Let’s start with what I did to integrate myself. When I arrived in Paris, the city was not new to me, I had visited it several times before and my sister was living here. However, the decision to leave my country for a non defined period of time – three years now- had a strong impact on me.
As you decide to stay in a new place and to study its language…this implies, from my point of view, what I did for one year and half: to avoid to spend time with Italians in order to immerse myself totally in what can mean being French. I met some french guys and started to go out with them to know better the new cultural and social context in which I was living and also to learn the new language. They are now good friends of mine and they had the patience to stay with me and listen to me even when I did not know much of french. So, my first adaption, that I did with pleasure, was to leave the idea that when you go to a foreign country, you have to bring your way of thinking to the hosting people. I chose that I was the one that had to get into their world…going out at the beginning only with french…and also going out alone debunking the myth that big cities are made of persons that do not communicate to each others. For me Paris, differently from what the stereotypes say, it’s not like this. I met my friend in a bar in which I went alone, we chatted and then we started to go out.
The least pleasant part is about the stereotypes that being Italian carries around Europe. For the ones living abroad, making efforts to be themselves in a place where they were not born, these stereotypes have a weight.
What changed? The positive thing for someone that migrated is to go out from its previous context of the real, you become a new person while still holding on to yourself. I believe that when you’re abroad, slowly, you are always into a formative process.
Adaptation in the sense that you test your possibilities.
For example at work I have a colleague born in France from Chinese parents who does not consider himself French, for me it is paradoxical. You lived for forty years in a state, and you don’t feel part of that nation.
The integration must to take place in both the two parts involved, and this is the fight that some of the persons that lived abroad commit themselves..perhaps even without knowing it or unconsciously..in a night with friends from different nationalities.
I recently spoke with a French friend of mine and I told her that after three years, I feel that there were certain things that was right from me to adapt to, but there are others that I can never tolerate for those that are my principles.
I had an episode in which I think I was fired because one of my colleagues was not inclined to have Italians, Greeks, Spanish or southern Europeans working with him.
I moved from a town to a big city..the time..how you perceive time..when you move you think time in a different way, it acquires a new importance, it goes faster because you get involve in more activities.
I think adaptation is to consider a different dimension of time.