Last weekend marked exactly one year since I left New York to move to Milano. This weekend, though, I’m celebrating the first birthday of Diary of a Duel Citizen!
When I first studied in Rome seven (?!) years ago, I toyed with the idea of starting a blog to document my four months abroad. I ultimately decided to forgo the blog route, and–instead–transform a marble notebook into my tangible travel diary. I wrote everything in there–from the Roman history I had learned in class that day and the wine I had enjoyed later that night, to my first trip to a European country outside of Italy and the beginnings of a budding romance. As the semester flew by, my daily entries eventually became weekly… then fortnightly… then whenever I simply had the time.
Although I wish I had been more consistent with my writing, that notebook remains one of my most prized possessions to date. I took and shared hundreds of photos/videos during that semester, but those reflections and revelations in that notebook–those were just for me.
At the end of 2017, when I finally received my Italian passport, I decided that I wanted to give the whole blogging thing another shot once I arrived in Italy. Even though I ended up choosing a name of which the first word is–in fact–‘diary’, this project was mainly born as a creative outlet for myself, designed without a clear plan or purpose. I even changed my Instagram name to reflect that of my site. I could have just been fine with IG, but my captions would have been entirely too long.
But what about the site? Would it be a travel or lifestyle blog? Would I write also in Italian? Would I add a section for my then-English teaching plans?
I truly had no idea. All I knew was that I loved to write, and that the inspiration would strike once I became settled in. Looking back at some of my writing (both on here and IG) throughout the past year, I did dive into some personal matters at times. However, since I still value the sanctity of privacy in this seemingly show-and-tell world we live in, there’s a lot that I wasn’t (and still am not) willing to share.
I’m actually not even sure if, one year later, I’ve yet landed on a direction for DoDC….. but I prefer it this way. I love having a space where I can purge all my thoughts about different topics I find intriguing, infuriating, or even inspiring about my two countries. Or where I can share tips and tricks for fellow or future expats/immigrants. Or where I can write about where to find the best gelato in Milano.
Regarding blog viewership and traffic, I honestly don’t pay as much attention to it as I should. In the beginning I did, but then I’d feel discouraged and wondered if it was even worth continuing to post when I’d see low numbers week after week. Then, I quickly ordered myself to snap the f*ck out of it and remembered why I started this all in the first place. Of course, engagement is important; but, if I measured my success in mere likes, clicks and views…. I definitely wouldn’t be typing this right now.
Instead, I measure my success based on how many posts I’ve written this year (25!!). On their depth and range. On the evolution of my writing style. On how I haven’t given up, despite the frequent writer’s block and temporary lack of motivation.
Another wonderful thing about having started DoDC are the connections made with people from all over the world. Exchanging stories and experiences with fellow expats who share both my struggles and joys has been a relief. In the past year, I’ve come across current expats in Italy, those whom wish to move to Italy and those whom once lived in Italy. I also follow Italian expats in the States, American expats in Australia and Australian expats in Italy!
Diary of a Duel Citizen has also offered a glimpse into my life here for my loved ones back home. Whether it’s through my blog posts or Instagram captions/stories, feeling close to family and friends when we’re thousands of miles away is such a blessing, despite how much I tend to complain about technology.
All in all, it’s been a good first year. Have I decided on a specific direction for the blog yet? Not quite. Will I ever? Not sure. Will I continue to write because I genuinely enjoy it? Without a doubt 🙂