Coming to America: Carlo

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Place of Origin: Milan, Italy

Where are you from?

“I was originally born in Milan, Italy. I came to the United States when I was 3 years old. I grew up in predominately-Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. I attended school there until my sophomore year of high school. I then moved to Florida with my godparents because it gave me the opportunity to play baseball year round. After High school stayed in Florida, I went on to play college baseball and then played minor league baseball. All together, I lived there for 8 years then came back to NY.”

What do you like the most about America?

“I guess the freedoms you have here … uh… I also like football, I like the sports that they have [laughs] No seriously, I like that you have a mixture of different cultures, especially in the north east, where you have the opportunity to experience these different cultures. A little different from other countries including Italy. You have a great diversity of people and culture here in America. I like the fact that it’s a melting pot and you have the freedom to do whatever you want and be whatever you want with hard work.”

What do you hate the most about America?

“What do I hate? Politics. Politics suck everywhere. It’s not any worse than Italy, Italy has far worse problems in regards to politics and the political system that is broken. I don’t like how much it has become ‘I’m on the left side’, ‘I’m on the right side’, and we can’t come together, and compromise on what is best for the people of this country instead of the special interest groups. I’m hoping that changes soon.”

What are some challenges you faced growing up?

“I didn’t really have many challenges that I faced growing up. I mean we came here when I was very young. My parents spoke English and so did I, my dad was actually here for a job, he’s was in banking, and he worked in banking in Italy and they asked him to come here on a three year contract but they then decided to stay. I feel that I am more America than Italian.”

Did you have problems adapting to the culture?

“I think since we had moved to Brooklyn, where just about everyone was of Italian descent or practically right off the boat, it made things easier. Again I was very young but I’m sure it was more difficult for my parents. For me it was just very easy to ‘mesh’. Everybody came from the same background, I had many things in common with people around me, my parents spoke Italian and English, and everybody in my neighborhood spoke English or Italian so that helped. So I didn’t really have many challenges adapting. I can’t complain, my parents worked hard and provided us with whatever they could, it wasn’t a lot, but we were happy with what we had. I had a great childhood. Sometimes I feel like we get away from that happiness of the simply things in life – instead we want more, more, and more things – When is ‘too much’ too much?”

Would you ever move back to Italy with your family?

“Absolutely, I just love the Italian culture, architecture, the warmth of the people, and of course the food. My whole extended family is there. My brothers, sister and parents are the only relative I have in America. I’m one of 6 kids. I would definitely move back and I would take my parents with me… [Laughs] ‘Cause they probably wouldn’t like it if I moved back there, they would miss us. My daughter is four and I plan to try to take her to Italy every summer to visit. Even though, right now, she does not want to speak Italian. She tells me, ‘I wanna speak Spanish’ and I’m like, ‘really? why?’ and she says, ‘Cause I love Dora and Diego’ come on seriously!? I’m Italian and has the opportunity to learn to speak Italian’. I try to speak to her but she just does not want to learn yet. I will have to keep trying.

It is funny thing in my family, there are six of us siblings and none of us speaks Italian to each other, we all speak English when we are together. That is just the way we grew up. Nevertheless, when we are around my parents, we speak only to them in Italian, within the same conversation my siblings will speak to each other in English. We have this awkward thing where we do not speak Italian to each other. Seems awkward to me now. We are so used to speaking English to each other. Must be that when we were young, my parents wanted us to speak English to assimilate better and wanted us to speak as much English as she could at home. She didn’t want us to fall behind and it helped out a lot, I guess.”

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Coming to America: Serena

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Translated by me.

Place of origin: Milan, Italy

When did you come to America and why?

“I came here in February of last year, but I had come here previously  at the age of 18 with intentions of learning English at an international school in the state of New York. Above all, I came here for the practicality of leaning English and secondly due to a love story (moved in with husband). Therefore, a little bit of both [laughs].”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“Yea… really really hard. It’s not like adapt in terms of language. It’s really hard, the language, especially when you can’t express yourself and people don’t understand you. In Italy we’re taught English at a vry young age, but it’s textbook English, and when you face reality it’s a problem. The other problem, in my opinion, in adapting is tied with the diverse way of thinking and even at the religious level. Also, well, it’s not really home here but this place will definitely be my home for the future, but it’s still not home. I just still don’t feel like it’s my home. I live with my husband, but obviously I don’t have anyone close . And with friends, in my opinion, it’s a lot harder to make friends here. They [Americans] have different type pf relationships, for them making friends is like more for self benefit, I’m not really sure how to say it, but like there are motives behind it. Instead, in Italy, you’re friends with someone because we want to know each other and we want to go out for a beer or something.”

What do you like most about America?

“From what I see, there’s more respect between people and the integration of different cultures, because in Italy there still isn’t. Like how you’re Italian, he’s German, and he has Arabic origins etc., there’s just this fantastic ‘melting pot’. And of course work, there’s certainly more opportunities for younger people. Also, the level of scientific research and the available funds for scientific research or for other projects.”

What don’t you like about America?

“This is hard… What don’t I like about America? I don’t like that it’s not like my home, it’s not like Italy. But sometimes  I think in my hometown in Italy, ‘why isn’t Italy like this?’. But  I mean , there isn’t really something that I don’t like [thinking], well maybe the idea of patriotism here that there is a lot of pride and like the unity of the flag and ‘nation-state’ pushing the identity of America like ‘we are a single nation’ or ‘we are the best’ but in reality like how is it possible that you are the best? That can’t be. Another thing is that people easily have guns and I feel very afraid how everyone has guns because anyone can just take out a gun and shoot you for no reason. It’s funny how attached they are to their guns!”

Coming to America: Jonssen

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Place of origin: Cebu City, Philippines

When did you move to America and why?

“Around 2003 and 2004, My mom was offered a better job so she moved to in 2000 and my older sister and dad followed. I wanted to be with my family so I moved to America too and then later my three other siblings came. My family wanted a better quality of life. My parents wanted to give us a better chance to succeed because the majority of people in the Philippines live in poverty.”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“English was the hardest part. I felt very self conscious about my accent, I got teased a lot, and I felt weird about having an accent. I would try using TV lingo — thinking about it now it didn’t make sense in the context I used them in. I would say “radical” a lot and I would always use “totally” randomly. Also, a few culture shocks for me were when I noticed people didn’t take their shoes off in their homes, when kids called their parents by their first name, how disrespectful they were to their elders by talking back and not listening. ”

What do you like most about America?

“The girls are so hot…[Laughs] And the fact that I feel very safe here. I don’t have to worry about anything and It’s also easier for my family to feel at ease that we’re safe. And the opportunities here are great and you have a better chance to succeed.”

What don’t you like about living in America?

“Definitely the rudeness, compared to the Philippines everyone there is so nice considering they don’t have much. Sometimes I feel like people here think they’re better than everyone else.”

Summer In My Native Country

I was born in Brescia, Italy, it’s a small town that is just two hours away from Milan. When I was eight years old I moved to America with my mother and I’ve visited Italy every summer. Except when I went during the summer of 2013, it was the first time I went back to Brescia in three years! I wasn’t able to go because I had started college and I was taking classes during the summer.

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I was so excited when we landed (my cousin from my mother’s side joined me on the trip) we were picking up our luggage and my heart was beating with excitement. I knew once we went out, I would finally get to see my family again (from my father’s side).DSC_0006This is the view from the terrace of my grandmother’s villa. She lives on part of the mountain and it’s a beautiful view of part of Brescia. It was just like how I remembered it; peaceful. I know it was only three years, but it felt longer. I felt as if I had a better appreciation for its beauty and natural-ness.DSC_0008

This view is from the back of the villa.DSC_0050We also went to Brescia’s Piazza del Duomo (which has the famous Duomo Vecchio). This Picture shows a white garage door and a brown door and it’s where my grandmother and grandfather owned their jewelry store (It’s right in front of the famous dome). They named it “Berios” and they also made and sold watches. But around 2010 they moved to a new place and my aunt ran the store, but last year they closed the business. I remember being in the store, the one picture above, when I was about 5 years old. I would draw or play games while my family did business. It wasn’t until now that I realized how historic this place really is. More information about Piazza del Duomo  Click Here 

DSC_0076This isn’t from the same place as the previous picture, but it just amazes me how a town, a village, a country, and  the world can still contain artifacts and architectures from so long ago. It’s so amazing how much history there is even in the most unknown places. (That’s my cousin in the above picture)DSC_0039Even this little graffiti I spotted must have a story.