By Veruska Molino
- With EU graduates increasingly heading to the UK to find work, Veruska tells Grad Mag why she felt compelled to head from Italy to London.
Italian immigrants to the United States from 1890 onward became a part of what is known as “New Immigration”; the majority were farm labourers with no experience and textiles.
The philosopher George Santayana said "History repeats itself". Suitcases are not made from cardboard anymore, but every day thousands of boys and girls from Europe pack their belongings, say goodbye to their families and move to a different country searching for better opportunities. London is the destination.
The impetus came from Italy, Greece and Spain, where the economic crisis has opened the way for the departure of people of working age in the last years.
And I am one of them.
I enrolled in a Communication and Foreign Languages course, because I wanted to become a travel agent. I am from Sicily, yes Sicily, sun, hot, sea, cuisine, tourists from all over the world. I had everything planned. I graduated last November, but the work situation was difficult. My peers without a degree often work in the black economy and graduates barely find a job compatible with their qualifications. I worked in Italy for 450€ per month (around 360£), 10 hours a day, no contract and taxes. I thought it was perfect but after one month I said stop. I didn't have rights, they called me whenever, asked me to work more, no extra money. But I didn't want to stay at home forever, doing nothing.
London came to mind. My friends were excited about it, my parents absolutely negative; I was scared but I said to myself "I am 24, I have a degree that I can't use here. So it’s now or never". Flight booked, bags packed, parents in tears - but if I didn't do it I would have regretted it.
So in January I moved to London, alone, ready to start a new life.
I am not a person who thinks "I have a degree so I don't want to work hard", because I worked hard in London. I was a waitress in a busy pub in Trafalgar Square, running 47 hours a week for the minimum wage, paying taxes according to the contract; I paid all my expenses without asking for money from my parents and it was a fantastic feeling. I worked with a lot of wonderful people, graduates from Italy and Spain, we complained about the work, the shifts. Talking about our lives, we were agreed that our politicians should take this situation more seriously and it is clear they have failed. "We are not totally fine here but it could be worse at home". Incentives are the only way to bring back young talent.
Not to sound boastful but Sicily is going to invest 41 million euros to bring back young Sicilian talent who are working abroad - the support is coming from local private investors who will receive tax cuts in return.
After 7 months I quit the job in the pub: no holidays, no Sundays, nothing but work from 11am to midnight rushing to take the last train.
Again I felt the need to find something better, a job closer to my degree, a job that could give me stability.
I can't really say that I am a young talent, or a brilliant graduate but I had little or no prospects in Italy. Now I work as market research telephone interviewer, calling people and asking their opinions about our company. It isn't the job of my dreams, but this is London, full of experiences - make an effort and persevere and you have the chance to be what you want to be.
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