26 August 2016

Nicoletta Giorgi - Expat in California, USA

Nicoletta Giorgi - Expat in California, USA

We’ve had the chance to talk to Nicoletta Giorgi, 50, an Italian expat who has moved to California with her husband. Mrs. Giorgi who has been living there for 18 months, now works as an Italian teacher.

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.

 

Q: Where are you originally from?

A: Italy

 

Q: What made you move out of Italy?

A: My husband`s work

 

Q: Where are you living now?

A: Silicon Valley, California

 

Q: How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Silicon Valley is one of the best countries in the world for High Tech professionals.

 

Q: How long have you been living in California?  

A: 18 months

 

Q: What has been the most difficult experience you've had when you were new in California?

A: Finding a job: I`m still looking for it. I was told that I would have found a job easily. This is no longer true: I`m still looking for a good position after more than a year. This is a very difficult thing to accept for a person who has been working for all her life: being a housewife could be very depressing. Even if Silicon Valley offers a lot, in terms of volunteering, educational and recreational opportunities, the lack of a professional life can be very discouraging and demotivating.

 

Q: Would you say that formalities like getting visas or work permits and international health insurance were particularly difficult in your host country? What was your experience with these?

A: My husband`s company provided legal assistance for visa and work permits.

 

Q: Are you living alone or with your family?

A: With my family

 

Q: How are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: I relocate with my 3 kids: the most difficult thing has probably been having them set in school: American school system is completely different from the Italian ones. They spent months at home, doing nothing and feeling extremely lonely and homesick, and, of course, they considered us responsible for their unhappiness!

 

Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialize with other expats in California? How did you manage to find a social circle in California?

A: Even if there are plenty of opportunities to meet each other, making friends has been pretty difficult for everybody: the American way to socialize is completely different from ours. The Americans join to do something together, like a bbq or hiking, but after that, nothing! When the first activity is over, they jump into another activity, where they meet other people who will never become their close friends but whom they could spend a nice time with.

We had to learn all different social rules. It has been particularly difficult for my children who had to learn the new language at the same time. We actually socialize mainly with other Italian expats, whom I met through Facebook (both personal and community pages) and who share our own habits and schedules. My younger children, instead, mostly befriend their classmates: but it took them a long time and a hard work to get involved!

 

Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Anything to recommend to future expats?

A: Silicon Valley is full of activities and events: from educational to sport, art, theatres and music, etc. For those, like us, who come from a warm Southern European country, the fact of not having a place to stroll around, or to hang out during the warm evenings, is pretty upsetting. The ocean is too cold to swim and the evenings too cold to stay outside. It took us a long time to figure out what to do in our free time. I would definitely suggest starting immediately to reorganize one`s own schedule and look for activities available in the area: there are lots of newspapers listing events, and everything is possible!!

 

Q: How does the cost of living in California compared to your home?

A: Prices of goods and groceries, in general, are approximately the same as in my country. Instead, housing, labor (such as house cleaning services and contractors) and health care can be extremely expensive in Silicon Valley. Health care, in particular, is free in Europe: a health insurance is compulsory in the USA and can be extremely costly. On the contrary, electricity, gasoline and gas are incredibly less expensive.

 

Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: The Americans are generally very friendly, but their relations are usually very superficial. People are generally very polite with each other, they say hello and acknowledge your presence very easily, but it is very difficult to become familiar with them.  Being a very erratic people, they organize their lives doing a lot of different activities (opportunities, as they name them). They know they may move to another place in a very short time, and this prevents them from developing deep relationships easily.

The Americans have very strong social rules, which they follow rigidly. This rigidity may be interpreted as a lack of mental elasticity by people with a different culture. In reality, communities are the American equivalent of family circles in other cultures, and the Americans respect them and serve them at their best.

 

Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in California?

A: Positive:

  1. Open-mindedness: learn a new language and a new culture is one of the best gifts we could give ourselves and our children! It gives us the opportunity to choose our own values and habits!
  2. New opportunities: both professional and cultural opportunities available. Silicon Valley is really an amazing place for this: anyone who has a nice idea can actually implement it! Anything you`d like to do is potentially possible in here!
  3. Meeting new people and creating new relations, also learning a new way to be with people.

 Negative:

  1. I regret my children will never learn all about our wonderful Italian culture
  2. No matter what, you will always be a foreigner!! The new language will never be your own language, and there will always be something you will not understand completely! And you`ll soon become a foreigner in your own country, too! Because life won`t stop overseas, either!
  3. Of course, I miss my family and friends!

 

Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes?

A: Yes, of course, I do!

 

Q: How do you cope with homesickness?

A: I try to keep constantly in touch with my family and friends in Italy: social networks are a very good resource for this. And then I try to go back home at least once a year. I also have friends coming to visit.

 

Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: I think I`ll go back to Italy, particularly if I can`t find a job in a very short time.

 

Q: What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

A: My work and my children`s difficulties.

 

Q: What tips can you give other expats living in that country?

A: When in Rome do as the Romans do: try to look and learn from native people or from expats who have been around for a longer time. Stop thinking as an expat! You chose to leave your country: just stick to this decision!

 

Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about California?

Life in the Bay, of course!!