2555 days in Ireland. 7 years. They are not a few so it’s time to reflect.
The 30th of January of 7 years ago I was on a flight to Dublin with some savings, 2 suitcases, and 3
booked on-site interviews. I think I had savings for maximum 4/5 months after which I would have returned home.
The memory of that day is still vivid in my mind, having to say hello to everybody, Katiuscia’s face, and the understanding that things ahead would have been pretty though.
Fortunately everything went fine and I got a good job in 2 weeks.
A lot of things happened in these 7 years: Katiuscia decided to take a big leap of faith and moved here 6 months after, it wasn’t an easy decision for her. We made new friends and we left others a bit behind. I married her, I nailed a wonderful job at Facebook 3 years after arriving here, and I now have a wonderful daughter.
There were a few challenges that I had to overcome and different ways of doing things that I needed to embrace/accept, some problems I had back then seem stupid now but some others are still with me today.
First of all the language barrier, moving to a place which doesn’t speak your natural tongue when you have little exposure to it is difficult. You cannot compare the experience to one of an english speaker who moves to Australia, US or wherever people talk english. Things are much more difficult for non natural english speakers.
Cultural differences are wider and the language barrier doesn’t help.
I only had technical english skills and I remember the frustration trying to have random conversations on non technical topics due to my lack of vocabulary. In addition to that I practically had no previous speaking experience. The first 4 to 6 months were full of headaches both at work and outside of the office. Breaking the ice was difficult but it is much better now.
I remember the first washing machine cycle, looking for an apartment, having to make phone calls and being very nervous about it (will you understand the thick accent on the other side? will they understand what you have to say?)
Then you have the problem of having to cook for yourself something remotely resembling what you are used to back home (I didn’t have free canteens at work back then :P). I never really seriously cooked for myself routinely before and I had to learn it all on my own here, eventually discovering my passion for good food and cooking.
Living away from your own family is hard. Leaving them behind feels like an egoist action but technology helped. Emigrating changes you, it changes the perception you have of the world, you learn to appreciate the good things your home country has to offer but the outsider position you have gained also allows you to start taking a more objective opinion about it.
Occasionally when you go back home you’ll have to face the opinions of who remained and tells you that emigrating is easy and act of coward and the real heroes are those who remain (!!).
You always go back to your home country with nostalgia about the good old days but you realize that the place as you remember has changed, people have gone somewhere else, and the relationship with others have faded. Nothing is like what it used to be before, neither worse or better, just different. You see your parents changing a bit every time you come back and you feel sorry that you can’t always be there when they need it.
Going back home sometimes feels like a cultural shock: you struggle for Italian words sometimes; you hit someone in the supermarket and say “sorry” automatically getting weird looks from who you just hit.
You think about what your life would be now if you didn’t take that leap of faith: would you be married? unemployed? happier? saddest? Did you do the right thing? Will you ever go back? And the more time passes the more you realize that you’ll probably never go back, that you are in a limbo. Feeling a little bit a stranger in both nations.
Then a kid arrives into your life, you feel the urge of making sure her future is safe and that you can give her the best possible options, you feel the need of making sure that she gets exposure to your own culture too and that she understands where you come from. But in the same time you want to make sure that she integrates well with the rest of the people here. A thousands thoughts will pass thru your mind like the worry that she will not want to talk Italian and therefore will be unable to talk to the rest of the people back in Italy.
I suppose this is what is called adulthood.
While I think about all these worries I still think that I would make my leap of faith 1000 times if I had the possibility to go back in time.
I’m excited and worried at the same time about what the future will bring, but I know one thing for sure, that I’m a lucky guy that can take care about himself and my ladies and that once you set roots somewhere and overcome all those fears you can do anything in your life as long as you commit to it.