Challenges of Expats – Interview with Cristina Caroli
My mission is to inspire people, by speaking and writing, but also by interviewing expats. Living abroad is such a change, which can be fun and scary at the same time.
I publish these interviews, revealing personal stories, tips and advice, from expats to you.
Enjoy this month’s story from Cristina.
Original country: Italy
Expat countries France/The Netherlands
Current country: The Netherlands
Who is Cris -I am from the north of Italy. I am Italian/ French nearly 30 years. Single 😉
I moved 1st to south Holland in 2013 for few months and then I moved to north Holland in Amsterdam in 2014. I currently live in Amsterdam city. I work in a company (the company have languages schools abroad).
My hobbies are reading, walking, explore the city, museum, discovering the best cafeterias in town ;), climbing, meditation & esoteric arts and few more.
Why your choice of your current country: love of the surroundings (canals, awesome light in the sky, ducks, windmills, Dutch houses) ..it is crazy..I know. But I love it. Despite that, because here I can have a job easily and in Italy the situation is horrible.
Biggest challenges: adapting myself to certain things. Renounce to my freedom many times. Being away from my old parents and my dog. Do not having my kitchen to cook in peace 😉
One Overcoming fear: Doing things (have a coffee, visiting spots etc) by myself (it is not common in Italy doing these things by yourself) & say goodbye to friends. The fear to be ‘alone again’ once they were moving away.
Now I am the one who is leaving from Amsterdam and moving abroad (in my case I will soon go back to Italy); to friends, I may look like I am not sad to leave this new friendship…but this is my way to show to myself that I learnt to do not get affectionate a lot to people.
People come and go..as anything in this life. Any experience is a journey with a start and an end
Did you integrate and adjust smoothly? What went well and what was hard?
Yes I did. But it was hard at the beginning when people looked at you like a ‘poor expat’ and not everyone was nice. Once I start to communicate in Dutch, locals were giving me plenty of compliments and smile to me…
Never had any specific problem to adjust to their culture …but I still don’t understand the way they accept everything so easily. For example, I notice in daily life that they don’t take any position if they don’t agree or don’t like something.. they just let it go. Or, when it’s raining and your son comes back totally wet because he did not cover himself enough: it is ok. It is cold and I get sick? It is ok. Someone argues with me? It is ok . I saw it a lot of times and I’m just giving some easy examples. The point is that (maybe because I have Italian- latin blood.. ehhe) I will never share their way to face life-no sharpness at all! At the begin I loved this way to be so chilled out but now I have changed my mind 😉 This is of course my personal opinion based of my ‘short’ experience here.
Ah…food &weather = I cannot do it anymore! (Even If I am half Italian and half French & I come from one of the most rainy city in Italy!).
Where you find inspiration from: I still don ‘t know exactly 😉 The fact to wake up every day in this beautiful city and knowing how lucky I am. Me, myself and I are my source of inspiration 😉
What is your current job: I work in a leader company (EF-Education First) as a call center agent (Better saying that it is the upper level of a classic call center)
Was it difficult to start your job in a foreign country? Not at all. As I studied in the tourism field and speak several languages finding a job was always quite easy. I have been unlucky because every new job I had…something went wrong after a while and I had to look for another job again and again (it happened many times)
How you stay motivated: .Treating myself as much as I can. Taking my time to enjoy the little things: take my time to have a walk at the park, enjoy a coffee in a new cafeteria, have a chat with a friend, look around me and feeling full of joy .
Useful tools/resources for expats: Facebooks groups, website to meet and doing activities with other expats.Local expats center.
What are your words of Wisdom: When I talk to my friends they are shocked how open and positive minded I became (I always been an old soul, pretty sharp edged, and a bit of a smart devil as a kid) Since I moved here I started to give advices about life in general and how to face things in this city..Because I have been through the same things (often a bit more problematic)..I know how to respond to these things in order to live here without a lot of struggle.
‘Remember that everything in life is just an experience and it has a begin as it has an end, so let it all go, do your best..forget everything else and breath.
As long as you are alive and your soul is in your body…everything will be alright.’ ‘Be kind BUT don’t be fool’
What is the worst that happened to you as an expat?
Feeling a prisoner in my ‘own’ house. Living in a really small place with people I didn’t choose. Feeling bounded once I am home. Can’t cook, enjoy, move, pee…freely.
Not having a job or a house to go from one moment to the other. It is scaring. As meeting weird people too, or living with them. I have been twice in serious danger.
I moved 11 times in 8 months. I slept anywhere (on the floor, kitchen, with people I didn’t know etc)..they said in Vondel park was forbidden to stay..so I had to go anywhere.
Being sexually harassed (me and my flat mate) by our landlord and after one night when things went really bad we escaped with the police from his house. Here’s just one of many examples:
Once I lived in a nice house, where I could stay for 1 month.I was so happy..except the fact that I was not allowed to have any MEN over (my boyfriend). The landlady, a young girl about my age was living downstairs and she was totally weird. She would check every movement I made: arriving in the house at 7 am with some excuses, she was forcing me to be her friend, she was forcing me to live with 10 degrees in the house in December. I had insects in my kitchen everywhere and she did nothing. One day I arrived and I saw all my things moved from their regular spot and she was in my house cleaning for NO reasons while I was out. Touching my personal things.
Long story short, at the very end, after I locked (by mistake) myself out, she did not a want to open the door of the building..I had to go to the police and when she found out she started to cry and scream and telling me to move the same night after work.
So I moved, and arrived at a place with drug addicts so I had to escape again. Then, I arrived in a house with a friend of mine, but that landlord was the one harassing us. We called the police and were able to leave….again.
Even if it looks like a movie (at least for me and the people I know..these things have been crazy…) It has been my ‘not very fortunate’ story and If I look back I really ask to myself: How did I do this?
Of course, if someone reads these words can only have a vague idea of what happened.. but living it ..…it has been quite scary! I swear.
What is a misunderstanding that happened to you as an expat? When I had my schedule reduced from 40 to 3 hours per week after a stupid mistake I did (ridiculous) who has been totally misunderstood by the ‘big boss’. I lost the job of my dream. In that moment being strong was not enough…when people do not know you they are able to believe anything even if you are pure as a crystal rock.
Your Plans for the future: RELAX and MEDITATION.
Eating good food and stay next to my parents and my dog. Get a therapist and cure my insomnia which I cannot control anymore. One day (hope pretty soon) living abroad again 😉 but for a shorter period than 3 years. Or finding a good job in Italy and just travel (utopia…;))
Final words or anything else you wish to share: Keep remembering the reason why you moved abroad. Think about it every time you want to give up.
For me, the moment I started to feel less connected with the life I was living in the former country…I realized that I was READY to start my life abroad.
Please tell us your important TIP(s) when moving to a new country:
- Remember that any country is awesome when you travel; you have that sort of excitement we all know & you see only the pretty sides of anything. But living is totally different.
- Be open as much as you can & adaptable/ Do not judge, most of the things will be pretty different from what you are used to .
- Organize your money
- Set a GOAL ..so, no matter will happen, you will repeat to yourself ‘ you survived ‘till now…do not give up..’ and do it until you reach your goal.
- BE STRONG. If you are not sure how strong you are….make the 1st step and get out of your comfort zone…you will getting stronger day by day.
- AH…enjoy as much as you can the surrounding, the society, the new people, the new things you will discover everyday 😉
Thank you very much!
Interviewed by Rachel Smets
Who is Rachel:
Rachel is Author, Speaker and Lecturer.
My Bestseller: “Awaken Your Confidence: 15 People Share Their Journey to Success”, available on Amazon.
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If you want to make a change in your life, it’s never too late.