Worn down. Pragmatic. Realistic. Sorry. Confused. Worried. Sad.
I met them again, after nearly a year, at a recent event through the American Women's Association. They are both in their mid-twenties. American. In Rome for a few years trying to make their way -- one in fashion design, the other in business or an international organization. Both want a "future" for which they are willing to work hard, start at the bottom, learn, stretch, grow. Instead they struggle by with English lessons, secretarial tasks and translations while Rome captures and lulls their spirit. Both have Italian men to leave behind.
One talked to an Executive search agency, an international company with an office in Rome. The woman didn't smile. She leaned over her desk and told the smart, educated, energetic younger one to get out while she could. The expert was not encouraging at all -- "a prestigious BA is incomprehensible to the locals and even an MBA would not open doors on its own." Her only suggestion was to get some work experience back in the US and then try again, with a specific skill to sell. "This is not a place to start out" was the final sentence, which my young friend has sadly taken to heart.
The other is not so definite, but has already shipped back most of her things, at least for now. SHe has found opportunities elsewhere.
Arrivederci K and C.