It was exactly ten years ago. The day after my graduation ceremony I packed my brand-new blue suitcase, my big blue rucksack, put all my money (300 euro) in my wallet and flew from Sicily to a very small village in the North-East of England. I had a copy of a 1-year job contract and a map from the local train station to the local hotel.
The village was so small it was not on Google maps, so I had to print the map sent by the hotel. I flew to London and took a train going North, then a local train and finally after twelve hours I reached my destination. A very small deserted countryside station in the middle of nowhere, under a grey sky. I crossed the pedestrian bridge to exit the station and looked at the village in the distance: a handful of low houses with their gardens, in tidy rows, around a small square, with a pharmacy, a convenience shop and a barber.
During the interview, which was held in Sicily a few months earlier, the interviewers told me: “Are you sure you would like it there? It rains all the time, and there is nothing there apart from the industrial site.” I wanted a job, I wanted to learn English (after studying English at school for about ten years I still could not understand much), and I was growing up in a country where you are taught that if somebody is giving you a job, they are doing you a favour. I said yes, no problem at all. And I haven’t regretted it.
There was a problem though. It did rain, and it was cold, at the end of July. And shops closed at 5pm, I was at work from 9 to 5, and I didn’t have a car to go shopping at lunch time, so I had to wait until the first weekend to go and buy some warmer clothes and weatherproof jacket.
(to be continued…)