Getting the Gig

       The second most common question I get asked about moving to Italy is, “How did you get this job?” (The first is, “Why are you going,” and the third is, “Are you sure they aren’t going to sell you into the sex trade?” Happy to say, no, no they are not going to do that.)

       Back in early May, as I sat in the tech lounge in the Media Arts lab for the umpteenth hour waiting for my video edits to render, I started to map out my trip to London. I’d already pinned every tourist site and random landmark I’d been dreaming about on my British Bucket List board on Pinterest, so I figured I could start to plan my trip.

       Somehow I got on a tangent and remembered that two of my friends had gotten nanny jobs in Turkey and Spain. I messaged them on Facebook and they both said they used the same website to find their jobs. My curiosity piqued, and video still rendering, I decided to put off doing my international reporting homework and start making a profile on the site. 30 minutes later, I was all signed up for - and my homework was still waiting to be finished.

       With only two weeks remaining in my final semester of college, I hurried to finish my last remaining assignments, get my graduation application together and of course – decorate my graduation cap. My family and friends came to see me graduate. After the excitement of graduation day wore off, and the reality of finding a job sunk in, I begrudgingly opened my email and started sifting through the hundreds of emails that I just refused to look at. The one that caught my attention was from my au pair site, and in bright red letters told me that I had a message from Sabine Antonini in my au pair inbox.

       Earlier, when I had made my profile on the site, the jobs that I was seeing were ones to take care of 3 or 4 children ages 4 and under. I don’t know how women do this. Four children under four?? No, thank you! There are women, much stronger and more brave than I, that elect to have three under three. If you are a woman with this bravery reading this right now, I say hats off to you, and I don’t know how you do it. You are a rockstar.

       But, as a 23 year old who really values sleep and netflix, I automatically said, “NOPE,” to any of the families that fell under this category. If I’m being honest, my first thought when seeing I had an actual message from someone was, “Great, some lady with probably a million small children offering to pay me close to nothing to attempt to teach them English.”

       As I sifted through Sabine’s profile, they were the perfect family. Two children, ages 7 and 10. They did many after school activities, had au pairs before and the photos of the home looked beautiful. What I wasn’t stoked on was Italy. I had my heart set on England, but after reading her message the family seemed too good to be true.

       After a month of messaging back and forth, we skyped and decided that we were both a good fit.

       So began the nightmare that was procuring a visa. Sabine needed me for the school year, and with my American Passport the longest I could stay in Italy without a visa was 90 days. Sabine knew of a class that many other au pairs in the city take, and it was enough to get me a study visa for the next 8 months, added with my 90 days gave me 11 months to be in Italy.

       Getting the visa was the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. Literally every person who I talked to told me something different, even the study abroad office at the University of Montana was zero help. I don’t know how, but after emailing every single email listed on the San Francisco Italian Consulate website, I got a reply that led me to Elvira Roncalli.

Elvira is the only reason that I’m sitting here at this table, drinking red wine and watching the sunset behind the villa’s gates and ivy arches. She answered every question, helped me send in my application to the consulate and patiently watched as I color coded and double checked every single item on the visa application list. Nervously I mailed my passport off August 5th and prayed that it would return to me on time so I could leave for London.

       Naturally, it didn’t.

       $40 for an overnight envelope and one solo subway ride from Queens to Brooklyn, I finally had my passport in hand and visa securely fastened in the pages. I’ve been in Italy for two weeks and I’m still trying to adjust to this new life. Every day is a learning experience and I would be lying to say that it’s all been easy. Moving to an entirely new country has been the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding.

       I found a quote a little while back by Max DePree that goes, “We cannot become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” To someone like me who didn’t know what I wanted to become or who I wanted to be, taking a big leap of faith seemed like the most logical path. So, if any of you feel the need to make a change or want to know more about how to be a nanny in a different country, send me a message, leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to help you on your journey.

Fino alla prossima volta,
(Until next time)

Brooke Johnston4 Comments