Melinda Gallo

Originally from California, I have been an expat for most of my adult life. I have lived in France, England, and Italy. For the past 16 years, Florence has been my home. 

My desire to live in France grew after I lived with two different families for a month after high school. My love of the country propelled me to major in French literature at university. I spent my junior year abroad in Lyon, France. After returning to the US to complete my studies, my primary goal was to return to France to live.

Many said it would be impossible to get a job overseas with no work experience, but that only made me even more determined. A month after graduating college, I met the CEO of a French software company. She told me she was looking for a native English-speaking technical support person to live in Paris where the headquarters were located. After spending one day at her company to speak with her and become acquainted with the software, she hired me. 

Five months after graduating college, I moved to Paris. I never imagined myself ever leaving Paris, but five years later I moved to England and worked as a freelance database developer. When my reason to be in England vanished, I wasn’t sure if I should return to Paris or travel somewhere.

The decision to come to Florence wasn’t mine. Initially, I dreamed of living in Italy for only a few months to learn the language and find my inspiration to write. I had been writing short stories and felt I needed more life experience. I imagined myself staying in Rome, Siena, or Venice for three months. However, a trip to the Italian Consulate in London changed that. The woman I spoke to convinced me that Florence would be a better choice
for me. Her reasons were so convincing that I searched for a school to take Italian lessons and left a month later.

Within three days of arriving in Florence, a powerful sensation of being home came over me. It was an unexpected feeling because I always felt I would return to Paris to live.

Living in different countries has enriched my life. Not only did I learn more about the locals, their culture, their language, and their country, but I also learned more about myself. 

After living overseas for many years, I have understood that diversity is what makes our world so beautiful. It is in embracing other people, languages, cultures, and countries that we enhance our lives.

IG/Twitter: @melindagallo

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