Brexit per italiani – seconda puntata

Ciao a tutti!!

Mi scuso per i pochi aggiornamenti dal precedente post, ma pure io ho passato l’ultimo mese in completa confusione come milioni di altri britannici e non. Anche se al momento ci sono ancora poche cose che sembrano accuratamente definite riguardo al gran casino chiamato ‘Brexit’, però sicuramente si può cominciare a lavorare verso il futuro.

Mi sono decisa a scrivere un nuovo articolo dopo aver attestato la totale mancanza di messaggi, annunci, articoli (tranne i soliti a sfondo politico!) e pure un solo piccione viaggiatore da parte italiana. Le autorità italiane ‘ci’ hanno completamente dimenticato, a parte nell’incontro di ieri tra Renzi e il primo ministro inglese Theresa May. Un fatto che è stato ribadito da May a Renzi ieri è che NON ci sono assicurazioni di nessuna sorta per i cittadini italiani (o EU, in generale). http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/693875/Brexit-Italy-prime-minister-Matteo-Renzi-talks-Rome-Theresa-May-EU-referendum-EU-nationals

Questo lo voglio sottoscrivere poiché, dopo aver letto qualche commento online di italiani su forums o social media, pare non essere entrato nella testa di nessuno. Vediamo se viene capito da tutti se lo scrivo in lettere maiuscole e in grassetto:

NESSUNO HA MAI GUARANTITO CHE I CITTADINI EUROPEI SONO DESTINATI A RIMANERE IN UK DOPO BREXIT.

Mi sembra inutile ribadirlo ma … “EU citizens” include i cittadini italiani! Quindi nessuno vi sta guarantendo da parte del governo inglese che dobbiate rimanere. La May, al di là di quel che si dice, è abbastanza convinta che un Brexit ci sarà. Senza andare in analisi disfattiste senza senso stile sceneggiata melodrammatica all’italiana, molto più semplicemente prendete le dovute precauzioni per non farvi trovare impreparati, simple as that.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 5 ANNI (e meno di 6) in UK con contratto permanente

Fatevi la Permanent Card. Costa 65 sterline, quindi non è la fine del mondo spendere una cifra modica per mettervi al sicuro da eventuali ‘sviste’ xenofobe del governo. La Permanent Card (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-document-certifying-permanent-residence-or-permanent-residence-card-form-eea-pr) serve a definire il vostro stato di cittadino europeo perché il governo inglese a Ottobre 2015 ha ratificato che i cittadini EU devono esercitare i diritti di residenza permanente tramite l’appartenenza all’EEA/EU facendo appunto tale carta. Non farla adesso è sciocco o vi potreste trovare a far inutili file quando Brexit verrà ratificato o addirittura quando l’art. 50 viene invocato. Ho visto qualcuno dire che è bene fare anche l’iscrizione AIRE. A parte il fatto che l’ho fatta subito 7 anni fa, comunque farla vi mette al riparo da eventuali multe da parte dell’Agenzia dell’Entrate quando l’Home Office britannico incrocerà i documenti con quelli in possesso dell’ambasciata italiana. Non interferisce con la Permanent Card però, perché ai fini della PR vale solo il vostro periodo lavorativo; se eravate senza lavoro dovete dimostrare che avevate abbastanza fondi per mantenervi da soli.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 6 ANNI in UK con contratto permanente

Potete farvi la cittadinanza britannica. Al di là del costo (esorbitante), se avete dei risparmi per farlo e avete anche i requisiti richiesti, FATELA. Ciò vi mette al riparo da eventuali brutte sorprese future e non vi fa neppure perdere la cittadinanza italiana. Vi ricordo che gli accordi tra le due nazioni in materia di cittadinanza non hanno nessuna attinenza con l’EU e quindi la ‘dual citizenship’ rimarrà in vigore, Brexit o non-Brexit. Una postilla: dovete obbligatoriamente fare anche la Permanent Card per chiedere la cittadinanza, più Life in the UK test e test in inglese approvato dall’Home Office. Se siete laureati in Italia o altrove e avete traduzione del Naric, c’è una casistica diversa. È scritto nei guide & the booklet for naturalisation. Per entrambi potete fare il download dal sito governativo.

  • LAVORATORI DA MENO DI 5 ANNI, con o senza contratto permanente

Questa è la categoria più incerta da definire. Non ci sono documenti che attestino la vostra permanenza qui, escluso quelli lavorativi chiaramente. Se siete qui da almeno tre anni, aspettate 2 anni e fatevi la permanent card. Se siete qui da meno di 3 anni, sarete un po’ in balia del vento e di ciò che viene stabilito negli accordi…. Accordi che sono avvolti nella nebbia al momento.

  • STUDENTI UNIVERSITARI che hanno già iniziato un corso di laurea

E’ un problemone. Perché’ zitto zitto il governo britannico ha istituito anche una Permanent Card per studenti EU che sono iscritti all’università in UK. È OBBLIGATORIO avere l’assistenza sanitaria privata se non avete mai lavorato su territorio UK e siete segnati solo come studenti. (http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/home-office-what-happens-to-eu-international-students-in-uk-after-brexit-a7132631.html ). Se non l’avete e pensavate che automaticamente eravate nell’NHS, beh sbagliato… Se siete ancora segnati all’ASL italiana e pensavate che ciò bastasse per garantirvi qualcos’altro oltre che i servizi di emergenza, beh sbagliato… Insomma, questa è stata una poco-pubblicizzata pugnalata alla schiena per tutti gli studenti. L’SFE (Student Finance England) pure garantisce i fondi per le tuition fees solo fino al compimento dell’anno universitario 2017/2018 per i cittadini EU. Io sono addirittura nel loophole di tale legge, perché sono sposata a un cittadino britannico il cui lavoro provvede assistenza sanitaria privata che copre pure me. Peccato che i cittadini britannici non sono compresi nella lista di chi può essere sponsor di uno studente EU!!! Quindi personalmente ho solo opzione di diventare cittadina britannica ma cosa succede a chi l’opzione non ce l’ha?

  • STUDENTI e LAVORATORI CHE SONO IN CORSO DI TRASFERIMENTO

Se non avete già in mano un contratto permanente con almeno 20-25,000 sterline lorde all’anno… scusate ma chi ve lo fa fare?? Perché’ la burocrazia italiana sembrerà un giochetto in confronto alla babele di documenti che dovrete presentare qui in UK da ora in poi. Non molto dissimile dai visti australiani, canadesi e statunitensi, VERO. Ma preparatevi a ciò da qui in avanti perché il Brexit è stato deciso in modo esponenziale dal voto che riguarda il fattore immigrazione dall’Europa. Questi controlli fanno felici i locali, che non vogliono essere invasi da gente non qualificata che (secondo loro) uccide il mercato del lavoro per i locali.

Se avete bisogno di ulteriori informazioni, commentate sotto l’articolo e provvederò un indirizzo email 🙂

Alla prossima,

Merlin

Naturalizzarsi come cittadini britannici

Update: questo post e’ stato aggiornato dopo Brexit, avvenuto il 23 Giugno 2016

Naturalizzarsi come cittadino di un altro stato è un passo importante che molti decidono di fare. La scelta di affrontare l’iter burocratico del processo di naturalizzazione può essere dovuta a molte ragioni. Per alcuni che sono costretti a chiedere un visto di lavoro o residenza, ciò può anche essere un modo per avere la vita più semplice, dato che quando si è cittadini non si ha bisogno di affrontare l’iter di immigrazione. Comunque, per un cittadino dell’unione europea che vive in un altro stato europeo, naturalizzarsi può avere un significato differente perché i cittadini europei non hanno bisogno di nessun visto per rimanere, vivere o lavorare in uno degli stati parte dell’Unione Europea.

Una parte importante del processo è di tenere a mente che non tutte le nazioni richiedono di perdere la propria cittadinanza di nascita per acquisire quella nuova. Il Regno Unito è uno di quegli stati che ha un accordo bilaterale con l’Italia per la doppia cittadinanza. Infatti, quando diventerò una cittadina britannica, non dovrò lasciare automaticamente la cittadinanza italiana. Per tutti quelli che mi hanno seguito fino ad adesso, beh… sapete perfettamente che il fatto di perderla non mi irriterebbe affatto, comunque il governo italiano richiede una procedura ufficiale e dispendiosa per la rinuncia alla cittadinanza italiana e mi sembra, a questo punto, uno spreco di soldi farlo. Questo va ad aggiungersi al fatto che la naturalizzazione britannica è incredibilmente costosa e ogni anno il costo per averla cresce, il prezzo da pagare al momento per la pratica è intorno alle 1.100 sterline e non c’è rimborso in caso la pratica venga rifiutata.

Prima di tutto, come si sa se si è in possesso dei requisiti per richiedere la cittadinanza britannica? Sono necessari 5 anni di residenza (più un altro, non sono sicura perché venga richiesto) senza molte interruzioni, perché i giorni che si possono passare all’estero hanno un limite. Secondo, due referenze sono necessarie e una dev’essere rilasciata da una persona che è in una categoria ‘importante’ e che vi conosca personalmente e continuativamente da tre anni (la lista è sul sito del governo britannico ed è una lunga lista di professioni, in gran parte laureati o nel campo religioso). Sono la moglie di un cittadino britannico ma alla fine non significa niente, perché accorcia solo il periodo di residenza da 5+1 a 3 anni, una cosa che per me è ugualmente inutile perché sono da quasi 7 anni nel Regno Unito. Per far progredire la propria richiesta di naturalizzazione è pure necessario passare un test chiamato ‘Life in the UK’ and un test in lingua inglese a uno dei centri approvati dall’Home Office. Il test in inglese non è richiesto nel caso vi siate laureati nel Regno Unito in un corso di laurea insegnato in inglese.

Perché fare la richiesta? Perché se ci si sente ‘a casa’ in una nazione, è naturale che si voglia anche far parte della vita politica e essere considerati esattamente come tutti gli altri che sono nati lì. Lo so che l’ultima parte non dovrebbe essere un problema ma in realtà negli anni che ho passato qui ho constatato che non avere la cittadinanza in alcuni casi complica la vita. In Inghilterra bisogna essere cittadini britannici per votare alle elezioni parlamentari; in più, la famosa uscita dall’UE della Gran Bretagna e’ avvenuta contro tutte le previsioni e avere la cittadinanza britannica vi farebbe dormire sonni tranquilli. Inoltre, da sposata ho cambiato cognome: nel Regno Unito cambiare nome o cognome non è un problema, non è dispendioso ed è facile, ma il governo italiano NON permette il cambio di nome e cognome se non in casi eccezionali. Trovo questa legge completamente stupida ma non posso far niente al proposito, a parte mettere via in un cassetto tutti i documenti italiani e in futuro usare quelli britannici per viaggiare. Infine, nella mia situazione particolare tutto torna, dato che mi sento già britannica e naturalizzarsi è solo un passo per confermare ciò.

E non ultimo, è importante precisare che una cittadinanza non è lo stesso che identità. Nonostante nel mio caso avere un passaporto britannico e sentirsi britannica saranno la stessa cosa, allo stesso tempo il fatto di naturalizzarsi come cittadino di un altro stato non cambierà mai la vostra identità, abitudini e tradizioni nel caso vi sentiate italiani.

Se qualsiasi persona desidera avere più informazioni  riguardo al processo di naturalizzazione in UK, sentitevi liberi di chiedere più dettagli nei commenti.

 

Home is where the heart is

This article is also translated in Italian at the bottom (versione italiana in fondo).

Prologue:

This post was written in order to be published on another blog; I was a guest blogger on it until a few days ago. It was never green lit, probably because the targeted audience of such a post is certainly different from the one aimed at on the other blog. To each his own…. Even in matters of immigration I like to offer a different perspective from the usual ones you can read online. I’m not afraid to say that many modern Italian migrants like to think of themselves as they were forced to leave and they express their frustration in such a situation. I can understand their point of view but I don’t share it. I wouldn’t have stayed anyway. My identity and ideas were different from the start and I just didn’t fit in. Perhaps, I don’t fit in ‘that crowd’ even nowadays and that is why this article always remained a draft. I now publish it myself, after having removed tweaks and references to the other blog for copyright reasons. Enjoy.

* * * *

Many Italian expats endlessly share their opinions about feeling homesick and eventually returning to Italy. To the point of ridiculous and whiney drama…..  However, quoting the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, “expat is as expat does”. Personally, I never loved the term ‘expat’ (which is the shortened form for ‘expatriate’, coming from the Latin words that mean ‘out of the fatherland’), because it is based on the assumption that people actually ‘had’ a ‘fatherland’ in the past. I don’t feel like I ever had one and I surely cannot see Italy in the nostalgic terms used by some expats. If I address my immigration status in any conversation I speak of myself as a ‘migrant’, not an expat. This is how I feel, because more or less I’ve been ‘migrating’ for two decades, travelling from one place to another. I’ve no ex-patria to go back to and I feel that now I’m actually in the country I’ve elected as my patria. Contrary to what some people believe, I always say that “I visit my family’s fatherland”, I never say “I’m going home” because I am already at home.

Furthermore, what defines ‘home’ or ‘fatherland’? The concept of patria itself could be discussed ad infinitum. It is tied with cultural background, personal identity, personal background (home, childhood, family, friends, etc.) and more other factors. From my life experience, I always felt that my region of provenance was perceived by me as my ‘birth land’, rather than Italy. Tuscany is probably the only parameter that can be used to illustrate my original customs, habits and also food taste. When I get asked if I like Italian cooking, I never know what to answer because I like Tuscan cooking and food, but not the cooking or food of all the Italian regions. I might crave to eat ‘tortelli di patate’ or ‘ballotti’ (the latter using the marroni from Mugello!), but a Neapolitan babà is as inedible as a British Christmas pudding for me. Apart from some food coming from my original region, I usually don’t have preferences in food based on where the original recipe comes from, if it’s good it’s good, if it’s disgusting I don’t eat it, simple as that.

I’m aware that many people find it difficult to discern the personal background from a wider concept of ‘state’. Nobody seems to think that many migrants feel homesick because they left ‘home’ in the broader sense of family, friends and safe refuge from difficulties and external pressures. Very often migrants don’t leave the ‘state’ itself, they leave their comfort zone. That is what many regret leaving. However, the above mentioned process implies that the migrant must have a ‘home’ somewhere…. I didn’t have that luxury, as many others did not either. If in an alternative reality I will be deported to Italy tomorrow, I’d be put together in an accommodation with asylum seekers and immigrants from Syria and other African countries, with very little hopes to find a job at nearly 44 years old and therefore survive on my own.

My Italian citizenship would not guarantee me a job or an accommodation either by itself. Sometimes I’ve heard some genius suggesting that  going back to an abusive home is always better than queuing at the local Caritas centre! First, anyone suggesting anything similar has no notion of what emotional and psychological abuse entail. Secondly, many don’t imagine that my family, Italian citizens, also were in the list at their local Caritas centre themselves after the recession (however, recent upsurges in immigration made these places overcrowded and the Caritas volunteers started to send Italians back ; my relatives never got a meal there). A return to Italy, for me, would be the same as shooting me on the spot. It took me nearly 4 decades to definitively get out of Italy and my dysfunctional family; if I’d go back many of  these efforts done in that direction would be useless. Yes, the end of life, because I’m not very interested in living in a vegetative state, sorry!

Sif home

In conclusion, homesickness and eventually a return to the mother country can also be the unhappiest and the most dreaded solution for a migrant. If there is no circle of friends or family who are glad to take you back, a country is only an impersonal system of laws, governing bodies, social and religious conventions; for migrating purposes we need to take into account how that country fares on an international scale rather than a personal one. Italy doesn’t rank higher in any list. Furthermore, there’s no such a thing as ‘land ties’ if you don’t own property and you don’t have any relationships with anyone living there. For me, who I always felt a migrant with no ex-patria (or a world citizen), ‘birth land’ first became a sort of postcard and then a memory. With time passing by, even all those memories will fade away, replaced by my present and future life events on British soil. Italy is not a reason for nostalgia at all and in the future it’ll seem to me like a yellowish, one-hundred-year old picture kept in a drawer all along.

“Home is where the heart is”

 

* * * *

Versione italiana (prologo è stato omesso perchè non parte della versione originale)

Molti expats italiani condividono all’infinito le loro opinioni sulla nostalgia della madre patria e eventualmente un ritorno in Italia. Fino al punto di farne sceneggiate ridicole e piagnucolose… Comunque, citando il film ‘Forrest Gump’, “expat è chi l’expat lo fa”. Personalmente, non ho mai amato il termine ‘expat’ (forma abbreviata di ‘expatriate’, espatriato in inglese, che viene dalle parole latine che significano ‘al di fuori della madrepatria’), poiché si basa sulla supposizione che la gente ‘avesse’ una patria in passato. Non mi sento come se ne avessi mai avuta una e sicuramente non posso vedere l’Italia nei termini nostalgici di alcuni espatriati. Ciò è come mi sento, perché più o meno sono stata una migrante per due decenni, viaggiando da un posto a un altro. Non ho nessuna ‘ex-patria’ a cui tornare e sento che adesso sono nella patria che ho eletto come tale. Contrariamente a ciò che alcuni credono, io dico sempre che “visito la patria dei miei”, non dico mai “vado a casa” perché a casa ci sono già.

Inoltre, cosa definisce ‘casa’ o ‘patria’? Il concetto stesso della patria potrebbe essere discusso all’infinito. E’ legato all’estrazione culturale, l’identità personale, le origini personali (casa, infanzia, famiglia, amici, ecc.) e molti altri fattori. Seguendo la mia esperienza di vita, ho sempre sentito che percepivo più la mia regione di provenienza come ‘terra di nascita’ che l’Italia. Probabilmente la Toscana è il solo parametro che può essere usato per spiegare le origini delle mie tradizioni, abitudini e anche il mio gusto nel cibo. Quando mi chiedono se mi piace la cucina italiana, non so mai che rispondere perché mi piace la cucina e il cibo toscani ma non la cucina e il cibo di tutte le regioni italiane. Magari mi piacerebbe mangiare ‘i tortelli di patate’ o ‘i ballotti’ (gli ultimi fatti coi marroni del Mugello!), ma un babà napoletano è per me immangiabile come il britannico Christmas pudding. Eccetto qualche cosa che proviene dalla mia regione di nascita, non ho preferenze di cibo basate su da dove proviene la ricetta, se è buono è buono, se è schifoso non lo mangio, semplice.

So che per tante persone è difficile distinguere tra le origini personali e un concetto più esteso di nazione. Nessuno sembra pensare che molti emigranti sentono nostalgia di casa perché hanno lasciato ‘casa’ nel senso più ampio di famiglia, amici e rifugio sicuro da difficoltà e pressioni esterne. Molto spesso gli emigranti non lasciano la nazione stessa, lasciano la loro ‘zona di benessere’. E’ per questo che molti rimpiangono di essere partiti. Comunque, il processo sopra menzionato implica che l’emigrante debba avere una ‘casa’ da qualche parte…. Non ho avuto quel lusso, e neppure molti altri. Se in una realtà alternativa fossi deportata in Italia domani, sarei alloggiata insieme a richiedenti d’asilo e immigrati dalla Siria e altre nazioni africane, con pochissime speranze di trovare  un lavoro a quasi 44 anni e quindi sopravvivere con le mie forze.

La mia cittadinanza italiana, da sola, non mi garantirebbe né un alloggio né un lavoro. Qualche volta ho sentito qualche genio suggerire che tornare in una casa dove c’è l’abuso è sempre meglio che fare la coda al centro locale della Caritas! Per prima cosa, qualsiasi persona che suggerisce ciò non ha un’idea di cosa comporta l’abuso emozionale e psicologico. Secondo, molti non si immaginano che anche la mia famiglia, cittadini italiani, erano pure loro nelle liste della Caritas dopo la recessione (comunque, un aumento dell’immigrazione ha fatto diventare questi luoghi sovraffollati e i volontari della Caritas hanno cominciato a rimandare gli italiani indietro; i miei parenti non ci hanno poi mai mangiato). Un ritorno in Italia per me sarebbe lo stesso che spararmi sul luogo. Mi ci sono voluti quasi 4 decenni per uscire definitivamente dall’Italia e dalla mia famiglia disfunzionale; se dovessi tornare indietro tutti gli sforzi fatti sarebbero stati inutili. Sì, fine della vita, perché non sono molto interessata a vivere in uno stato vegetativo, mi spiace!

Concludendo, nostalgia e un eventuale ritorno in patria possono anche essere la soluzione più infelice e temuta per un migrante. Se non c’è un gruppo di amici o la famiglia che sono felici di riaccogliervi, una nazione è solo un sistema impersonale di leggi, governo, convenzioni sociali e religiose; per scopi di immigrazione una determinata nazione va considerata su scala internazionale piuttosto che su quella personale. L’Italia non è in alto in nessuna lista. Inoltre, non esistono “legami alla terra” se non si possiede nessuna proprietà o non si ha nessuna relazione con qualcuno che vive su quella terra. Per me, che mi sono sempre sentita una migrante senza patria (o cittadina del mondo), la terra di nascita prima è diventata una specie di cartolina e poi un ricordo. Col passare del tempo, anche tutti quei ricordi scompariranno, rimpiazzati dagli eventi presenti e futuri della mia vita in territorio britannico. L’Italia non è assolutamente una ragione per rimembranze e nel futuro mi sembrerà come una fotografia ingiallita di cento anni fa tenuta in un cassetto.

“La casa è dove si trova il cuore”

 

 

When getting ‘likes’ and ‘hits’ is all that matters

This is another post I write on the spur of the moment. Sometimes it feels liberating to let words flow on the keyboard in a natural way. I needed to vent and I’m lucky enough to have a blog where I can rant and babble nonsense if I feel to 😉 However… when the need to vent is made at the expense of someone else, is it still fine? What if that someone is even ‘indicated’ in the article? Does not that become an impolite and rude bullying of an innocent person? I’ll explain myself better.

Today I read an article on an Italian blog where at the beginning the author was clearly mocking:

a) a group of people

b) some expat blogs

Apart from the fact that the language used in the article was clearly insulting to the people of point ‘a’, I thought that the worst part was the second one where the author was clearly deeming some immigration blogs stupid and improvised. Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinions but at some point the female author alluded to a blog in such a manner that it became clear who and what she was talking about. Needless to say, the author of the mentioned blog got aware of that, became furious and complained to the admin of that website. Rightly so; I’d have probably burnt someone at the stake if I was in her shoes. The insulting part of the article was removed and… all was fine…NOT. Because the admin of the website hasn’t clearly gotten why the second blogger was feeling offended. In the end, the post had been so popular!! Lots of shares and likes and hits. Ha. It’s what that matters nowadays. Online popularity, the more the better. If this means to step on someone else’s rights or feelings, it doesn’t really matter. Nah. For some people, loyalty doesn’t exist anymore once that hits and likes get front stage.

I don’t share this opinion, no matter how popular it is. I made a decision, when I opened this blog, not to cave in to ‘marketability’. I don’t sell products and I don’t earn any revenue from having more or less ‘hits’ on this website. There’s no meaning for me to pander to different audiences or to write likable posts, I don’t need to be internet famous, to be honest I don’t need to be famous at all.

I don’t get endless likes and retweets on this blog and it’s fine like that. I know, maybe some admins dream bigger. Perhaps hits and likes and shares become their drug, and nothing else matters anymore. However, today’s events also prompted me to think, they were food for thought. Because ‘I’ could also be thrown under the bus if somebody else’s necessity arises, I could be judged and deemed stupid, childish and backwards as the other blogger was. My blog could be easily derided by someone who thinks I’m talking nonsense all the time or asking the wrong or stupidest questions.

Well, I am about to give bad news to everyone though. Careful who you pick for bullying and mocking, because I’m not going down without a fight. Like Samson, I die with the Philistines 😉

Have a nice evening,

Merlin xxx

 

Being ‘different’ in Italy is a real curse

“Dedicated to all the ‘different’ ones out there, regardless of where they are from”

From my arrival to UK, one of the things I enjoyed the most was to have the privilege of wearing whatever I liked, without necessarily being shunned by the rest of society. This was something I felt strongly about, because before leaving Italy I had completed a 7-year streak working for fashion designers companies. In these companies, an invisible dress code was the accepted rule for all the employees. I say invisible because it was not written in any contract, but if you didn’t conform to it, chances were your employment contract was not going to be renewed. This invisible dress code meant that the employee had to spend a crapload of money in clothes and shoes to be ‘like the rest of the staff’, regardless of their job titles. Not necessarily these clothes had to be made by the same brand we were working for, but that was a plus, of course. This also meant that all my wages earned in two years and a half (length of my employment in the first fashion company I worked for) got wasted for the invisible dress code.

Do you think it’s fair? No, of course it’s not, but there’s an underlying message there… that many Italians, on a general scale, had and have to conform to that ‘dress code’ too. If you’re an electrician and has to work in a uniform, when you’re out with friends or in a disco you’re expected to wear ‘branded’ clothes. It doesn’t matter if these clothes are kitsch or indecent, they need to possibly sport a colossal writing somewhere, subtly informing everybody that you paid 100/200/300 euros… for a t-shirt. It is your claim to cultural uniformity with the mass. You’re actually telling everybody that ‘hey I’m like you’ and you can approach everyone, without fearing that others will wag their fingers at you like you’ve just got the plague. This custom is unrelated to real social standing, type of work or class. If even a millionaire thinks to enter a supermarket where he never was in and he’s dressed with a shirt and trousers bought at a Chinese warehouse, see what happens 😀 (might be not a bad idea though.. so you avoid that all the Italian customers bump their trolleys against you).

Now all the above does not include race or sexual orientation. I won’t go there because I cannot speak for those two groups I don’t belong to, although from what I’ve heard if me being different is a curse, for them everything is downright hell. Anyway, back to the main topic. I’ve always identified differently in terms of ‘personality’. I never gave a crap to be born a woman, being told off because I was a woman didn’t compute with me. I didn’t like fancy dresses as a child and I didn’t dream to be a princess whilst I was a little girl. I wanted to drive race cars or motorcycles, fly jets, be at a ship’s wheel or fly into space as an astronaut. Heck, I wanted to be a piano player at 5 and I wasn’t allowed because I was too poor and a woman! I was reading at 3 and by the time anyone else started primary school and they  had started to read ‘I am blah blah’ I was already reading whole books and consulting a dictionary. However, that made me a ‘different’ one, which was and is the biggest fault ever if you’re born in Italy. I ended up wasting years trying to fit in and conform to rules that might have been acceptable for anyone else but not for me. They made me feel like I was in jail all time. ‘Don’t do this, don’t say that’ was the daily portion of wisdom I was administered. Well, whoever was close to me was right. It was not my task to change ‘them’, it was my task to remove myself from the equation. I’m glad I understood it, late but I did!

I was the ‘wrong’ one. And after all this time, years, if I speak to anyone who’s born and lived/lives in Italy, I’m still the wrong one, disliked, sometimes despised and unpleasant one. Even if they don’t know me personally. I embody the voice that is singing out of the choir; I’m a soprano, so quite a loud one at that!! 😀 Italians, whether by way of heritage, religion or simply customs, don’t like to be answered by someone whose voice is not in unison with theirs. They end up taking the high road immediately (if any American is now reading this part, no… don’t even try the comparison between your fellow citizens and mine, Italians are a lot less evolved than your country citizens, believe me!), because they don’t like to hear a different opinion. Many are not even able to start a civil discussion. Anything against the ‘normal’ trend is bad or wrong, end of story. Mostly, they do NOT know anything about the concept of personal identity. Personal identity for an Italian does NOT exist. It’s what the mass tells you is right that you need to heed. God forbid if you think that one of their regional dishes is crap or say anything against one of their beliefs or prejudices. I got kicked out of catechism when I was 8 because the catechist was trying to teach us how our world started and I went to the following session branding an astronomy book and telling the lady that she might be mistaken about this ‘God’ she was talking about because Earth is part of the universe and you know, it all started with the big bang! If she was gifted with any critical thought she might have answered that God had created the universe, but only because I dared to speak out and against what I was told, needless to say… I was subsequently grounded and treated as a heretic. At 8 years old LOL

As a now-middle-aged adult, I also find difficult to deal with some stuff I’m required to do for my studies. I just received the feedback for my last module. A nice grade and a constructive feedback at that…. But I felt bitter afterwards. At some point the module tutor expressed a sort of disappointment because if I had used my critical thinking and my analytical skills more, my grade could be first class. Which would be a huge achievement for someone who was not even born in an English speaking country. But how could I explain to my British tutor that my critical thinking has been suppressed by birth because it was an expression of ‘unconformity’? That I was impaired by the whole Italian school system, which aims to discourage students and make them losers, so less of them graduate and stay stuck in the menial jobs and poorest classes?

I don’t even think social mobility ever existed in Italy, many people are still stuck in the Roman Empire… ah wait, I want to add this. Many Italians take pride in believing Romans are their ancestors. This belief is so strong that nearly ALL books written by Italian academics about the Roman Republic and Empire are useless on an academic level. I cannot use any of the texts written in Italian because it’s mindboggling how biased and useless they are concerning the whole historical period.

However… Let me clear this: Romans were the inhabitants of the city of Rome. FACT. All the other people on the ancient Italian soil were a mix of tribes and different populations coming from Etruscan, Greek, Celtic and Lydian heritage and ancestors. They were NOT Romans. Roman citizenship was extended to the tribes of the Italian peninsula at the end of the Roman Republic, 1st century BCE. Italia as a concept was created by Augustus, for military purposes. Not because he was a generous man who thought equality was due… The Roman elite treated the Italian tribes like crap, but they needed manpower and electors… Do the math. 😉 The extension of the Roman citizenship to everyone didn’t transform in Romans all the inhabitants of the Italic lands overnight, like by magic. So claiming a Roman ancestry when there might be none is a bit silly. Well, I guess it goes hand in hand with wearing a 300-euro t-shirt and faking that you actually earn a wage where you can afford to spend that amount of money for a worthless piece of fabric.

Note:
Clearly not all the Italians are like this; although I found out that many like me didn’t speak out because they are afraid of their peers’ reaction. However, the mass is certainly like that and it’s not even a mystery  🙂

 

 

The long-winded translation of ‘saccente’

If any of you has ever studied languages, there’s no appropriate translation for many words between many languages. Linguistics is not an exact science, of course. For example, ‘accountability’ in English has no proper translation in Italian or ‘buonismo’ in Italian has no effective translation in English, at least in the modern meaning of the word. One of those words I always found difficult to translate is the Italian adjective ‘saccente’ and, for your information, it’s a pejorative term too.

In my opinion it’s no coincidence that this word exists as an ‘only word’ in Italian whilst in English it could translate with ‘arrogant, pedantic, conceited know-it-all’. Despite the renown snobbery of some English people who could easily be described by such a word, that is nothing compared to the same level of ‘saccenza’ (the noun at the root of the adjective) displayed by many Italians. Unfortunately…. I guess it is the heritage left by those pompous Romans 2,000 years ago… (I’m neck-deep in studying Augustus’ Res Gestae… most presumptuous thing ever!!) and it seems it’s still ongoing nowadays.

Italians generally hold a grudge on anyone who’s definitively showing some kind of superiority in any field compared to them, whether that’s the truth or not. They regard their lifestyle and ‘their’ system as one of the best in the world (guess what.. like the Romans!), but this particular side of them doesn’t show when they are in Italy, it rears its ‘ugly’ head when they are abroad. No population all over Europe has anything better than in Italy and the worst thing I can do at the end of my day is reading online comments written in Italian and read all that crap about how cleaner, smarter and more beautiful all things are in Italy. I had promised I was going to stop doing it, but sometimes the temptation is strong, sorry my dear readers! Of course, it is an illusion. There are pros and cons in every situation as well as living in every country. There’s no perfect country to live in, there’s only a place you can call home, regardless of where that is. Unfortunately, this is not the message that many accept as truth, even if it’s the person ‘feeling at home’ who’s speaking/writing. I was reading comments on FB on one of my articles in Italian (not written for this website) and the general lack of humility and understanding was appalling. They’ve to tell you that what you’re feeling or experiencing can’t be possible and it is not the truth.

You’ve to know that Italian students have to study ten times more than anyone else in Europe. That doesn’t make any of them a lot smarter, of course, you are smart or you aren’t. However, many graduates still insist they are smarter or more prepared than others abroad. Needless to say, that is not true because quantity doesn’t equal quality most of the time. The quality of their learning process is very low and stiff, many students goes on repeating/parroting what they read in their ‘assigned’ books and usually they have no practical knowledge at all. The information is also politically manufactured most of the time and at present I’m in the middle of unlearning what I had learnt in my secondary school years (Thank God I didn’t complete it in Italy!!). Is this the rule for everybody? Of course not, many brilliant students detach themselves from such a method and bin it (only doing the ‘parroting’ thing at the exams but in the end they actively learnt something). For the others, a huge, general bitterness is felt when they find out what they had to stand for…nothing. Once confronted with a foreign method and process of learning they find themselves at a loss. In a few words, they don’t know how to justify they spent years learning a huge pile of crap and someone got there in half of the time… They’re looking for graduate jobs at 28 and the others at 22-23… And here the ‘saccenza’ and the need of justifying ‘useless study’ come back… “But I know more”, nope, they just read more: reading lots without learning doesn’t make anyone more skilled or smarter. In some cases it just makes them appear as losers (not my opinion here, just what I’ve heard locals say).

Why going back to Italy is just a nightmare and not a holiday

Disclaimer: the author was born in Italy and lived there for 30-odd years.. So she knows very well what she’s talking about!

Last time I went to visit my family in Italy I had the strange feeling, since boarding the flight in Edinburgh, that I had somewhat managed to make a mistake. I didn’t feel at ease at all. Not surprising, because since I migrated abroad nearly five years ago I arranged to go back always less and less. I now go for a visit every 14-15 months and I hope to go back every two years from now on, unless it is an emergency visit. As far as my nationality is concerned, not sure why but I feel more British than I ever felt to be an Italian. Apart from speaking the language, I have no idea what I could have in common with modern-day Italians (considering what I think about the majority of them, I hope I have NOTHING in common with them!).
Well, more later and let’s go back to the trip.

As soon as I land in Pisa, a drowsy ‘carabiniere’ has a look at my passport and let me go through the border. I meet my mum and my brother at the arrival lounge, a long-delayed meeting (I had left Cumbria early in the morning, met a friend in Edinburgh and then patiently waited for my flight to leave, one hour delay….). I get to my mum’s home at five to midnight. I soon fall asleep but, as strange as it may be, I feel like I am in a hotel. Since last time I was there, my brother has taken up residence in my old bedroom so I am ‘dislodged’ to another bed in my mum’s bedroom. Husband is not with me on this brief journey, he was too busy at work. Then I also thought that it was a good idea to tidy up my old things once and for all and to take everything back with me (we recently bought a house in Cumbria).

The following day, it is incredibly scorching hot. My mum and I arrange to go to the supermarket before noon and before the heat can take a toll on us. We wall ourselves up until about four, when the heat seems decreasing (it is the first week of June and the temperature is nearly 39 degrees from 1 pm to 7 pm!!), although I guess ‘decreasing’ is not very appropriate in this case given that I feel like I am sweating buckets of sweat anyway. I need to purchase a suitcase to bring back with me to UK and I am totally appalled by the rudeness and impoliteness of shopgirls and counter assistants. Never mind, I think, I don’t have to stand that anymore, I don’t live here. I pay for the suitcase once I find the right one and go back.

On Saturday, I have to go to the Post Office because I have received a credit note from the Italian Revenue and Customs, from 2008… A big amount of money, it took only six years to have them back… 16 euros lol (more or less the equivalent of 13.50 £). Of course I get to speak to the most impolite counter assistant of the whole Italian Post Office system!! First, she asks why I got the wrong letter (“it is C for this kind of document, not B!” How can I know?), then she tries to lecture me why I should have had the ‘Codice Fiscale’ card with me like I am an idiot who never lived in Italy, then she totally appears off her mind when she asserts that everyone in Europe has it, even in the Health national cards, well I show her my British one and then she is forced to shut up because our NIN is not used as the Italian CF and guess what, it is not mentioned on health cards…. Well, needless to say I can’t get the money and I have to go back home and dig the CF card out of somewhere. Two hours later the card shows up and I go back. Although I was silently praying not to end up with the same lady, yet on her request I have to go back. Whilst she is doing her operation and I am waiting for my bloody 16 euros, she starts asking me questions and expressing doubts that I ever moved my residence address. She directly starts insulting my intelligence when she tries to lecture me again that I should have told the consulate I was changing address when I actually filled my application form at the consulate six months after I became a Uk resident, nearly 5 years ago. I am now totally FURIOUS. I explode and I go on a rant finishing with “if things don’t work in Italy and various institutions and companies are unable to speak to each other is not my fault or my business either”. With that, I storm off out of that office with my bloody 16 euros, swearing not to ever go back again.

At this point, I am already fed up and wish I could jump on a plane on the same day and bye, bye Italy. It was not over, though. Sunday goes by with no further hassle. On Monday we have decided to take a day off and go to the beach. We choose a location in Maremma, couple of hours of driving from my mum’s town. First of all, I don’t drive in Italy anymore because people are crazy, as in ‘totally crazy’. Speed limits are only used to get a few drivers fined, otherwise it seems like nobody notices those round signs circles in red with number in them…. Unless they get aware there is a speed camera on their path and they pull the brakes at full force! For example, if they are driving at 130 km/h and the speed limit is 90, be sure that they will drive at 80 in front of the camera, so be prepared to see people suddenly decelerating in front of you, therefore… Keep your distance!
The day ‘off’ at the beach is nearly worse than what I have already experienced at home…. A ton of screaming Italians, people pissed off because you are planting your big umbrella too close to theirs (easy to do, given that all Italians whine they are all poor and close to starving.. Nevertheless, first week of June, midweek, it seems like everybody is on the beach and I am sure you know that hotels and holiday apartments in Tuscany are not very cheap!), African vendors trying to sell you their junk accessories every five minutes, wasps and…. A scorching, unbearably hot sun that burns you after one hour you sat on your beach towel. A first-class nightmare 😦 My mum is with us too and she seems like she is barely able to breathe. I get sunburnt a bit in my back and one of my feet, my brother skin colour is now of a shade close to shiny red tomato LOL. We leave at four and we get home at eight, after the usual, long traffic queues around Florence. I could not mention that I also went into two shops before and after the beach-time and of course I got treated as dirt by the counter assistants twice (maybe Italians customers have no self respect!).

After that unpleasant experience that ruined my only ‘holiday’ day during my week in Tuscany, I decide that staying at my mum’s home until my departure is definitively a good idea. I am counting the hours to my flight back and I am still thinking over how I could have ever stood that kind of routine whilst I was living in Italy. Was it lack of hope, a future? Was it depression or just the unawareness that something better and more ‘civil’ existed? Was it the fact that all Italians have to stand that because nothing changes no matter what they do?

After one week, I say bye to my brother and mum and promise them I won’t be back for a long time. They are welcome to come any time, of course.
Whilst I was on my way to Bologna airport, it was not surprising that: only two Irish guys and a Spanish one helped me with the luggage (Italian guys could ruin their nails, you know!) while I was on the train; Italian people use any kind of exit and entrance while getting on a bus, no matter if you are struggling with your luggage; a group of young Italian girls distastefully commenting about a British family clothes (well at least in UK we are not starving ourselves to buy a Gucci bag and pretend we are wealthier than we are, dumbasses!); another counter assistant replying in a impolite and rude manner (are you surprised?).

In my brief stay, I only saw a couple of friends and only the ones who gave me a positive vibe. I am aware that I can’t take the usual, endless, whining Italian attitude anymore. They get on my nerves. Not to mention they were seemingly shouting all time, even when speaking on their mobiles…. I found that the Italian society as a whole seems like it has totally lost his values and what good of being an Italian was left.

I am very proud to say I grew up as totally different from them. Once I was bullied for that reason, now being an outcast is for me a source of great consolation and even happiness.

P.S. By the way, I can now grow tomatoes in UK too so I am sure I won’t miss Tuscany that much anymore 😉