My Expat Story: Dominika Miernik
A Polish expat in Rome, Italy.
Dominika Miernik is a seasoned expat from Poland who lived in Rome, Italy and Manchester, U.K. She moved from a small town in Poland to study psychology at the University of Rome. She worked in positions related to recruitment, counseling, and customer service on the international labour market. Dominika repatriated to Rome two years, ago and she is enjoying her life under the Italian sun and looking for her next expat adventure. This is her Expat Story.
What is your favorite part of expatriate life?
There are various parts I’ve enjoyed and still enjoy, like the opportunity to learn Italian, explore different cultures, see new places, meet wonderful people. I like the fact that I can read books in three languages, explore different points of view. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to study and work abroad.
What has been the hardest part?
When I moved from Poland to Italy and started my University there the hardest part was studying in a foreign language and making new connections. However, I was young at that time and every obstacle was a challenge to me, an opportunity to learn something new. It taught me how to be independent and organize my time. I was also working while studying. I was very proud of myself at the end.
The second hardest moment came when I and my partner moved to the U.K. I was enthusiastic about our move and I thought I would adapt quickly to the new country as I moved before, but the reality was different to me. Leaving the Italian sun and ending up in the Mancunian rain wasn’t so easy at the end. It took me one year to overcome let’s say intercultural shock and come back on track with my career. I thought that I was stronger I must admit, instead, I felt very vulnerable. Adapting to a new job market, transitioning into a new job position was challenging.
Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
I am a seasoned expat now. I lived in three countries so far. I moved from to Poland to study in Rome, Italy. I also lived and worked in Milan, Italy and Manchester, U.K. I think of myself as an expat student, career expat and love expat. I am also a repatriate as I and my partner came back to Rome after five years of living in Manchester.
My favorite place is definitely Rome and it will always have a special place in my heart. You can ask me what is my favorite place in Rome? There are too many beautiful places here and I love them all.
Every country and city in which I lived gave me something. I am attracted to Paris and I love Venice. It can seem strange but at the end, I like also Manchester, it has an entrepreneurial spirit.
Where would you want to move to eventually?
My dream is to move for a few months to Venice and then to France. Sometimes I think about how it will be to come back to Poland. However, I am open to every possibility and opportunity, so who knows. After more than ten years of my expat adventure I like to see myself as a globe-trotter, an entrepreneurial expat traveling around the world.
What’s your sense of ‘home’?
For me, every city and country I lived in is my home. So, I have many homes to go. The most important home is Poland of course, my family lives there, some of my friends and I grew up there. The second home is Rome, my partner is from here, I built my new friendships here, I am familiar with the language and the culture and I feel at home in Rome. For me a sense of home is knowing the city you live in, building new friendships or family, knowing where the best pizza is… I also think of Manchester as my third home for all the opportunities and challenges this city gave me.
What has been the most helpful thing in adapting to your home abroad?
The international and national community were always very helpful for me. When I moved to Italy I was immediately immersed in the Italian culture and language, however, I also built friendships with some Polish students, and we helped each other to overcome intercultural challenges. When I lived in the U.K. I started to volunteer first for the Polish organization, and then with the local one. Volunteering helped to make new contacts, explore more about the country and developed new skills for the local job market.
I think being curious about the country you are living in, asking questions, researching the country, before your move are very important and useful steps. Learning the local language makes everything easier.
Share anything else about your expat life that you’d like us to hear!
I am really grateful for every international experience I had. For me, it was and is a very enriching experience. The unexpected part is that, after we came back to Rome a few months later I missed the rainy Manchester. My expat experience taught me how to be flexible, resilient and be gentle with myself while in transition. Today I am a Career Coach and I help others seeking to make an international career change to navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with discovering their dream career and then adapting to a new country. I run a blog and podcast where I share my tips about international life and career challenges (www.dmcoaching.eu).
[Image courtesy of Dominika Miernik]
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