American Dream or Italian Courage?

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June 3, 2014 by Italians in Chicago

babbaby Valeria Fanelli –

Barbara Cattabriga lived in Italy her entire life. She traveled the word, but didn’t experience a life abroad. Not until July 2012.

It was an ordinary day in Modena, when she received the news that her husband Roberto Rossi was offered a job position in the U.S. and the family would have moved to Chicago, for a new exciting experience.

Cattabriga, 48, started packing the bags, organizing the trip, taking care of the house in Italy as soon as she received the news.

“We received the proposal in March and we moved to Chicago in July 2012,” she said. “Chicago was a dream destination for us because we wanted to move to a place where our children would have had the possibility to earn a good education and develop International skills.”

In order to move to the U.S. Cattabriga had to quit her job and leave a position that she covered for almost 30 years.

“I worked as an accountant for over 20 years and all of a sudden I had to quit my job and move to a country where I did not even speak the language,” Cattabriga said. “It was exciting but scary at the same time.”

Since the family moved to Chicago, the first challenge they had to face was the language barrier.

“Once in the windy city, the first thing I did was enrolling an ESL course at College of DuPage. I knew that if I wouldn’t have improved my English skills, I would have never gotten integrated in this country,” she said.

The family chose to live in Naperville, about 30 miles far from downtown Chicago. They enrolled their children in excellent schools and started their new American life.

“It was shocking to me how different it was to live in a place so far away from a big city. Except for my English classes, there wasn’t much to do for me in Naperville,” she said. “After a few months, I knew that I needed to push myself a little bit further and start looking for a job.”

Cattabriga packed her courage and started facing the American job market. She said she was concerned that she would have not being accepted because she was a foreigner. But soon, she found a job for an Italian based company that was looking for somebody with her skills and expertise.

“It was a perfect match,” she said. “I could not believe they hired me instead of an American. They gave so much importance to the work I did in Italy and they appreciated every single experience I had on my resume.”

Cattabriga said she was very excited to start this new adventure in an American office. She knew that working in Chicago it was not going to be easy and everything would have been extremely different from what she did previously as an accountant. But the excitement of starting a new chapter of her career was big enough to push her moving forward and starting the new job.

“The first challenge for me was the commute to work. It takes me between one and two hours to get to work, but I do not mind anymore. Here in the U.S. is very frequent for people to live far from their work place and they are used to spend part of their day in the car in order to reach their job place,” she said.

Cattabriga also said distances in the U.S. are longer than in Italy and she is comfortable now to use her car often.

“You get use to it and you start loving it! One of the first things I did here after I moved here was getting a car. Now I cannot live without my SUV,” she said.

Cattabriga said she is still dreaming about going back to Italy at one point. She did not forget the beauties of her country and she would like to bring some of her overseas experience back home and give a contribution to Italy’s development.


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