Sunday, January 26, 2014

What italian emigrants do

Recently an italian newspaper hosted a debate about what italian emigrants do.
According to Matteo Cavezzali, who lives in Italy:
1. They go out only with other Italians.
2. They know everything about italian politics, especially about Berlusconi, even if they emigrated because they were sick of him.
3. They miss the italian sun, because they live in cold and gray countries, but they don’t want to admit it.
4. They eat bad, they look for good italian restaurants but they cannot find one.
5. They have jobs that in Italy they would have never accepted.
6. They cheat (e.g., don’t pay the bus ticket) and they forget to pay taxes.
7. They dislike going back to Italy, even for a short trip, because they feel superior.

The reply by Andrea D’Addio, who lives in Berlin, was:
1. They do not wash their car because they use public transportations or their bike.
2. They miss the sun and they do poor jobs, but the working conditions are much better than in Italy and they can pay for luxury vacations in sunny countries.
3. They generally eat at home, cooking by themselves, but they also try exotic restaurants.
4. They go out mostly with other Italians, but they work in an international environment. Their friends are true friends and the nationality doesn’t matter.
5. They try to build their own family because the host nation helps families, although the salaries might be not that high.
6. They follow the italian politics because they care about their country. When they are asked about Berlusconi, they want to give a good answer.
7. They don't envy who remained in Italy. They know how difficult is leaving friends, family and country for going in a hostile place, so they hope one day to go back to Italy.
Ovviamente non possiedo alcun diritto sull'immagine. Italia, è questo che pensi di noi?
Somehow Matteo and Andrea are both right.
- I go out with other Italians but also with international colleagues. My friends are from different nationalities.
- I always read the italian news, but also those of host country. News are filtered before being published abroad, I can have a different point of view than while I was in Italy. I’m sick of questions about B., I don’t have an answer.
- In Brussels I don’t cook at home as often as I was used to do in Vienna, but I still cook when I invite friends to my place for a dinner. Many other (not only) Italians do the same. I must admit, I like enjoying a restaurant sometimes. I try italian restaurants (often suggested by Belgians) but I prefer local restaurants or very exotic ones. During my stay in Japan, I didn’t miss the italian food, I loved eating japanese, even when I didn’t know what I had in the dish.
- Honestly, I never complain for the temperature. I don’t miss the “italian sun” because I grew up in a foggy and gray part of Italy. I like even the rain. Probably I’m the only Italian who says that.
- I was lucky, I got the job I like, with a position consistent with my qualification. Other italians weren’t that lucky, unfortunately, but the foreign governments usually help unemployed people.
- I’ve always payed my duties, in Italy and abroad. The honesty was part of my education, if italians behave bad, they should blame their parents.
- I dislike going to Italy because I feel bad for my country. The comparison with other countries is sad, the solution to many problems is much closer then expected… if only we would be able to look to the problem from another point of view

Disclaimer: I might have misinterpreted Matteo and Andrea's opinion in the attempt to translate. This is my interpretation of what they have written.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Christmas-vacation tales

Although I’m clearly not skilled in foreign languages, I try to do my best. I’m not even perfect in Italian, which is my mother language. I have the feeling that even my English is worsening since I moved to Brussels, but now I’m able to say a couple of sentences also in bad French and Dutch. Thus, I’ll keep writing in English, because this is a way to practice and because I believe the content is more important than the syntax. Well, who cares of a personal blog? Me. That’s enough.

In 2014 I celebrate some important anniversaries:
- 15 yrs from my high school diploma
- 10 yrs from my Ms in Geological Science
- 10 yrs since I moved to live by my own
- 6 years from the publication of my first scientific paper
- 5 yrs from my first overseas flight (to San Francisco)
- 5 years from my PhD

As 10 yrs ago
As usual, I've spent a couple of weeks in my hometown. This year, as previously, I’ve organized a dinner with my university mates. Although some of them couldn’t join us, we were 12, with at least half of us at “home” only for Christmas, after having migrated abroad for a job. Only a few of us still work in Italy, but almost all were able to stay in the field.
This dinner was as entertaining and funny as 10 yrs ago. During the dinner we planned the next meeting, possibly in summer, to celebrate 10 yrs from graduation with a whole weekend together, included a field trip on "our" mountains. Can't wait!

No snow…
My wish was enjoying a white Christmas in the mountains, but... Despite the weather forecast had called heavy snowstorms, in our area we didn’t see a single snowflake! Only rain or thick clouds. Although I like the rain and I love the cold air above 1000 m a.s.l., I couldn’t cope that sad atmosphere longer than a couple of days, so I asked my parents to go back to the foggy and warm plain. Nevertheless, it has snowed in other areas of the Italian Alps, causing an electrical black out that lasted more than four days. That’s Italy. Back to 100 yrs ago in a minute. What a time machine!

… no party
I was used to spend the New Year’s Eve with some friends from the Conservatorium, at my place or at a cellist’s place, having a lot of fun playing music together and baking italian traditional food. Not this year. Perhaps because I’ve lived abroad too long. Also the President, in his New Year's Eve speech has forgotten all the Italians living abroad. Are we still italian?
Anyway, this year I’ve spent the New Year’s Eve at home, watching an old movie, playing cards, sleeping, etc. as an old spinster. Not because I stayed at home, but because there wasn't a partner next to me. This year less noise came from my neighbors, maybe less money to waste and sadder mood, what is called crisis.

Chatting with old friends
Obviously I worked while at home, I played a lot as well, both organ and piano. But this is has been also the time for meeting people I see once a year or that I didn’t see for years. This is like meeting the past and making a comparison with what we have become in the meantime. Am I really different?

The first meeting was a dinner with my former organ teacher. Every meeting with him is a great experience, his knowledge about music is enormous, as well as his humility. Great musicians like him are quite rare. Although I had met him in october in Germany, this dinner gave me the chance to meet also his family and a close friend (and very promising musician, too), who is studying in Vienna. The result was a delicious dinner, for the food, the atmosphere and the culture. The second meeting was with my friend cellist. We played together many times, after only a single rehearsal we were ready for a concert, with an incredible harmony. Nevertheless, we are quite different and when we tried to spend together some days of vacation we almost broke out. We had a nice dinner with other friends, playing and chatting until 2 am. As usual.

The third meeting was with mates, who I didn’t see since the primary school. Actually we met sometimes on the train to Padova during the university years and we keep in touch with Fb. We talked of the current situation of Italy but also of other topics, remembering our old schoolmates. The fourth meeting was with a geology professor, with whom a project is going on. That has been a successful meeting:paper organized, interesting information and hints also for other current projects acquired, news about the recent changes in the recruiting system of italian universities… digested. As Tomasi di Lampedusa said: “Changing things so everything stays the same.” There are no hopes, I could never go back to Italy for my job.

Belgian routine
As soon as I landed, I fell in the usual rush. Hyper-busy with my job but also looking again for a new apartment  This is why this post is to late. Let’s hope that this time I’ll have better luck with the flat. Happy New Year!


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