I will share something that still manages to disturb me a little, even though I know the reason behind it, but it used to really turn me off, depress me and make me doubt myself and my choice, especially when I was vulnerable.
I’m sharing this because I would like to help you prepare for this experience,if and when it happens to you,especially if you are as sensitive as I was. Along with the struggles of settling into a new region, there are several challenges faced by immigrants due to the overcritical behaviour of the natives and this happens especially if you are from a country that is a popular tourist destination.
Even after sixteen years of living in Canada,when I meet new customers today while consulting for my kitchen cabinet business, I get questioned about why I left such a beautiful country like Italy. Many times, they don’t even give me a chance to answer. They will begin to describe their fantastic trip to Italy with the romanticism and ecstasy I would use to describe my first date with my wife!
When all this happens, I usually think aboutwhy they ask me this question; can’t they see the differences between the two countries? Isn’t it obvious why? Do they think I was attracted by the North American weatherand/or the food?
It still bothers me because I sense a judgmental vibe whenCanadian-born citizenswonder why I left Italy, even if at the same time I am flattered by the beautiful things they say about my native country.
You might hear things like, “You left such a great culture…here there is no culture…”, “You guys have the best weather… here it snows for nine months”, or the one that used to hurt me the most: “If you are good, you can make it anywhere…”
I have found two logical explanations;
1. These people took a vacation in my country, so they have mainly seen the beautiful tourist hotspots instead of the average, everyday lifestyle of the citizens and residents.
2. Because they are usually not immigrants, they don’t realize that the motivation for someone to leave their country could be different for everyone. This second explanation is the one that most people have to struggle to understand.
Most don’t know what immigration is all about, they believe that it is just about changing country for a better job, health care and possibly a safer environment. Although most people do immigrate for these reasons, there are other reasons that motivate people to immigrate, and usually people that immigrate for the “other reasons” are the ones that make the best out of the experience for their new country and for themselves.
For example, it could have been the overall energy of the country that did not resonate with the individual, and for that reason, finding the connection with another country becomes necessary.In my case, when I first visited Canada,I was surprised and delighted by the many times strangers would smile at me, which was something that never happened to me duringthefirst 26 years of my life in Italy. Smiling at a stranger would have been interpreted either as craziness or as an attempt at flirting. I absolutely loved this about Canada, and it was this detail among a few others that made me feel that Canada was home for me.