Chicago family's move to Milan featured on HGTV's House Hunters International
Friday, December 14, 2012
For those of us who are completely addicted to HGTV shows, House Hunters International is a way to escape the Windy City and dream of travels abroad.
But for one Chicago family, the show became a reality. Jennifer Anton, Clinton Bartman and their daughter Vivien moved to Milan to return to Jennifer's Italian roots.
We spoke with Jennifer about the move, their appearance on the show and what they miss the most about Chicago.
You can see the Anton family's episode tonight on HGTV at 10:30 p.m..
Chicago Parent: How did you get set up with House Hunters International to be featured on the show?
Jennifer Anton: After seeing the Chicago Parent article I wrote about international travel and children and reading my ChicagoNow blog announcing our move to Milan, the team in London called and said "It would be brilliant to film your move to Milan." They were very sweet and professional and excited about where we were coming from (the beautiful city of Chicago) and the city we were heading to (the fashionable city of Milan).
CP: Were you a fan of the show before?
J: Yes, we always loved the show and watched it before bed in Chicago often. We certainly lived vicariously through the people on the show as they moved around the world. And with having the same wanderlust as many of those people, it was just completely addictive. We definitely never imagined seeing ourselves on the show.
Q: How is the family adjusting to life in Milan? Is it what you expected?
J: It's been an amazing experience in these 5 months and we have all adjusted surprisingly easily to live in Milan. In many ways, it's like Chicago - It's a city with warm people, interesting architecture, amazing museums, theater and lots of neighborhoods which each have there own personality.
Living here has been better than we expected. We walked into a bit of the unknown as we left Chicago which we loved so much and it has exceeded all our expectations. One thing I didn't expect that has really helped is how much Italians love Americans and vice versa. There is a mutual appreciation and respect for our differences. Italians view and admire Americans as being hard working, focused, and visionaries who achieve their dreams and Americans love and as Americans we have learned to really admire the love of life, living in the moment and taking time for important things like family, personal style and food. These things are at the top of all Italians priorities Especially in Milano.
Q: How is Vivien adjusting? Does she speak Italian?
J: Vivien has adjusted smoothly. She attended the Lycee Francais International school in Chicago and it was an easy transition to make friends and continue the curriculum at the Lycee Francais here. Since she is already fluent in French, learning Italian has come much easier for her. She has Italian lessons 3 days a week. I have to admit, I'm jealous of how easy it is for kids to pick up languages. I've been studying for 1 year 1/2 and I still find it difficult to understand everything.
Q: How is parenting in Milan different than parenting in America? Has your routine changed?
J: Parenting in Milan is no different than parenting in America. The differences are more about parenting what is now a 3rd culture kid. Since Vivien is American and growing up in another country, she is surrounded by a different culture which is becoming her new "normal".
As far as culture, we are learning to continue our American traditions but add in new ones from Italy. Vivien lost her 2nd tooth in Milan and instead of the tooth fairy coming, Piccolo Nino, the little mouse came. It was fun for her learn new traditions and it also makes her realize that different cultures have unique and great ways of doing things.
We want to make sure that she stays connected to her family, friends and culture back home to. Thanks to Facebook and Skype, we have been able to keep relationships and facetime with friends and family.
Q: What is a challenge you've faced since moving?
J: The biggest challenges have been learning the language. It's all around, but if Italians hear an American accent, they take their chance to practice their English and also try to accomodate us. It's nice, but it makes it harder for us to learn and breaks up the full immersion. We are on Google Translate all the time!
Q: What has been a pleasant surprise since the move?
J: How close everything in Europe is! We have popped around by train to Cannes, France, Genoa, Verona, Lake Como and Tuscany and we leave in the morning and get there by lunch. It's surreal and wonderful! With the lowcost flight options in Europe, we also look forward to popping around Europe for very little.
Q: What do you miss about Chicago?
Chicago will always be the greatest city in the world to us and it will always be home. We miss the Joffrey Ballet, our friends and family, the lake and the Chicago skyline. At the same time, we are so involved at immersing ourselves here, we don't really think about Chicago or long for it quite yet. However, we are going to be home for Christmas and we plan to have a night out and soak it in before we head back to Europe.