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Expat Stories

Expat Interview – Federico: Culture Shock? Understanding The Culture Is Key

Culture shock? Not really... Expats are usually very open to facing new cultures. Federico already discovered 4 different cultures and tells us what he learned during his time abroad.

Usually I'm writing a short introduction about the expat of this interview... but Federico introduced himself so well that I will just keep what he said:

My life started with the immigration history that my Italian parents have done to Germany in the 80s. Freiburg im Breisgau is the city where I was born and where I lived for 17 years. At the age of 17 as the only member of my family I decided to do the reverse immigration that my parents have done and I moved to Italy. In Italy I attended my International Business studies, I met my wife and I started my first “real” job.

I am 34 years old now, I try to be a super dad, a super husband and in my professional life I am a relationship builder (this is my definition of Sales). One of my passions coincides with my job, I love humans and I love building relationships with them at all levels. I am passionate about the topic freedom and how flexibility in your job, financial freedom, permaculture, a positive mindset and courage can free you from "modern slavery".

Federico's Expat Story

As I studied your CV I know that you did your studies in Italy and some years ago you lived in Germany and even Indonesia. How was this first experience abroad and even outside of Europe?

All my experiences abroad have something in common, they strengthen my ability to adapt to unknown environments and they raised my consciousness that a higher understanding of cultures is one of the main keys to establish high quality relationships. I was raised biculturally and bilingually ITA-GER, so the cultural shock curve I experienced moving to Italy – already knowing the language and the culture – was definitely smoother than the high fluctuating “positive” curve I experienced living and working outside of Europe.

It’s important for me to mention that in Indonesia I lived with a muslime family and that a better understanding of this religion, helped me in better understanding that stereotypes (related in general to cultures), originate both from the distortion of communication and from the simplification of the reality. Here you go with an example where the intercultural communication between Germans and Italians has been simplified:

“Die Deutschen lieben die Italiener, sie schätzen sie aber nicht. Die Italiener schätzen die Deutschen, sie lieben sie jedoch nicht”.

This means that the Germans love the Italians but they don’t value them and the Italians value the Germans but they don’t love them. For the masses, this reality is the easiest to accept, but I personally learned to value the Italians and love the Germans with a higher understanding of both cultures.


And now you’re living in Spain after being back to Italy for a while. Why did you decide to take this step (again)? What was different this time?

Because during six month of paternal leave I had a lot of time to think about my life and I came to the conclusion that I want to raise my son in an international environment with many professional opportunities and a chill mediterranean lifestyle. I talked with my wife about this idea, she supported it and we ended up choosing Barcelona for resetting our lives.

This time, like always, everything is different. Two new languages to learn (Spanish and Catalan), new culture, new job and almost 8 years older or wiser ;) But taking a deeper look to what my real philosophic thought about this question is, a place doesn't change you, if you did not change before moving.

You say "a place doesn't change you". What about the culture or the people?

In my opinion, culture enriches you and it might change you. What I mean is if you don't apply the accumulated knowledge in daily life, you haven't changed, because your actions are still the same. "Both knowledge and culture are nothing without action."

People change you definitely, this is why a popular saying is: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

I saw that before moving abroad you’ve been working in the same company for about 7 years. Did you just need a change?

Yes, I felt like I was in a rat race and I needed to work with a company rather than for a company. Thanks to books and mentors I developed a mindset of abundance rather than letting a reality of scarcity become mine. So I reached the consciousness that with the power of thoughts, out there I can realise whatever I want and that my dreams and utopy are what has to be done. A natural consequence of this interior evolution was that I decided to quit my previous job.

living in barcelona

Did you move to Barcelona after already finding a job or did you have to keep looking once you arrived?

I found a job in a call center for a sales position before moving. Call centers in Barcelona are a great way to move to this city in order to do all the papers (tax number, insurance, a.s.o.) and you want to quickly get a temporary job while getting the paperwork done. Call centers are also a good opportunity to gain experience in professional life if you are young or inexperienced. The call center is the place where I had to start again from 0.

Where did you look for jobs?

LinkedIn, Glassdor, Google search.

You speak Italian and German at a native level, have you been looking for jobs where you need both language skills or did you have a preference? Do you think it’s easier to find a job when you speak several languages?

I was looking for jobs where you need German, because in Barcelona there is a bigger offer for native German speakers and the salaries are higher. Italians are the biggest community in Barcelona (30k officially registered), so I decided to not compete in this “red ocean” and preferred to jump in a “blue ocean”.

Do you think you might go back to Italy one day?

For now it’s not in my plans, maybe when I’m retired with 45 ;)

And to finish this part, what was the best experience you made while living abroad?

I would say that there is not just one specific experience. What is fascinating me about living abroad, is how it enriches your social intelligence, your mindset, your language skills and your cultural heritage.

social intelligence

Federico & Next Station

As far as I know you applied to one of our jobs on LinkedIn. Did you know us before?

I didn't. I applied for a job I found on Linkedin, and Next Station was the intermediary.

What did you think when you first signed up on the Next Station platform?

Please not another platform that asks for tons of information, I’m tired! Sorry for being so straightforward.

We appreciate your honesty! As it was not the first time that you were looking for a job, did we make your life at least a bit easier?

During the lockdown in Spain, I did almost 50 job interviews. I would not say it’s Next Station itself that made my life easier, it's an employee that has a specific name with a mindblowing empathy and savoir faire with humans that made the difference. Her name is Ella Baer and I wish I had more exchanges of resources (interviews) with HR professionals of substance and with her depth.

How would you describe Next Station? Maybe in only 3 words?

Your Employees Rule.

Do you want to share something more with us or our readers? :)

Never give up while searching for a job also when you start having nausea while reading job descriptions. And last but not least – especially in this particular moment of history – always remember that optimism wins over all, for you, for your family and for all those who love you!

Great insights, don't you think? A small thought to think about in the end: Did you know that many expats experience a "reverse culture shock" once they decide to move back to their home country? Could it be the same for you?

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