My Heart in Two Places

An expat is both a foreigner and a local

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Iíve been an expat for over 20 years. The word ďexpatĒ is not a word I use to describe myself; itís a word I use to succinctly explain my life in Florence and Paris. Being an expat for some people means living overseas and returning ďhomeĒ every year. For me, being an expat means being a foreigner and a local all at once in a place that is your ďhome.Ē Living overseas is a big part of my life and is at the heart of who I am. It explains so much about me: not just how I live my life, but also how I interact with others and how I see the world around me. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - An expat is both a foreigner and a local

Achieving balance in Florence

Friday, June 26, 2015

When I began this blog, I initially imagined that I would write about what I love in my two cities and share the magic of each one. I had been happily going back and forth between Florence and Paris for a year and a half before I claimed Paris as my second home almost three years ago. The decision to make Paris my home was precipitated by my divorce and my decision to move in with my beau. It wasnít until recently that I realized that my life was out of balance and I needed to do something to get it back into balance. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Achieving balance in Florence

Diving back into my local life

Thursday, April 16, 2015

When I arrived in Florence, I dropped my bag off in my apartment and rushed outside to embrace my beloved city. I walked briskly along the Arno with no destination in mind. I headed toward the Ponte Vecchio and let my inspiration guide me to where to go next. People were strolling along the narrow lungarno in both directions. It was impossible to stay on the sidewalk so I stepped onto the street when I heard that there werenít any cars coming. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Diving back into my local life

Savoring the moment

Friday, February 27, 2015

One thing I love about living in both Florence and Paris is that I have the luxury of time. Whether I plan an excursion around town or if I happen to be out to meet a friend or to run an errand, I get to take a moment or two to enjoy my cities. I often take a detour just so I can admire one of my favorite churches, admire the view of the Arno from different angles, or stroll along backstreets. I do my best to breathe in my cities and enjoy them whenever I get a chance. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Savoring the moment

Simultaneously fitting in and sticking out

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My upbringing has probably made my being an expat a little less challenging than for others. My parents were of two different (and opposing) races: my mother was Chinese and my father was Italian. As a result, I have never felt as if I really fit in anywhere and have always felt like the odd-one-out. I was brought up in my Chinese family so I was used to being ďdifferentĒ and never felt as if I fully belonged even though I did. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Simultaneously fitting in and sticking out

Indulging in Paris before taking off for Florence

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I am a city girl. I have known that ever since I lived in Lyon, France for my junior year abroad. When I returned to California, I dreamt of going to live in another city and was fortunate enough to land in Paris. I am extremely fortunate to call two cities my home. In Florence, I live in the heart of the city, but in France my beau and I live just outside of Paris. Itís incredibly close and it only takes me 20 minutes on the mťtro to get to the center of town. But for me there is something about going to sleep in the city and waking up to it that I truly miss. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Indulging in Paris before taking off for Florence

Making room for change

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

As I settle into 2015, I have finally made room for some changes to occur in my life. After being an expat for so many years, I have realized that I canít force change to happen, but I can make room for it to occur. I canít keep pushing against the current; I have to just let go and allow the current to take me. For my first experience as an expat, I had to separate from my family and friends, my daily routine, my lifestyle, and my way of being in the world. It was challenging at first because I didnít know who I was without all that had defined me up to that point. Eventually, after letting go of just about everything and feeling as if I were lost, things suddenly got easier. Read More>>

Is expat life glamorous?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Expat life definitely looks glamorous when you see photos of expats doing fun and exciting things, visiting exotic places youíve dreamed of, and eating foods that you havenít yet tasted. But, itís not really the case. We might be exposed to many new and interesting things, but the expat life itself is not exactly glamorous. Living overseas adds many other challenges that we wouldnít have if we were living in our native homelands and it can be quite challenging at times. Read More>>

Places affect and shape us

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Every place affects us differently. Some places instill us with peace and tranquility while others instill us with other emotions. I have noticed that when I am in Florence and Paris different aspects are brought to the forefront. Florence accentuates my creativity and desire for freedom while Paris accentuates ambition and my desire for structure. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Places affect and shape us

A jaunt to Venice before the year ended

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Before the end of 2014, my beau and I decided to take a trip to Venice. I was happy when he suggested it for two reasons: I hadnít been there in a long time and I needed a break from the flip-flopping between my two cities. I wanted to go someplace where I could prepare myself for the New Year. I love Florence and Paris and am stimulated by them, but itís always nice to experience a different place. In that way, Iím able to keep myself open and more flexible for the arrival of 2015. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - A jaunt to Venice before the year ended

A year of introspection

Friday, December 26, 2014

This has been a year of introspection for me. I didnít write as much as I wouldíve liked for both of my blogs. Looking back, I realize now that I needed some time to reassess what I wanted to focus on for each blog. Iíve decided to separate my two blogs even more. My Living in Florence blog will be only about Florence and in this blog I will write more about being an expat. Read More>>

Celebrating ten years in Florence

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When I returned to Florence ten years ago today I wasnít certain that I would stay as long as I have. In my heart, I knew I didnít want to never leave, but I couldnít make such decisions alone. After my five-year hiatus in the US, I arrived in Florence accompanied by my then husband. I had never moved anywhere with anyone and I didnít know how the move would affect us. Over time, my life in Florence became more important to me than anything or anyone else. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Celebrating ten years in Florence

Living out my emotions

Saturday, November 15, 2014

One of the reasons I feel in my element in Florence is that it is where I can freely live out my emotions. When I was growing up, I was taught to show only ďpositiveĒ emotions (and not too much of them either) and hide all the ďnegativeĒ ones. I learned at a young age that no one wanted to see me angry or sad. All the ďnegativeĒ emotions I had were to be lived out privately and more specifically when I was by alone. Read More>>

Waiting for autumn to arrive

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Autumn should have arrived a few weeks ago in both Florence and Paris. When I was in Florence for the past two weeks, the trees still had green leaves on them and only a few had changed colors and had fallen to the ground. I was hopeful to find autumn in full swing. Initially, it was more of an Indian summer. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Waiting for autumn to arrive

Running along the Arno before taking off

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Today was my last day in Florence and I began it with a run along the Arno. During my stay home, I headed up to the Piazzale Michelangiolo for each of my morning runs. However, because it was a little chillier than it has been, I decided to stick to the centro (downtown area). When I arrived at the end of Ponte alle Grazie, I turned right and headed toward the Ponte Vecchio, which looked like it was lit up by the sun that was just coming up. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Running along the Arno before taking off

Pausing to savor the moment

Monday, October 27, 2014

I was almost not going to go running during my stay in Florence because I had forgotten my iPod in France. At first, I was upset with myself because I hate forgetting things. Then, I realized that I could take my iPhone with me, which has all my music on it. I had only run with my iPhone on vacation, but I didnít realize how this change would end up being so rewarding. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Pausing to savor the moment

I love being an expat

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I love being an expat so much that I canít imagine not being one. I love how two cities that were foreign to me and have now become so familiar to me that I consider them home. I love how living overseas has opened me up, changed me, allowed me to grow, and stretched me to be who I was born to be. I love how I have learned to look past the surface. I love how I see people for who they are and not what they do. I love how communicating with someone doesnít involve only the words he/she says. Read More>>

Juggling French and Italian

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before returning to Paris for work almost four years ago, I kept my French in my back pocket. I pulled it out when I needed it, but kept Italian as my ďmainĒ foreign language for over 10 years. Nowadays, I have to juggle both French and Italian, and on a daily basis. I speak to my beau and my colleagues in French, I speak to my friends in Florence in Italian, and I write in English. It might not sound that difficult, but being fluent in two foreign languages is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. It takes concentration, effort, and a bit of fumbling around. Read More>>

Starting off my year in Porto

Friday, October 10, 2014

As an expat, I think I travel a little differently than others. Not the actual traveling process, but the getting acquainted with the new place. I look at the place Iím visiting as if I were planning on living there. When I visit places in the countries I know well, like the US, Italy, and France, I want to understand other facets to them. However, when I travel to a new place, Iím eager to find out about the placeís core: the cityís energy, the people, the language and the culture. Itís almost as if Iím interviewing the city to decide if I want to live there even though Iím certainly not looking to live somewhere else. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Starting off my year in Porto

Porto, here I come!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today I'm excited to be traveling to a city (and country) I've never been to. Portugal has always seemed like a faraway land for me even though it's less than two hours away by plane. It's thrilling for me to discover Porto, Portugal and get a peek into this city's culture. I'm looking forward to being to exploring and experiencing Porto. I hope to lose myself for a few days and enjoy this city's energy. Read More>>

Embracing Florence and Paris

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

One of the most common questions Iím asked after I explain where I live is, ďArenít you going to eventually just pick one place?Ē The oddest part is that Iím never prepared for the question and rarely have a good answer. Iím usually surprised because I didnít know that I was supposed to pick just one place. I usually try to explain that I didnít plan my life to be split between two cities, but I do enjoy it. Read More>>

Adjusting to the rhythm

Saturday, September 27, 2014

As I continue to split my life between Florence and a Parisian suburb, I have realized that when I arrive home I have to adjust to the rhythm of each city. It took me some time to find my balance between the two cities and now that I have all of my essentials in both homes, I travel rather lightly only bringing certain things to each home that I like. With a flight is only an hour and a half long, it should be easy for me to adjust. However, I always find myself stumbling a little when I return to France. Read More>>

Living my dream

Friday, September 26, 2014

During my run yesterday, many thoughts came to mind about my life in Florence and a Parisian suburb. When I talk to my friends, I understand that it looks like a dream to be living between two different countries and be able to speak both Italian and French fluently. I didnít get to this point in a day; it took many years of persevering. I remember when I was in my university library studying for my French literature class and how all I dreamed about was living in France. In my early twenties, I wouldíve been content waiting tables or working in a bookshop just to live in France. Fortunately, I got a hired by a French software company that sent me to Paris. France drew me into its web after I stayed with two different French families (one month each) right after graduating high school. Florence, on the other hand, called to me after only spending three days in its embrace. Read More>>

Experiencing and cherishing beauty

Monday, September 15, 2014

For me, beauty can be transmitted through photos and words, but the feelings that bubble up inside of you when you experience beauty are personal and powerful. Even though I live in Florence and just outside of Paris, I am exposed to a lot of beauty. I am very sensitive to my surroundings and crave beauty because it inspires me, emotionally moves me, and touches me deeply. Read More>>
My Heart in Two Places - Experiencing and cherishing beauty

Basking in Florenceís energy

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I plan out my weekends in Florence like most people plan out their vacations. I make mental lists of what I want to see, eat, and visit. The past couple of days, Iíve only been able to go out for brief periods of time due to my work obligations. At night, however, Iíve been walking around the piazze and streets to reacquaint myself with my beloved cityís energy. Read More>>

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expatriate Travel Blogs Expats Blog

About My Heart in Two Places

This blog is about my life as a double expat in both Paris and Florence. My expat life is not just about juggling two languages and cultures, but also adapting to two distinct ways of life.

About the author


Melinda Gallo is a writer and blogger who is now a double expat, living in both Florence and Paris. In her other blog, Living in Florence, she writes about living in her beloved city where she has lived since 2004.

Recent posts from
Living in Florence blog

Here are a few recent posts from my Living in Florence blog.

Living in Florence - Chasing sunsets and finding peace
Chasing sunsets and finding peace
Saturday, July 11, 2015

Living in Florence - Sunrise stroll along the Arno
Sunrise stroll along the Arno
Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blogs I Enjoy

Arzigogolare

Lost in Cheeseland

Chez Loulou

Bleeding Espresso

Married to Italy

...and a few other expat blogs


expatarrivals

tips for living abroad