Saturday, 14 April 2018

Identity


In my family we all have two nationalities: Italian and British. I feel very comfortable with it, but as it is always the case with something double, it can be tricky.

I have been studying English culture, language and literature since high school (my English teacher was topnotch, we studied Shakespeare, the Romantic poets and T.S. Eliot in the original version) and travelled to England since I was a teenager. After school I graduated in English language and literature, so English culture was what I chose in the first place. The reason for this is maybe the fact that I find it engrossing and probably fits my mentality (or maybe I adapted my mentality to it, who knows).

Since I moved to England in 2007, I experienced the different aspects of the UK, first living in the north (Lancaster) and now in the south (Surrey). My body adapted to the climate, to the point that I don’t feel comfortable in Rome (my birthplace) anymore; it’s too hot or too humid for me, and inside it is cold in winter and suffocating in summer.

Food is a different question. Italian food is the best, of course, but I cook my own food and can find Italian products at supermarkets and deli shops, so I don’t miss it so much. Moreover, there are excellent Italian restaurants around. We always bring back some specialities when we visit Italy, but just because they are a bit cheaper there.

In England I could improve my English, start writing, attend painting classes and writing workshops, meet interesting people, upgrade my education with an MA and I am now studying towards a PhD. I had good job experiences, and, at times, good pay as well. Swearing the oath for the British citizenship ceremony was an emotional and binding moment, a promise I will keep.

At the same time I feel I have a certain freedom in the multi-ethnic British society, I can be Italian too. And this is what I like best. I am not only British, I am also Italian and vice versa. This is enriching, hugely rewarding mentally and culturally. Some people may think that limiting their views to one country, one culture, one mentality is the best way to protect their identity and nationality, to preserve their culture. This is not my opinion. I believe that though we need to acknowledge our background and respect our origins, we need to keep our mind open, because influences and connections between cultures are natural; it has always happened and can’t be stopped. And not only influences between languages and art, but also in practical skills like growing plants, manufacturing products and technology. This is the way the world goes, mainly for its own benefit.


I feel proud and lucky to have a double nationality. Nevertheless, looking at my children, I see that it can be a bit more problematic for them sometimes. They are bilingual, though their English is stronger, and deal with their ‘double identity’ in different ways. My eldest son is happily married with an English girl, they live and work in the north. He is part of an amateur football team and supports both Italian and English teams. My second one is very much influenced by her Italian background and now by her passion for Japanese culture, so maybe she is developing three nationalities in her identity, which is fascinating. My third one is probably the most British one (significantly his English is definitely better than his Italian) and he struggles to adapt to the notoriously shifting Italian rules. My autistic daughter Valentina was born in the Ukraine, lived in Italy for five years, then came with us to the UK. She definitely bends for England, the place where she has been cared for. I always say to them that having two nationalities is a strength not a weakness for their identity.

And I must say I love the Queen and am looking forward to the next royal wedding.