We sat down for a quick chat with one of our fabulous team members, Erika, who recently became an Australian Citizen. We are so happy for Erika, who has been looking forward to this moment for quite some time.
Hi Erika, thanks for joining us for our Q&A segment! Firstly, let me start by congratulating you on your newly appointed status of Australian Citizen! How does it feel?
Thanks Sarah! It’s one of the best days of my life! It feels a bit unreal, still: I’ve only ever been just Italian until now, after all. But whenever it pops up in my mind that I actually am Australian, now, it fills me with joy!
How was the official ceremony? Were you emotional?
It was a very nice ceremony, lots of people. The speech from the representative of the Immigration Department was really inclusive, saying that we don’t have to stop speaking our native language or leave our background behind, because that’s what also enriches Australia and makes it the great country that it is. I was indeed a bit teary-eyed when I stood up and started to take the pledge, I had a bit of a frog in my throat, but I did manage to get to the end without sobbing!
What initially brought you over to Australia and how long have you lived here?
14 years, this year. I have dreamed of coming to Australia since I was 16. My Dad also would have wanted to come to live here and I remember watching documentaries on Australia on TV with him, when I was little. Life got in the way and he never made it to even visit Australia, but I turned my dream into a plan and I was finally granted my permanent residency visa in 2005 – it only took me 18 years (3 years altogether to obtain the visa)! And now, finally, with becoming an Australian citizen my life-long dream is complete – and yet, just beginning.
What do you miss most about Italy?
My family and friends, hands down – they are really the only thing I miss about Italy. I have found some of my favourite Italian food here in Australia, like Nutella, Sardinian sausage, burrata, etc. and I have also found a satisfactory pizza place, so I don’t miss Italian food – too much. And anyway, there’s such a variety of cuisines in Australia that I prefer to explore “new worlds”, rather than stick to what I already know.
What is your favourite part of Australia that you have travelled to?
I confess I haven’t travelled very much – I’m such a couch potato – except when my Mum and my Brother came to visit in 2007 and we went to Queensland. That was really great, especially the rainforests. I like the Blue Mountains a lot, I would like to try and go there more often. I do love Sydney as well, though, it’s got the best bits of a big city and the best bits of a small town: you can live in the suburbs and still get to the CBD easily by train – the best of two worlds.
What do you love most about living in Australia?
A lot of things: the amount of trees and sky that I see around me, the sea (although I don’t think I make the most of it, but just knowing that it’s only 20 minutes away on foot is a balm for the soul), the way people don’t power walk everywhere all the time, like in Milan. And the birds!!! Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen the most incredible birds – within the city, not outside! You don’t get cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, kookaburras, ibises, owls, galahs, black swans and spoonbills in Milan! What I like the most, though, is that it’s like I’m always on holiday, working and retired at the same time: because I’m in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, close to the sea, I have a good job that I love and also the peace of mind that comes with living in a safe country, a country in which I want to spend the rest of my life.
What is your all-time favourite Aussie slang word?
“Ya flamin’ galah!” It always makes me laugh!
Finally, your honest thoughts on our iconic Aussie brand, Vegemite?
The first impact was… not good. But it all changed when I tried it with butter: now I always have a jar of Vegemite in my fridge. Love it.