Migrant for Love: Ricardo Carvalho
Some migrate for political reasons, others for work, but the really lucky ones do it for love. This may sound like the ending of a Hollywood film, but leaving your country to be with your significant other can be a harsh and distressing experience. Cutting ties with your home country, packing up your life and readjusting to a new language, culture and city are all colossal tasks. Often the true impact of your decision only hits after you move, when the excitement wears off, everything starts to sink in and you’re left to decide what to do next … But one thing at the time—first we have to meet the main characters of our story …
The Beginning …
Ricardo Carvalho, our IC Specialist at Metrohm Italiana, spent a year in Morocco where he was doing a joined project within his PhD in the Laboratory of Chemical Analysis at the Faculty of Science and Techniques, Hassan II University, Mohammadia. After a year of «intensive» lab work, as can be seen in the photo to the left, he returned home to Portugal just to find out for his surprise that his housemate was gone and in his place was a young Italian Erasmus student named Luca.
At this point, Ricardo hardly knew that this likeable and carefree Calabrese student would be the one to introduce him to Amelia, the green-eyed, blonde-haired Neapolitan girl that would turn Ricardo’s life upside down.
Living in Portugal
When Amelia took the plane to Portugal just 2 months before, she thought that her year in Portugal would give her the possibility to open her cultural horizons, finish her double degree in Biotechnology and enjoy all that feeling of freedom that only a long stay in a new country can give you. Let’s just say that she got more than she bargained for.
When Ricardo talks with his friends about the moment they met, and mentions the phrase «love at first sight» they smile and say «who knows, maybe». You can’t put your finger on what makes this person different from all of the rest. And while «love» can be a strong word, you know that there is something in your heart that makes you like this person a whole lot more than all the other people that have crossed your path.
After two wonderful years of living together, the time to say goodbye had arrived. Amelia had just finished her studies and had to return to Italy in order to defend her thesis. It’s easy to tell yourself that everything will fall into place, and a long-distance relationship is nothing that one can’t handle. They said that eventually the routine would make the distance feel smaller and easier to bear. With Skype or WhatsApp, your loved one is literally a click away.
In spite of all the gadgets and technology, the raw truth, which they have learned in the hardest way possible, is that all of that time spent apart from each other is really hard and puts a lot of stress on a relationship. But it’s also true that, in the end, your relationship will come out stronger than ever.
Time to Make a Change
After six harsh months of living apart, the decision was made: Ricardo had decided to move to Italy.
It might sound pessimistic, but the trick to surviving a life-changing experience like this is to be honest with yourself and your partner. They have a much easier ride than you; it is their country after all. The best advice Ricardo can give us is: «If you don’t speak the language, get lessons.» There’s nothing more isolating than not being able to understand the people around you. It’s also important to keep an open dialogue with your partner. They need to understand your frame of mind to be able to support you. At the same time, try to regain the same level of independence you had in your home country. It’s inevitable that those cultural quirks that once seemed cute will become annoying. «In my case, there was only so much pasta and pizza I could eat before I started to miss the taste of mamma’s Portuguese recipes», says Ricardo.
Arriving at Metrohm
Finding a job should be your first priority. It’s not all about the money. You’ll be surprised at how easily a job can boost your confidence and sense of independence. Asking Ricardo how he remembers his job interview at Metrohm Italiana, he says he doesn’t even remember if he spoke in English or with a mix of Portuguese/Italian. One thing he can’t forget is the kind and cordial way that Claudio Palmieri (Metrohm IC Manager) received him at his office. Ricardo can still not stop thanking Claudio for having the foresight to look past the language barrier and was brave enough to give him a precious (risky) chance at Metrohm as an IC specialist. One might say that this was the decisive step that led to Ricardo’s definitive stay in Italy.
Getting this job was so important because the hardest but most important thing you have to do when arriving in a new country is to find your own reason for living there. Your partner cannot be the only thing that ties you to a place. If you hate everything about your new country and are only there to make your partner happy, you may become bitter and your relationship could fail. You need to accept that you’ve moved and you need to make your own ties and your own peace with your new country. Ricardo says that Metrohm Italiana was not the reason for his coming to Italy, but for sure is one of the reasons he stayed. In absence of his friends, it was the colleagues at Metrohm that somehow were able to fill the void and make the transitions to another country much easier. If you learn to love your new home, work and friends, you will find that life will become a lot easier.
Happily Ever After …
One might say that a fairy tale should always end with a happily ever after, but in these case, Ricardo and Amelia’s journey together is just beginning. After a rough first two years with a lot of sacrifices and hard work, life became easier and our couple made the decision to get married. Of course they couldn’t do it the easy way and had the crazy idea of getting married in Portugal at the same university they met five years before. Let’s just say that the adventure of organizing an Italian wedding in Portugal would be more than enough for another article but, to cut it short, we leave you with a photo. As they say, an image is worth more than a thousand words.