Last Thursday (March 17th), Italy commemorated the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification with an extraordinary national holiday. Though it was important to remember the goal achieved, we cannot hide the bittersweet flavor of the celebration, considering all the Italian young people forced to leave their country in order to find study/work opportunities suitable for their qualifications.
We asked three expats to talk about their condition of being Italians abroad: here are the answers we received.
Filippo, PhD student in Mathematical Finance @London School of Economics, London
After two and a half years abroad, I definitely miss my country. The food, the sun, mum and girlfriend are what everybody misses – me too, but I have to confess that living here helped me to find a little patriotic fire I never felt before. I love Italy from the Alps to Sicily, with all its nuances, maybe because I do not live there or maybe because it is just a gorgeous country. I miss soccer, pizza, my language. Yes, I do miss the language of my education. I am aware of our problems and of how difficult it is to solve them - mafia, our politicians, the lack of civic-mindedness but it won’t help to grieve over our sorrows and somehow we need to start facing them.
Unfortunately I was forced to leave my country, because when I was 24 I wanted to aim as high as possible and, working in the finance field, it was inevitable to move to London. The Italian volume of business is just ridiculous, so that I could not find any suitable opportunity for my background. Taking into consideration the low salaries and the nonexistent meritocracy, it is clear that young people have only a few reasons to stay.
Nevertheless, I do plan to go back as soon as I gain enough experience here. I would like to learn how to work at the highest standards as regards the field I am interested in and then bring this know-how to Italy. This might be the only way to contribute to Italy’s progress in my own small way. And I want my children to grow up breathing the culture of the best country in the world.
Giulia, researcher @École Normale Superieure, Paris
I left my country for study and research reasons – I hope only on a temporary basis. After a Master degree, especially in the humanities field, it is really difficult to find a good position in Italy, I mean something similar to our dreams and ambitions: that is why I am here, in Paris. But I always want to go back at some point, because I miss everything about Italy, from my beloved ones to the daily cappuccino…
Francesco, intern @Italian Mission to UN – Legal section, New York
I came to New York to gain a high level work experience. I will go back to Italy, for sure. But how long will I stay in my country again? I don’t know. I am not a supporter of the idea of going abroad at any price, but no doubts for certain valuable opportunities.
I miss Italy, for a lot of aspects, even blasé ones such as food, the quality of life, little daily things I grew up with and so difficult to give up, but at this moment other criteria are the relevant ones to make a choice. What I found here is an organized, civil world, light-years ahead of Italy. A job culture we don’t know. Young people are enhanced, well paid, given responsibilities from the start. Here you have a choice of opportunities, you just need to seize the day.
My ideal plan would be to start my career here, with a good job chance in a law firm, in order to gain experience and knowledge while receiving a proper salary at the same time. Then, in four/five years, once I get a significant position, I would like to go back to Italy to take advantage of what I will have learned by then.
As regards the Italian Unification, I did not feel like celebrating that much. I do not like these occasions when everybody remembers to be Italian just for one day: they show the flag, they sing the national anthem and the next day everything is over. Now I live in the patriotic country par excellence, where you can see stars and stripes everywhere. The Americans may be exaggerating, sometimes they even degenerate into glorification, but somehow I admire them, because they put their national pride in all the things they do, in their respect for institutions and rules, in their job, in their will to enhance what they have. We could be as they are, and not only on March 17th, 2011.