Interview with Jeffo in Brindisi
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Date of Interview: August 30, 2006
Area of Italy you live or will live in?
Let us know a little about yourself?
Single and never married. I'm an Aerospace Engineer that grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. After university I moved to Indianapolis where I lived for 10 years before Italy. I'm not your typical engineer as I have strange interests. I volunteered and worked at the Indianapolis Zoo in my spare time and my favorite sport is Ultimate Frisbee. Luckily I also played soccer growing up.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
The main reason for me was work and I wanted an adventure. Work was getting too routine and I wanted to see the world before settling down. My mother is of Italian descent so when I saw a job within my company but based in Italy I jumped at the chance. Luck was on my side because I had the experience necessary and beat out the others trying for this position
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
I was coming over for work so I needed a work visa before I left and then Permesso di Soggiorno upon arrival. Sounded simple enough. I could not get dual citzenship even though my grandfather was Italian because some vital piece of paperwork in the trail was missing. Birth certificate or marriage certificate. I forget what it was but my mom's a librarian and when she said it couldn't be done I believed her.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
The Italian company I was coming over to help had to do their part before I could get the work visa from the US Consulate(the letter to the Ministero del Lavoro and the Nulla Osta). Harassing them from the US seemed to go nowhere. I finally came over and harassed them in person and they gave me the paperwork needed and then I returned to the States and received my work visa with no problem. Getting the Permesso di Soggiorno was another trick and I wasted two mornings in the Questure until someone from work called a friend and then everything has been smooth sailing ever since. Knock on wood!
How long have you been here?
I have been here exactly 3 years when I'm writing this.
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
I have had all kinds of adjustment problems. It's been very hard for me to learn the language as I'm an engineer and better with numbers and math than language skills. It doesn't help that the dialects here can be far from Italian. Also at work I was an private office for a long time at the beginning, which looking back is the wrong time to working by yourself or with only one other person. Later I was working and relating to a larger group at work and everything seemed to improve. Language, friends, even social life.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Make sure you are coming here with a passion for something in common with Italians. If you like baseball, NASCAR, and country music then you aren't going to find much to talk about with Italians. If you like Italian food, Formula 1, soccer, politics and other things like this then you will have limitless conversations and a good chance of "fitting in". I had soccer as an in but more common interests would have been better.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
It's not what you know, it's who you know. That's too easy... Also it's how long you are willing to argue. I've seen times where the person that is "right" is the person willing to argue the most.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I thought Italians would be more open. Sure they are interested in you as a foreigner and may open up a little but to really be a part of their group takes years. Most my friends have been friends for years upon years so there really is no substitute for time. As a an American, patience is not always my strong subject. Also I'm disappointed I haven't found that beautiful Italian wife that everyone said I would find when I left the US. There's still time...
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
Too much to even mention. But I'm still basically the same person that is shy in unfamilar places and situations. It's just now there are much fewer unfamilar situations and places. I also think I have much more compassion for people trying to get into the US and more apprentation for my home country. I can now see that every country has flaws they try not to show the world. The US just can't hide theirs because there's too much interest in what it's doing. Like a rock star with the tabloids.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
This is the BIG question for me. It changes all the time. I go thru periods where I can't imagine leaving what I've grown accustomed to and then there I times I can't imagine not being able to hang out with my old friends and family.
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
What's particularly interesting to you about your region of Italy? I've seen and heard some major differences north to south and cities verses in the country. Italy has amazing differences when you think about how big it is