor Day, Katy and Tiffany take the week off from their labor of love, The Bittersweet Life podcast. But in this special, super-short episode we ask for your feedback for three upcoming episodes. Listen to the episode to hear our questions so you can be featured on the show! Email your stories (typed or voice messages work) to ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ SPONSOR THE SHOW: Reach expats, future...


Episode 220: STAYING?

As Katy nears the end of her time in Rome (this time), Tiffany can’t help but ask, will you stay? Or, more precisely, would you stay? Would you stay in Rome IF all the conditions allowed it: work visa, gainful employment, apartment? Her answer might surprise you. And it opens a discussion: how do you know when it’s time to go home, when it’s time to stay put, when it’s time to move on, when it’s time to hit the road in search of a new adventure? How much do age and career play into it?...


Episode 219: ABDICATE

Moving abroad isn’t just for twenty-somethings. Our guest this week proves just that. Jackie Jalley was a successful lawyer in her early 40s and living in Chicago when she realized she wasn’t content feeding her wanderlust with short, occasional trips to Europe—she had to move there. And when she finally decided to take the plunge, she didn’t do it by halves. No leave of absence from her job—she quit. No storage unit for her clothes and furniture—she sold the lot of it. She was fully...


Episode 218: POSTCARDS

A postcard captures a moment in time—a literal snapshot of a place. But according to Katy, people make the best postcards. If you visit a place often enough, every time you go back, you’ll inevitably find faces you’ve seen before. Locals whom you’ve noticed many times—and who have perhaps noticed you—although you may know nothing about them. May have never even spoken… and yet they are every bit a landmark of your experience of the city as an Eiffel Tower or a Colosseum. Maybe it’s the...


Episode 217: BILINGUAL

Want to raise a bilingual child? Whether you are an expat or not, in a mixed-culture relationship or not, it is possible to raise your child in two (or more) languages, and the benefits you will pass on to your child are significant. But how do you go about it? Today Katy sits down with British mum Kristie Prada, author and creator of the blog Mamma Prada. She and her Italian husband live in the UK and are serious about raising their children to speak both languages flawlessly. In her...


Episode 216: ORVIETO

We often talk about expat life in big cities like Rome. But what’s it like to be a foreigner in a small village where everyone knows everyone? On this week’s episode {ORVIETO}, we catch up with two Americans living in the tiny central Italian town of Orvieto—two expats whom we interviewed for the first time back in 2014. Toni De Bella (Episode 34: Venture) moved to Orvieto in 2012 alone after raising her son. Linda Martinez (Episode 33: Parents) is the owner of The Beehive Hostel in Rome;...


Episode 215: SUMMIT

After the wild week in the news in the US, Katy and Tiffany take a brief break from their recent Rome-based episodes to discuss the events surrounding the now infamous Helsinki Summit. In the course of their commiserations, they wonder what is harder: having to live through the chaos as it unfolds in your own back yard, or living a world away in an expat bubble and not having anyone to talk to about it. What’s worse: inundation or isolation? Which leads to another observation: when you live...


Episode 214: RUDE

Have you ever walked into someone’s house in Japan with your shoes on and had a room full of people laugh at you? (Katy has.) Have you ever traipsed into a room in an Italian home that has been freshly mopped and been given the evil eye by the lady of the house? (Tiffany has.) Part of living in a foreign culture is learning (often the hard way) that some things that are totally acceptable back home are, at best, a faux pas in your adopted country, and, at worst, a humiliating gaff. Picking...


Episode 213: IN-LAWS

The best thing about marrying an Italian? You’re automatically part of a big Italian family. The worst thing about marrying an Italian? You’re automatically part of a big Italian family. If you’re a regular listener to the show, you’ve heard Tiffany talk about (and sometimes complain about) her Italian in-laws for years—especially during those long months when she and her husband lived with them when in between apartments. This week, Tiffany’s mother-in-law, Luisa and father-in-law, Rocco,...


Episode 212: ETHNICITY

Issues of race and diversity are on everyone’s lips and minds in the United States right now. But people in Italy are just starting to have these conversations. In a country where, until quite recently, everyone had a similar racial make-up, perhaps it simply wasn’t necessary until now. In an interview with our former intern, first generation Salvadoran American Estrella Gomez, we probe the issues facing an expat of color in a place that is just now getting used to its status as a country...