Moving to a new country
I am now feeling at least partially settled in my apartment in Trento. Reading about the massive migrations into Europe and seeing video of unorganized self-evacuation in Syria has made me reflect on the experience of relocation. Of course, my experience has almost nothing in common with that of refugees fleeing war. I am temporarily in Italy, taking advantage of the opportunity that the Fulbright award has provided me, with a steady income and the support of CUNY and the University of Trento, of the U.S. and Italian governments, the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), and the Fulbright Scholarship Program. But still, the transition has been challenging, and it leaves me in disbelief of the courage of others leaving their countries under immeasurably more difficult circumstances. I’ve realized that even small things add up to make a transition more difficult. I speak only a bit of the language, I’m unfamiliar with the systems here, and there are lots of small things to do as I settle. Somehow these things added up to me taking almost a week to tell someone the heat and hot water weren’t working in my apartment, longer than that to figure out how to operate my washing machine, and longer still to make sense of the complex recycling system. It has taken me much longer that it would at home to get around to dealing with little things, like getting a mail key or a cafeteria card. On top of this, I’ve missed home and the people I left there. Thankfully I’ve made friends here who are helping with these little things, and it is so much easier with the help of people who speak the language and understand the systems. The University of Trento welcome office has helped with everything university and immigration-related. So I am not saying that my situation has anything in common with those of refugees, but that the experience of relocation has heightened my empathy for their situations, and my appreciation of the importance of services and welcoming people to helping the newly arrived feel at home. By the way, I finally understand the quirks of my washing machine (requires manual advancement twice during the cycle, then to be manually switched off at the end, following by waiting at least 15 minutes, before you can remove your clothing…)
Oh, and I have been chastised by my webmaster for not updating my blog frequently enough, now aim to update it at least weekly!