Coming to America was by far the most important event in my life. I was born in a small rural town in the northern part of Italy. My parents worked at a local hospital and gained respect within our small community. I was totally satisfied with my life because we had a nice house and many friends and lived in a beautiful place. I could not even imagine that I would have to leave my native town and move across the ocean. When I was 14, my father was invited to work at a large hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. My parents decided it would be a great opportunity for them to develop professionally and try something new. I was a teenager and did not realize how important it was for them to move to America.
When I was told that we were going to move to another country in five months, I was devastated. I was so happy in Italy and had many good friends there. Although my parents tried to convince me I would find new friends in America, I thought my life was over. I was a very emotional teenager, and such a dramatic change in my life was perceived as a disaster. I had poor language skills and prepared to become an outsider in my new school.
First four months in America were depressing. We came there in winter, so Massachusetts looked very unwelcoming. I got used to living in the mountains, skiing, and breathing the fresh air, so did not like Boston at all. I have to admit that it was my teenager grudge and skepticism that prevented me from seeing all the benefits of my new home. My parents soon bought a spacious apartment in the downtown, and we had very nice neighbors with children of my age. I went to school, which was much better than my old one. However, I did not want to accept the fact that I would no longer live in Italy and that my life has changed once and for all.
It is important to note that one of the biggest challenges was to build my new identity. I realized that I never stopped being an Italian, but I also knew that I was not American. I painfully perceived the cultural differences between me and my classmates and thought I would never feel comfortable in this place. Everyone saw me as a strange Italian girl who cannot speak English well, and I could not change that no matter how I tried. I desperately wanted to become a part of this new society but lacked understanding and support. My parents worked a lot, and they did not have time to explain to me how to behave.
Luckily, I managed to find new friends. Anna and Sam lived in the same building and were of the same age, so we quickly found common ground. They supported me and motivated me to learn English as fast as possible. Anna once told me a very important idea that has driven me forward ever since. She said, “The key to succeeding in this country is to believe in yourself and never let anyone say that you are an outsider. This place it full of foreigners, and this is what makes this country so unique.” I gradually realized that being an Italian was not a barrier to integration. I learned to value my cultural background while at the same time began enjoying my new experience.
It has been three years since I came to America. I am proficient in English now and have many friends. Me and my parents go to Italy every summer and I still love my native country with its spectacular nature and welcoming people. Yet, I feel that America has changed me much. I learned to be more open, confident, and ambitious. I know that I have many opportunities here, and I am grateful to my parents for bringing me here. I am still Italian, but I also feel a part of this energetic, hard-working, and aspiring nation.
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