As you may have read from my last post, I was not too happy when I left home. I love Naples so much, it was challenging to find another place I could call home.
And when I moved to York, the cultural shock was immense. So huge, I was miserable for more than two years, maybe three (you should see how many times I changed my hair color, actually you can see it lower down).
This is not the post to get into the why or how.
This wants to be a post on what I see when I look back, and why I am glad I spent four years there. What did I learn? Here a non-exhaustive list of eye-opening lectures.
Respect for others and for oneself
I never knew whether it was just politeness or actual caring. However, the respect Brits show for everyone taught me that also unpleasant situations can be handled with kindness.
Of course, if you are a foreigner, you don’t understand that situation is unpleasant, because nobody tells you. It would have been useful to attend a “Reading between the lines 101” class, before starting.
Mental health issues can hide in plain sight
Four years in the UK taught me that mental health is not a joke. On the contrary, it is serious as hell. You never know what is going on in another person’s mind, and you always need to respect that. And be kind.
Importance of solitude
Well, I had to learn to live with myself – and only myself – for a long time. And well, I did it, and I found it enlightening.
It was not easy, and I think it was particularly tricky being Neapolitan, but I learned so much about who I am and who I want to be.
Being alone gave me the time and the opportunity to discover new passions (like scicomm), curiosities (I took Arabic classes) and interests.
Caring is not always saying
Sometimes not telling people what to think and giving them the freedom to be themselves and making their own mistakes is the best way to show them that you care. As long as you stick around.
I changed my hair color many times, and nobody tried to talk me out of it or express their concerns. It was my business and they knew it.
This experience changed me, it changed the way I look and interact with others, and how I now tiptoe when meeting new people. I have – of course – a different background, and I love that I can integrate what I’ve learned in the UK with what I am carrying with me from Naples.
This post wants also to be a thank you – from the bottom of my heart – to the people that shared the past four years with me. I may have not appreciated many things at the time because I just couldn’t understand them.
I now know it would have been a different adventure if I had understood from the beginning.