Teenage emigration #2: Lara's story, 17, Turkey.

Lara moved to Italy this year and is now studying in the IB international program at the Vittoria High School in Turin.
Alikberova Aksinia

Disclaimer: the text contains informal language and personal opinions, based on the unique experience of the teenager. Opinions can vary and a lot of things can be argued. But my goal is to share actual personal stories, which often mention various points of view on living in a particular country and so on. So, it’s important to shape your own opinion and not take anything as an immutable truth. 

Where are you from and when did you move to another country?

I’m from Turkey and I moved to Italy this summer. Me and my family moved to Italy, because one of its members works here.

What are you going to do in the future?

I’m planning to stay in Italy and study architecture or apply to another university in Europe since my home country doesn’t offer a good education. I want to use my education to get into a better place, therefore I could take care of my family.

How does your life look right now? How hard was it to switch to another language?

Now I study in Liceo Vittoria’s IB program. Currently I study italian and the language of studying in my school is English. Before we moved I didn’t learn italian, so now I have a beginner level of knowledge of Italian language, but I definitely see progress. In the very beginning of this school year I considered my English skills to be good, but not enough in a certain way. But I can say it is a lot better now.

What were your expectations?

 My main expectations before I emigrated were to be perceived as a well-educated person while getting used to and connecting to a different culture.

Do you face any problems connected to your emigration now?

Unfortunately, sometimes I feel racism and it breaks my heart when I see and hear from people who don’t even know anything about Turkey and its culture making bad comments about my motherland. It is also hard to adapt, especially taking into consideration the fact that people are not usually very welcoming. It makes it even harder than it already is. But I have my reasons and motivation to work and study hard, thus it doesn’t affect me that much.

Are there any similarities and differences with your motherland?

There are some similarities to my home country of course. But for discrepancies, I noticed that people’s sense of humour and the way they communicate is quite different from what I am used to. I can’t say that I have some particular troubles with communication with locals, they are mostly very kind. Maybe not as welcoming as people of my culture and country, but still.

What do you like here, in Italy?

There are some things about Italy that I like. For instance, strict laws and disciplined people (roads and time management). For the road rules, Turkey is a “do-all-you-want-country”, well in some cases at least. They have similarities with Italian culture in some cases like being fervent. Especially on the roads. They usually don’t stop when they see the zebra crossing for the people passing the road or don’t go according to the speed limit.

Food: Italy vs Turkey

Food is absolutely amazing in Italy of course too. Turkish food tends to give the fool taste, it’s not delicate and soft. They are mostly truly spicy or extremely sweet. So the most shocking thing here was that the food taste wasn’t as spicy generally. But I can’t say I don’t like it. I like the soft melting texture of the food here.

Describe your process of adaptation

My process of adaptation is tough. I had to get used to everything since the culture is extremely different. Still I can say that I’m getting used to it. In my homeland everything is easy, especially the paperworks. But here to do something it takes time and patience. Also for stores, in my country stores stay open from 9 to 10 and here everything closes a lot earlier.

What is your advice for all the teenagers who are going to study abroad?

My advice to every teenager who is going to emigrate for education purposes or for anything else is to be prepared for not understanding a lot of things around you and not to expect local people to really understand the way you think. The culture you are used to can be different from theirs and that’s the beauty of it. Be patient, be strong. It’s not easy and don’t expect it to be. You are going to cry, miss your hometown, think you are the most lonely person in the world but it’s going to get a lot better. When the hard part is over you will start seeing the beauty of it and become a stronger and better version of yourself.”