Expat. Phenomenon or state of mind?

MICHELE – FRONT-END ENGINEER AT FACEBOOK
A little bio
I originally come from a small town on Lake Garda called San Felice del Benaco, where I grew up and spent most of my life. I moved to the UK with my wife and my son who was four months old at the time in September 2014. I was looking for new exciting job opportunities and I heard from some friends who were already living there that London was one of the best places in Europe for Software Engineers.

Where are you now?
I still live in London, because I found what I was looking for. The tech scene there is amazing, Software Engineers are perceived as a resource rather than a cost (as opposed to in Italy), and there are many kinds of opportunities for everyone.

How does it feel be far away from your country?
In the beginning, changing countries, habits and being away from the rest of my family was hard. Luckily, we’ve felt comfortable from the start. London is awesome in the way it makes it easy for foreigners to access the basic services (e.g. you can do most of the bureaucratic stuff online). Our relatives and friends come visit pretty often, we Skype people who are not able to fly and we made a lot of new friends in the city (from different countries).

The word “expat” has a strong meaning of belonging, of nationality…
Expat means I still have an Italian citizenship, which is true. I also feel proud of the way I grew up in Italy, and I’m thankful for the values that are now part of my culture and myself. I did my best in Italy to get the most out of my job, and I tried to improve the system but unfortunately something is deeply broken there. That’s why I decided to move to a more meritocratic country.

The best thing about your new country?
The best thing about London is the opportunity that the city gives you. I left Italy with an underpaid temporary contract, and I’ve now been hired as a permanent employee at Facebook.  My wife (who has a degree in Mathematics) couldn’t find a proper job in Italy, and she ended up working in a coffee bar during the summer. Now she’s Ops Manager in a Startup in East London.

How long do you plan to live there?
Before moving out of Italy, I had no idea I would have ever been able to live in a different country. Now, I feel I can go anywhere. I’m not planning to move out of the UK at the moment, but I don’t see myself staying there forever. I’m also quite sure I’m not moving back to Italy anytime soon.

DJ – TRAVEL BLOGGER AND ENTREPRENEUR

A little bio
I’m from the Philippines. I am currently based in Germany with my partner. I moved to Warsaw in 2009 to get a Masters in International Business as a full scholar of the European Commission through the Erasmus Mundus program. Since then I have lived in different countries in Europe. I have lived in Stockholm as well as in various cities in Germany.

Where are you now?
I am currently living in the west part of Germany in a city called Essen. It’s very close to Dusseldorf and Cologne. The quality of life is great here and Germans are very friendly and welcoming so I feel very much at home.

How does it feel be far away from your country?
Personally, I love travelling and living abroad, so for me it’s been amazing to be doing just that. I have lived on my own since I was 17 when I moved to Manila to go to university so it doesn’t feel odd to me to be away from my family. I am used to it. It can be a bit sad at times because I miss my family and friends back in the Philippines. But I go back home every year and my family and friends come to visit me in Europe sometimes so it’s okay. With the advancement of technology, I get to talk to my family and friends almost everyday.

The word “expat” has a strong meaning of belonging, of nationality…
I actually don’t feel like an expat in Germany nor do I consider myself as one because I am self-employed and I work at home or on the road. Most of our friends are Germans as well so I don’t hangout with a lot of other expats. In a way I don’t feel like I am living the usual expat life of working for a company who organizes everything for you and hanging out with coworkers or other expats in your office.

The best thing about your new country?
Very high quality of life!

How long do you plan to live there?
I’ve been living in Germany for almost 4 years now with my partner. We are planning to move next year either to Madrid or Berlin. We will see where the wind takes us in the next months!

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