Bear in UnderwearHi! My name’s Garrett.

Welcome to Change of Underwear!

I’m an American guy who has been living outside the good ol’ USA for quite some time now. I love sharing my experiences and stories, and basically just like being “on stage” and the center of attention, so …

This blog is all about my life as an expat, living in the world.

First stop: Galway, Ireland. This is what really kicked off my whole thing for living in other countries and experiencing different cultures. I was fresh out of college and ready to keep the party going. The fact that I was working in a restaurant/bar that transformed into an early evening lounge and then a late night dance club was a blessing and a curse. I had loads of laughs and the craic was always high, but after 8 months, it was time to give my liver a rest and move on to the next adventure. While important and formative, Change of Underwear doesn’t really focus on Ireland. It was too long ago from when I started this blog (and thus began crafting my senses to gather up good stories, facts, and observations for you) and I really did party my ass off a bit too much in those days to remember too many details.

This blog focuses on the second and third stop on my international life journey.

Second stop: Italy. This chapter of my life started as a year-long experience to get to know Italy better, and turned into something decidedly more long-term. All in all, between Bologna and Milan, I spent a bit more that 7 and a half years in the bel paese. I made great friends, learned a new language, ate tons of good food, and fell in love. Italy was a really special part of my life and I have nothing but fond memories of it. It’s a crazy, emotional, and often disorganized country, but that’s really part of the charm. There is nothing like Italy!

Third stop: Zurich, Switzerland. This is where I’m writing to you guys from now. I’ve been in der Schweiz since April 2013 and can already comfortably call this place home (at least for now). I’ve met cool people from all over the world here and the job market is refreshingly healthy. I can breathe easier in Switzerland – from a financial sense and a literal, clean air, mountainy and treeish sense. I still have lots to see and learn about this amazing country and you guys get to be there for it!

I’m excited to see what life has in store for me next. And as I go down this unpredictable, sometimes difficult, but always beautiful path, I’ll be sure to keep my iPhone handy to snap a picture or jot down a blog entry idea to share with you guys.

Thanks for reading and make sure you’ve got a fresh pair of underwear along for the ride … you never know!


61 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m so glad I came across your blog today! I’m laughing my butt off…yes, you are quite the comical one!

    I’m hoping to learn, as well as laugh, from your blog. I’ll be asking you lots of questions soon (if that is okay with you?!) as I am an American Airlines flight attendant and am looking to spend much more time in Italy in 2011 and will be looking for a room/studio to rent and am clueless! Trying to do some research on rentals, but everything seems to be for expats (not part-timers as I will be) or for holiday travelers.

    Blessings to you!


      • Thanks for the quick reply!

        I would prefer to be in or near Piacenza, somewhere that is convenient to catch the train to Milano Malpensa. I plan on spending a minimum of 7-10 each month there. Some months, I will spend even more time there…depending on how I can work my schedule. (I’m going to attempt 2 weeks on/2 weeks off) That’s why I am thinking it would be more convenient to rent a place rather than get a hotel each time! We bid our schedules monthly, so nothing is ever the same. We have flight attendants who commute from all over the world, I know I can do it…just have to get my bearings so to speak! lol

        Thanks for any input!

      • Well, I think that your options are either:

        An expat-type rental (obviously, you’ll be paying rent on the apartment whether you are there or not…) The plus is that you can leave whatever you want there when you are travelling for work. Italians typically have certian “rules” for rental contracts regarding the length of time (but Italians are also notorious for not respecting the rules). I would get in touch with renters and agencies in the area you want and explain your situation. Even if in writing (on the website) it says that the apartment is for long-term rental, you can probably get something more flexible worked out (or have a long term contract anyway, that has a short (one month or so) notice period for you to get out of it). Also, I’m not sure if you speak Italian or not, but there is a better chance that agencies dealing with expats speak English and will be able to provide you legal rental contracts in English as well.

        The other option is to find a sort of holiday rental option that is kind of like a hotel (with all apartments more or less the same, linen service, front desk, etc.) but they usually have more space, seperate bedroom and living room and your own kitchenette, etc.). This option is also heavly used by expats (even ones coming to Italy to work just for a few months) and should present no linguistic problems. This website is an example of on option in Milan: http://www.halldis.com/city/milan/milan_apartment/130?gclid=CK3lh8DToaYCFUYifAodmBQfjg

        I don’t know Piacenza that well, but these options certianly exist in Milan.

        The important thing is to remember that Italy is a lot more “well, we’re not supposed to… but we can anyway” than America is, so don’t get discouraged by red tape!

  2. Pingback: My blog – 2010 in review « A Change Of Underwear

  3. Hey stumbled on your blog through a google search about carnevale treats haha! Im living and working in Milan right now as well! you still here? ciao!

    • Hi Monica! I sure am still in Milano. Want proof? Today it’s raining and there is Carnevale confetti all over the street.

      How could I possibly know that if I wasn’t still in Milano? 😉

  4. Hi Garrett,

    I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch. I found your details on your blog and I hope you might be able to help me with my strange request…

    I am a Producer working on a television show called House Hunters International which follows English speaking expats in their quest to purchase a house abroad. I wonder if you or any of your expat contacts might be interested in getting involved?! Please find a little blurb about the show below:

    House Hunters International is a half-hour program currently airing on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV) in America.
    The series is designed to de-mystify the international home-buying process by going behind the scenes of a house hunt where buyers and their real estate agents tour 3 homes.

    At its core, House Hunters International is a travel show concentrating on the idiosyncrasies of the locales and what makes them special and different.

    You can watch some examples of the show here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh0Q6DYe3QM – London from South Africa (1600 series) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLmhKEzm5kg – Dubai from Illinois (2000 series)

    Please get in touch if you have any more questions about the show. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Best wishes and many thanks,


    Michelle James
    1-3 St Peter’s Street, London N1 8JD – +44 20 7704 3300

  5. We are going to tear the sh*t up when we get there… just get ready…

    Please do International House Hunters… I love that show.

      • Hi Garrett,

        I guess you are currently renting then? Do get in touch if you are thinking of buying a property at any point, would be fun to work with you!

        Best, Michelle

      • Thanks Michelle!

        Yes, I am DEFINITELY still renting! The job/housing market in Italy makes it real hard for young people to buy thier own place (though we are working on it). Plus, even if we WERE ready to buy, it would definitely be an apartment, and not a house. Do you guys also have International Apartment Hunters? 😉

  6. Hey Garret, I enjoy the blog. I wish I had the nerve to do what you did. I’m an older guy now, married and still think about moving somewhere. My question to you is are there any Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Italy? Whenever the wife and I travel I go to a local meeting. 12 countries thus far. Thanks for the reply.


  7. Hi Garret!

    Just came across your blog and interview on BlogExpat and have subscribed already! Look forward to reading (and laughing) more!


  8. Hi Garrett! I’ve been living in Italy for almost 3 years! I keep saying “this will be my last year”, and, I don’t know why, I just can’t set a definite date! So, I totally understand your “boh” (which by the way, is one of my favorite Italian words).

  9. Hi Garrett–

    Your family’s Christmas letter gave the address of your blog — fun & quirky!

    Sheila McGuinness
    (your Dad’s first cousin on the other side!)

  10. Love your translation of “boh” 🙂
    I am italian but work in an english speaking environment and it’s hard sometimes to translate certain expressions (not to mention the way we move our hands when we speak and what it means). Great blog, glad I found it!

  11. Hey Garrett,

    I love your blog. My in-laws are Italian and you have “decoded” some of their behavior for me!

    Just wondering if you could recommend the best way for me to teach both myself and my 5-yr old son Italian. There are so many programs out there, it’s hard to know where to start…

    Grazie! Kristin

    • Ciao Kristin!

      So glad you’ve found my blog useful!

      As far as learning Italian goes, the best way is moving to Italy, like I did! But, if you can’t do that…

      I am not too sure on study at home courses, though I have heard that Rosetta Stone is good (though I believe it’s only for adults). If your son is 5, then that should be a perfect age for him to start picking up Italian! Young children learn foreign languages much faster because for them it’s a “game” and they aren’t afraid of sounding silly if they make a mistake or can’t properly explain themselves (adults have much more pride about these things!)

      I think the best thing to do (especially if you are starting at the beginning like your son is) is to get children’s books/videos, make a game of it, and have fun learning together!

  12. Hi Garret, nice to “meet” you 🙂 .
    Thanks for your blog, perhaps it will be “la volta buona” that I improve my English!
    have a nice day, full of snow (if you are still in Milan!)

    • Ciao Francesca! Thanks for stopping by! I know some Italians who want to improve their English. I often direct them to my blog too!

      Yes, I’m still in Milan and it’s VERY snowy here (but pretty too!)

  13. I just watched your vids this morning. Wow! You’re amazingly funny. I’m a English learner so your vids are very useful for me. Thank you very much and I’m looking forward to your new vids.

  14. Hey Garrett. I saw your note about your site in EasyMilano today and you’ve prompted me to follow in your footsteps and do the same. 🙂 Enjoyed your site and had a good laugh-we’ve written about similar topics which one can only conclude that italian stereo types are true! 🙂 Will keep coming back here-keep up the writing! Cheers.

  15. Bello questo blog! La citta’ di Milano e’ bellissima! I look forward to reading about your adventures. Grazie! 🙂

  16. Hi there Gareth, I just found your blog and liked your style. I just find similarities, ’cause I’m Polish living in UK since 6 years now, and everyday I find new differences between “them” and “us”. take care!

  17. Hi! I’ve been following you for a while and I just wanna to say I really like your blog!
    It’s very interesting and enlightening to read about your culture through someone else eyes, and doing it while burst out laughing it is even better!! 😀
    You have no idea how many time, while reading your posts, I said “my God, are we Italians really like that? bwahahahah”. Now, having in mind your words, when I see tourist around the city center I wonder how strange they see Italy and Italians XD

  18. Hi Garrett –

    It has been quite some time so I’ll forgive you if you’ve totally forgotten……….however………it’s Mollie, you’re old American from your days in Galway! Funny, but I was looking through old Ireland pictures the other day and you were in a few, which left me wandering how you are and what’s happening in your life. So, I did what any clueless person does…….I googled you! That’s what led me here and smiling from ear to ear as I read your funny and brilliant blog. So happy for your adventure turned home in Italy. That is fabulous and I’m so happy to hear all is well:) Now that I know where to find you, I’ll be sure to follow your adventures and learn a little something myself!

    Cheers, like!

    • Hi Mollie! So glad you found me! How have you been?

      Of course I remember you! We went to The Cranberries concert together in Belfast! How could I forget?

      I’m happy you enjoyed my blog and definitely stay tuned for more. I’m going to go see if I can find you on Facebook now.


  19. Hi Garrett! I’m searching for apartments/roommates in Milan but don’t know where to look — I’ve tried easystanza but most of the listings are in Italian, and craigslist is a bit sketch…are there any English sites the Anglo expats in Milan use? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Ciao!

      Honestly, I was going to suggest EasyStanza… That seems to be the best bet. Maybe just put the ad in Google Translate to better understand…

      I know there are many American expat communities around Italy that all have their own websites and stuff, but I was never very active in that circle…

  20. Hey Garrett! Love your blog.

    I got into school at the University of Bari. Do you have any advice for moving across the world? (I’m from California.)

    Also I have a friend interesting in moving to Italy as well. How did you go about finding a job and getting a work permit? BTW we don’t speak Italian…. yet. That’s sort of the issue for my friend. Thank god my classes are in English.

    • Hi Tammie. Thanks a lot! Glad you found it!

      My tip for moving across the world: be flexible. Don’t expect things to always happen in the way that you are used to. Things you might take for granted in California will be turned upside down in Italy. But this is part of the adventure and fun! Just really go with the flow!

      That also leads me to the next point about your friend that is looking for work in Italy. If he or she wants to teach English (and has a TEFL certificate or something like that) then the best advice is just to move to Italy. Figure out the rest when you get there. Italians are a little less “rule following” than we Americans are. With some patience and a little luck, jobs can come about – even in unconventional ways.

  21. You are hilarious and I really enjoyed reading about your experiences in Italy! After spending 7 months in Florence last year, coming back to Chicago I couldn’t stop thinking about Italy. That dam fatal charm! I am now on my new venture in 2 weeks to Milan, traveling solo, knowing no one and going to embark on the glorious job of teaching English. Woohoo! Your blog will be a great resource to help me get acquainted to this new city and read about your new adventures, too. Cheers!

  22. Hey Garrett! I’m moving totally for much of the same reasons that u did. My father is from rome and I’m a citizen. I feel so connected to the culture and I’m looking to move to Milano in April. Do u have any job hunting tips? I think there will be more opportunities there than in Rome. I speak 5 languages btw!

    • Ciao! I hope your move went well! My tip would be “it’s much easier to search for a job when you are already in the country”, which I believe you already are. Your 5 languages should be a help! Make sure you highlight that on your CV! Good luck and benvenuta!

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