By Giorgia Castelli, Michele Orlandi and Lucia Torlai
– New York? ShangHai? Buenos Aires? Sydney?
Everyone as a kid has dreamt of leaving their everyday life and jumping into a completely new reality.
But once we grow up, why exactly should we up sticks and head off into the foreign sunset?
Meeting new people and embracing new cultures is the starting point in broadening your perspectives and developing a global understanding.
Besides enhancing people’s knowledge and language skills, experiences abroad give rise to significant personal growth.
It’s not all wine and roses, however! There are quite a few social and economic aspects that need to be considered when choosing to live and work abroad.
Among european nations Italy is one of the countries with the highest rate of emigrants.
One of the aims of this research is thus to take a good look at the Italian migration process of students, or the so-called “intellectual migration”.
According to “Il Sole 24ore”, an Italian economics newspaper, over 100,000 Italian undergraduates and academics left their country in 2014, for studying or working purposes.
Of these, the most common age range was between 18 and 30 (36%). Almost 13% of these had doctorates.
Research also tells us that the preferred destination of Italian students is Great Britain, followed by the United States, France and Germany.
It is also worth mentioning that over half of those who go abroad are men, suggesting that women, especially mothers, are not always able to find better conditions away from home.
The Italian institute of statistics (ISTAT) records that young people mostly move to find a better qualified and well-paid job.
It also says that the migration flux increased steeply from 2011 onwards, highlighting the disastrous effects of the financial crisis that hit Europe during those years, reducing work opportunities and the quality of life.
A survey that we conducted at the LUISS Language Café showed that most of the students emphatically confirm the general belief about the dramatic situation in Italy.
But is going abroad always a good choice? Do Italian students actually find better conditions in other countries?
The European Commission says that 51% of Italians who study abroad with the “Erasmus” programme are hired immediately after their graduation.
As a matter of fact, according to an EU analysis, Italian students possess certain personality traits that are in strong demand by important companies. These include remarkable self confidence, energy, curiosity and determination. If they are appreciated abroad, one might argue that going abroad makes perfect sense.
Perhaps, then, this “exodus” is not all doom and gloom.
Another point is that many Italian students are inclined to stay in their homeland. As our survey of LUISS students shows, many of them still very much desire to live in Italy despite its complications, and would have no hesitation in recommending to their friends to come and live in Il Bel Paese.
There are also various projects that encourage both international exchange and the choice of staying in Italy.
One such initiative is Ermenegildo Zegna’s scholarships. The renowned Italian stylist offers LUISS students opportunities to study abroad, on condition that they promise to come back.
However, the main question that pops up in everyone’s mind is: “What do young people think other countries can offer more than Italy?”
The most frequent and plausible answer could simply be a significantly greater amount of work opportunities. Such opportunities are few and far between at home, given a static Italian mindset that does not allow either new graduates to merge with the labour market, because of a “lack of professional skills”.
In contrast, various studies conducted by Italian newspapers such as “Corriere della Sera” and “Il Giornale” have revealed that more than 50% of students that have had a working experience abroad wish to come back to Italy because they were not satisfied by the conditions there.
Nevertheless, our survey of LUISS students have shown different points of view:
Marta (24, a Management student) thinks that the United Kingdom can offer a more multicultural and open-minded society as well as a greater respect for state rules and laws, aspects that are less widespread in our country.
Luca (22, a Political Science student) is convinced that if you want to find patriotism, civic sense and organisation in society, you should head to the United States.
In other interviews it emerged that nowadays students do not believe there are enough working opportunities in Italy, especially due to the fact that our ruling class is almost totally composed of the elderly.
One consequence of this impasse is that the great majority of Italian students study and train with the sole objective of going abroad.
In the end, even though travelling for studying or working purposes is enriching, and offers a new perspective, wouldn’t it be nice not to find ourselves “forced” to make the decision to abandon our beautiful country, which is the envy of the entire world?
We asked LUISS students what could be improved to encourage young people to stay here?
Federica made an excellent observation, in our view. She said that the first step is to care more about our nation, and to truly believe in it.
There is indeed too much confusion between what Italy offers to its citizens and what it actually represents.
If we are seeking our dream country, that country could well be the one we are from. After all, as Samuel Johnson said: “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority”.
Not only does Italy offer good food, beautiful landscapes and an extraordinary heritage that exists nowhere else, but it also possesses a potential that is unparalleled and that must be fulfilled, by virtue of OUR effort and unwavering dedication to the cause.
WE are Italy, whether at home or away!