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We are happy to publish today the translation of a series of interviews that the Italian team of Expatclic.com carried out with their children. Enjoy the article, organized by Giuliettaexpat.

We now let our expatchildren speak to try to understand what they think of this wandering life.

We “move” them from one side of the world to another, they change friends and schools in no time, they often know Italy just because they go there on holiday, they follow us in our moving from one country to another, they speak different languages and face far away cultures, happy and smiling, sometimes with anguish and confusion, but in their eyes and words there is the typical childish enthusiasm for new realities.
They have learnt or learn very quickly how to adapt, they integrate exotic countries and reason as real citizens of the world: these are our expatchildren, children that grow up far from Italy, far from grandparents, uncles and cousins, involved in our life choices, a bit here, a bit there.
This spring we have decided to let them talk, and their cheerful thoughts and shining eyes when they tell us about Perth, Tokyo, Lima or Islamabad and a thousand other places, make us realise that they are really special kids!
Mattia, eleven years old, of which one spent in the Congo, two in Italy, four in Honduras and four in Peru.

Which is the country you have lived in that you like the most?

The only countries I have memories about are Honduras (a little) and Peru. I liked Honduras because friends were more sympathetic there, and I was in another phase. In Honduras they bothered less, people were better.

What struck you in each country you have visited?

I cannot remember anything in particular about Honduras.
In Peru I was struck by the climate because it is always grey, I don’t like it.

Has it been difficult to make new friends?

Not that much, I have always found new friends. It is more difficult to leave friends, than to make new ones.

Do you miss your friends?

From Honduras? Yes, I miss them, but I have new friends here, and this counterbalances. I do not remember all of them in Honduras, but I do remember Renan, Viena and Kimberly, with whom I played the most.

children see expatriation

Mattia (left) with Renan and Viena during his last year in Honduras

And how do you feel about leaving Peru?

I feel it will be difficult. I do not want to leave my friends, Rosa (the maid), the house and all the other things in Peru.

What is “home” for you?

I don’t know exactly. When I think of where my home is, I immediately think of Peru, of my friends, yes, especially of the friends I have here, of my habits, of the things I do everyday… because Italy is a nice place to go to, there is the family, but it’s more like a novelty, like a place where to spend the holidays, where to do nice things that you would not do every day in an ordinary life…

Which language do you prefer speaking?

Spanish because I have always lived in Spanish and this is the language I use to communicate with my friends, it is the easiest for me.

What do you like to do when you go back to Italy?

I like visiting places in Milan, when I was little I used to like to go to Fortura (a toys shop); I like to relax, eat pizza, ice-creams, mozzarella, salami, typical Italian things. I like to be in Milan because it is a very different environment from Peru.

Do you like this kind of life?

No, I don’t, because I always have to leave my friends, get used to new places. Once you get used to a place, you have to leave for another, I don’t like it at all.

 

children see expatriation

Leonardo has recently turned six. He was born in Holland, where he lived three years. We then moved to Sharjah, in the Arab Emirates, for yet another two years, and now we have been living in Perth, Australia, for one year. Despite his age, he went very quickly through changes, adaptations, new homes, different habits and customs. Here is how he answered my questions.

Leonardo, which is the country you have lived in that you like the most?

Holland

Holland?! (I am very surprised by his answer!!!!). But do you remember anything, you were so small?!

No, I do not remember anything, but there is where I was born, and I want to go back there. Holland is beautiful because there are those strange shoes made of wood.

And what struck you about the other countries you have lived in?

In Sharjah we lived in a very high tower and the house was huge, I could ride my bike in it. I remember the football lessons and the school, dad’s office, near the sea, where there were bulldozers and tractors and big boats. I even went on a bulldozer!
I liked the desert and the camels, and also the competitions of those strange motorbikes on the water in the lagoon below our house.

children see expatriation

Leonardo’s home in Sharjah

And Australia?

I like Perth. I like inner Australia, the place where Aborigines live. I also like fish, the ones in Exmouths, huge like the shark-whale!

children see expatriation

The coal train in Whiteman Park

Has it been difficult to make new friends?

I have friends everywhere, in Sharjah, in Italy, here, everywhere…

But has it been difficult? Do you miss your friends of before?

…Silence, Leonardo does not answer, this is a topic he’s not willing to talk about. I know he misses them, and prefers not to answer, so I do not insist.

And Italy? What do you like to do when you go back to Italy?

Italy is very beautiful. Mom, mom, I want to go back to Italy. There are mountains and the snow, you can make a snowman. In Italy there is the underground train and we took it twice. Once we went to a museum where there was the skeleton of the sperm whale (it was the Museum of Natural History), and once we went to the square with so many pigeons, where there was a grey church (Piazza Duomo).

children see expatriation

The Dome of Milan seen by Leonardo

Leonardo explains to me his drawing of the Duomo di Milano and I ask him why there is no Madonnina:

It was not there… one could not see her, so I won’t draw it! (indeed, last time the Duomo was being cleaned and was completely covered by posters, the Madonnina almost invisible).
I like Italy because there are our grandmothers and Matilde and Carola (the cousins), and there is our home there, with the kitchen into the living room, but there is enough space for the toys.
May I go play now?

children see expatriation

Federica

Federica is 10 and a half, she was born in Paris, lived in France until she was 7, and then moved to Japan. At the end of the school year she will go to live in India…

What does it mean for you to live abroad?

It means many things to me. To be away from my family, from dear friends (in this case those in France). I am far from my culture.

But which is your culture? (Federica never lived in Italy)

It is the French one for me, that is obviously very different from the Japanese one, for instance in Japan they eat differently

Yes, but France is not your country…

Sure, but I was born there and I lived there for 7 years, it is the place I know best!

What does France represent for you?

It is the place where I grew up, where I made friends. It has been my first home (… three moves in 7 years!)

And Japan, what does it represent?

For me…(she hesitates) it is the country that taught me a new culture, where I have seen the oddest things…

And Italy?

It is perhaps my favourite country even if I have never lived there, but it is the country of mom and dad, and of grandpas.

So do you feel Italian?

Sure, I feel Italian, more Italian than French.

But what do you prefer among France, Italy and Japan?

Well, I like Turin (her parents’ hometown) because it an ancient and interesting city.
I am attached to France because I was born there.
Maybe I prefer Japan because here I can be freer, it is a country where I feel safe and I must say at ease despite the forest of skyscrapers that surrounds me.

What has this life abroad given you?

Living abroad brings you to be culturally more open, you get to know a lot of new things, you are a bit different from your friends who never moved, you speak more languages…

And which language do you prefer to speak?

With whom?   With you? In Italian with you (I open my eyes in surprise, since I have to fight to have one of my daughters talking to me in Italian, even if they are perfectly bilingual, Italian-French), with my sisters in French (obvious, social and school life are just in French, since they go to the French school).

But what do you miss in living far from your family (grandparents, cousins)?

Certainly going to the park with grandma, not being able to play with my cousins when I feel like it, seeing them only from time to time. In a word, day to day life… but there is the phone and there are holidays.

And how do you feel at the idea of leaving again?

I am pleased because discovering a new country is interesting; I like traveling, knowing, discovering…

And when you grow up, you with all your dreams, where do you want to live?

Maybe in an exotic and warm country, why not Australia? I liked it a lot, even if I would probably not mind going to Japan.

Do you think mom and dad were right in choosing this kind of life?

Indeed I do!!

What would you like to say to the children that are going to be expat children?

That it is a wonderful thing, that they should not be sad, it is a fantastic experience that everyone should try!
Vera is a school friend of Emily at the international school in Skopje. Dutch, nine years old, Vera lived one and a half years in Pakistan, 4 years in Eritrea and almost 4 in Macedonia. Emily had fun interviewing her for Expatclic…

children see expatriation

Emily and Vera in Skopje

Which is the country you have lived in that you liked the most?

Eritrea, because there was an international school there, and during weekends I always went to the seaside, on the beach…

What struck you in each country you have visited?

I remember a horse-riding place where one could picnic and feed the horses…

Has it been difficult to make new friends?

Yes, a lot. Because I knew no one… and I didn’t know who was unpleasant and who was not!

Do you miss your friends?

Yes, because my friends always liked to play with me and they did everything I wanted! But I did not have a special girlfriend because there were only boys in my class…

How was living in Eritrea?

Very sad, because I had some girlfriends, but they never played with me…

Do you like living in Macedonia?

Yes, a lot, because I have plenty of friends and I go to an international school where I can speak English and also learn other languages.

Which language do you prefer speaking?

Dutch and English, because at home I speak Dutch, while at school and with my friends I speak English.

What is “home” for you?

My bed, my TV, my room, my bathroom and my dog…!

What do you like to do when you are in Holland?

Walk in the parks and visit my grandparents and cousins.
When you are in Holland, do you ever speak of your life “abroad” with your friends and cousins?

Yes, sometimes I do, but sometimes I forget about everything because I am enjoying myself so much!

Do you like this kind of life? Traveling, meeting many new persons, leaving others…?

Yes! Because one sees lots of new things, like, for instance the new dog of a friend, and things like that.

 

Emily, nine years old, has lived two and a half years in Armenia, three and a half in Pakistan, and she has now been living for two years in Macedonia, with more or less long periods in Berlin, the city where she was born and where we have our…“home”.

Which is the country you have lived in that you liked the most?

Pakistan, because I had lots of friends to play with every day. Days were always hot and sunny….

What struck you in each country you have visited?

In Pakistan the sight of the huge coloured trucks, especially in summer…

Was it difficult to make new friends?

Yes, it was. Because I knew no one…

Do you miss your friends?

Yes, especially my friend Louise because she was the dearest friend in the world! We both had the same experiences and lots of things in common.

children see expatriation

Louise and Emily in Islamabad

How was it to leave Pakistan?

Very sad. I even organized a farewell party with all my friends and also mom and dad’s friends…

And how do you feel about leaving Macedonia soon?

I am sad and happy at the same time… Sad because I have many dear friends to play with and happy because at school there are some kids that often tease me… (Emily had braces fitted two months ago, they should be invisible, but in fact…)

Which language do you prefer to speak?

German. With my dad, because it is a bit like music…!

And Italian…?

Well, yes, ok, I like it… I speak it with you, don’t I? (Emily very often talks to me in English, a language that she obviously adores… and she makes everyone laugh when she moves from the pure British accent to the “larger” American one!)

What is “home” for you?

I already told you, home is where we are! My TV, my bed, my radio, my toys and Binka.

What do you like to do when you are in Berlin?

I like to visit grandma Irma and make biscuits, and also to go around by bike with you and dad!!

When you are in Berlin or in Italy, do you ever talk about your life “abroad” with your friends?

No, never! I forget about it! Maybe yes, sometimes, but in general not…

And Italy? What does Italy mean for you…?

Well… In Rome there is grandma, the aunts, and lots of your friends with their children… I don’t know them all but I am glad if I know they are there! And in Cala Gonone (Sardinia) there is the sea and grandma, and at night we eat ice-cream and we go to bed late, I like it a lot!!

Do you like this kind of life? Travelling, meeting many new persons, leaving others…?

Yes, a lot! Because we always find new friends!

… wonderful expatchildren!!

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