Coming to America: Giulia

dsc_0002

Place of Origin: Merate, Italy

When did you move to America?

I came to America on August 5th, 2013. Right after I finished high school.

What’s the one thing you miss the most in Italy?

I miss the way of life and my family. Even though things are changing, in Italy, people still pay attention to having a balanced life. People still cook with good quality food, they walk a lot, they simply enjoy hanging out in a park or on a bench in the main square. The contact with nature in most of the country is still very important. Moreover, my entire family is still there: my mom, dad, sister, niece, brother, everyone! During holidays and festivities is when I miss them the most, but I also miss even just having a good chat with my sister on a regular day.

What were some challenges, if any, that you faced?

My family’s disapproval. I was in the country completely alone and I was lacking of their support.They were not thrilled of the fact that I was going to leave for the U.S. for an entire year, and when I extended for an additional 12 months they were very upset.

What’s the one thing you like the most about America?

I like the intercultural exchange the most. I love that I can meet people from all over the world, get to know their stories and their culture, and, if I’m lucky, a little bit of their language. I think it makes me richer as a person and teaches me on so many different levels. I also like that, at least in my experience, everyone seems approachable. For example, if you are introduced to a person that has quite an important job or is a “big shot,” and you later send them an email, you have pretty good chances that they answer. It does not really work like that in Italy.

What do you dislike the most about America?

I don’t like the falsity with which people tell you, you have all the opportunities in front of you. I have been looking, and it has not been easy, especially for an immigrant, to see all the opportunities they are talking about. The American dream is just a dream, unless you have a couple of degrees, no students loans, and quite some money already. There are opportunities if you are willing to work for free mostly. Sometimes I really understand why people decide to come here illegally or just work under the table. Sometimes it is the only way you can have some of those opportunities.
 
Due to your situation, if you had the choice, would you rather live in America or Italy?
 
I think I will want to live in Italy, and this is why I think I am moving back. I just enjoy the lifestyle better there. Also, for me to get another visa or to start the application for the green card costs just way too much money. I do not have the resources now to stay here.

Blended: Ace

dsc_0005

What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

My dad is Filipino, Italian, and German but was born in America. My mom is from the Philippines.

Did you have any struggles growing up mixed race, such as any internal or external issues?

I feel tied to the Filipino culture but not fully connected to it. I have always wanted to learn the language but because I was born here it was hard for me to have the opportunity to learn it.
Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

I actually refer to myself as an American. Although I am very proud to be Filipino I feel my roots are very grounded in this country. I speak English, I eat more of the foods from this country, and am more exposed to its culture and history. When it comes to my values I guess I could say I am a little more reserved and find more influence from the Filipino culture and even Italian.

Do you feel like you’re part of one ethnic group more than the other?

I actually find myself more connected to the Italian culture right now, mainly because I am more involved in it. Speaking the language, knowing the culture, and knowing more of its history makes me feel as if it is more a part of me. I think the language is what makes me feel more of a connection to it. When I was younger I really wanted to learn Tagalog, the Filipino language, but unfortunately I was rejected from the language. Not purposely, but because I was born in America and it was easier for my mom to teach me English and apply it.

Italian however, I had a more welcoming introduction and find myself more surrounded by those who are Italian and who speak it. In a sense that gave me a sort of community. I will always consider Filipino as a part of me, and I do have many friends and those who I am close to who are Filipino. But I feel there is a bit of a distance between me and being Filipino.

Do you feel, or have you felt, like you didn’t belong to either one of your ethnic groups?

I feel tied to being Filipino but not connected to it.

 

Coming to America: Marta

Marta_GB

Place of Origin: Verona, Italy

When did you come to America and why?

“2002 in June, my father works for the U.S. government and was transferred to the U.S. he works with sports for children, but also adults. So, his contract expired in Italy and needed a renewal so he took a job in New York. My father moved in 6 months before my whole family did and we lived with my grandmother. She left us the house after she passed away.”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“Yes and no, because there were Americans in Italy on the base I lived on. I had experience with American culture and I celebrated American holidays. It was more adapting to the language than the culture. My spelling would always be wrong, because in Italian you spell things the way you would say it. I was in ESL more for the grammar and spelling. And sometimes, even now, words for objects come to me in Italian first instead of English.”

What do you like most about America?

“There is so much to see and its so accessible. The food, the diversity of it, and how accessible they are because Italian markets are hardly open. They take un aperitivo [breakfast], then they have the siesta, they take a nap, and then they have to go for a passeggiata [go for a walk]; I’m surprised they’re even open [laughs].”

What don’t you like about living in America?

“It’s expensive and there’s a lot of people, at least in New Jersey, we’re very densely populated. And going for walks isn’t easy because you can’t take a stroll to the park or go in piazza [public squares and market places in Italy] to meet your friends because everything is so far away. From where I used to live everything was so close and of walking distance you could even take public transportation, which isn’t bad, and you have more of a chance to be social.”

Coming to America: Jonssen

Jonssen_GB

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.”