In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Barbara Bier, a vivacious expatriate who has traded the vibrant rhythms of Brazil for the timeless elegance of Italy; join us as she shares the fascinating story of her journey from the sunny beaches of Brazil to the chaotic and glamorous Milan in our article “Reveiling the Expat Lifestyle: Interview with Barbara Bier”.
Barbara’s story is not just a geographical transition, but a cultural metamorphosis; she chronicles the challenges and joys of adapting to the Italian lifestyle.
Discover the unique blend of Brazilian warmth and Italian charm that Barbara brings to her daily interactions.
Through her experiences, she lets us understand the similarities and differences between these two distinct cultures, exploring how she juggles culinary delights, social dynamics and the art of bonding in her new homeland.
Get ready for a captivating look at the life of an expatriate who is gracefully bridging the gap between two worlds, celebrating the richness of diversity and the beauty that emerges when cultures collide.
Barbara’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of embracing new perspectives and finding a home in unexpected places.
Hi Barbara, tell us a little about yourself, your “expat” life and what brought you to Italy!
My name is Barbara Bier, I am 35 years old and I come from Novo Hamburgo, a small town in the South of Brazil.
I come from a family of Italian people and I’ve always heard stories of when my great-grandmother made the boat crossing to seek her fortune overseas.
So I grew up dreaming of getting to know all these wonderful places that I heard so much about.
It should be pointed out that I am the daughter of divorced parents and I’ve always had a very close relationship with my father, who decided, in 2002, to change his life too, by moving to Italy (irony of fate!).
In short, in December 2005, as soon as I finished high school and before starting college, I asked my parents if I could do a year in Italy with my father.
My goal was to learn the language and take a vocational course and then return home with a greater cultural background and more chances to find a job that would allow me to advance my career.
But things turned out differently and I never returned home…I found my place in the world!
What were the biggest difficulties you encountered on this life-changing journey?
It was complicated to leave all my lifelong friends, my grandparents, my mom and my brother.
I had to start over by building a daily routine day by day.
I enrolled in a swimming class and I was taking volleyball lessons at the oratory and there I started to meet people my own age, although I had a lot of difficulty communicating since I had not yet learned Italian!
With language, how did you do? How long did it take you to understand and be understood?
As I said before, it was not easy!
I arrived here with my school English and without saying half a word in Italian.
My father was a great help in this, always urging me to throw myself headlong into the language to learn it as quickly as possible.
I will never forget when the first month here, he asked one of his fruit vendor friends to keep me with him all morning working!
People would turn to me asking for “1kg of oranges,” “Give me 10 artichokes,” and meanwhile pointing to the produce….
So by mental association I began to connect and learn.
What do you think about Italy? What are the positive and negative aspects of living in this country?
Italy is now, for me, home.
Here I have had many opportunities for professional growth, but also personal growth.
I find many positive aspects, especially regarding security.
I come from a very raw and violent reality, where we walk the streets in fear.
Another thing I find exemplary is the public health system, which works relatively well compared to the Brazilian public system, where let’s say if you don’t have private insurance you are left to chance.
Also transportation works very well (I am talking about Milan, to be clear); I could easily not use a car because I can get anywhere by train, subway or bus.
Negative aspects? Maybe only the distance from my loved ones; it is difficult to go back to Brazil every year given the cost and the length of the trip.
What do you deal with in life? Do you think you would have had the same opportunities in Brazil?
I work with digital marketing!
After the pandemic I decided to jump into the entrepreneurial world and I’ve decided to freelance!
I’m a content manager for a sports magazine, I manage some social profiles on behalf of companies and in my spare time I dabble by writing about my travels in my blog Wanderlust in Travel.
I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities in Brazil, I probably would have ended up doing a job behind a desk, going to the office every day or following in my parents’ footsteps in Brazil (they are both lawyers).
I would have had a completely different life, in short.
Do you miss Brazil and your family? You go back to see them often?
A lot, especially I miss my family.
I still have a living grandmother and every time I see her, I wonder if it will be the last one…at that age you never know, unfortunately.
I try to return once a year, although it is not always possible for economic reasons (extremely expensive flights).
What are your plans for the future?
Let’s say that I am living my dream: I am working with what I like and I am able to have time to enjoy life.
Maybe as I get older I would like to slow down and live more in contact with nature and animals. I’ve always thought about living a farm in Tuscany, who knows, someday maybe!
“I want to change my life”: what is the difference between Barbara who left in 2005 and decided to change her life, and Barbara in 2024?
We are two different people!
Barbara of 2005 was a little girl, full of dreams and full of emotions.
She was not afraid of the unknown and threw herself into any project, living her choices to the fullest (even making mistakes).
Today I am more aware and more mature.
I also understand that some mistakes made in the past are what made me the woman I am today.
For me, moving was not just a life change, but a personal rebirth.
I feel very fortunate to have made this journey, going back to my roots! It makes me smile to think that I took the reverse path of my great-grandmother and “went back to her home”!
What advice would you give to someone who would like to make this life change and move to another country?
The advice I would give is to jump right in.
Every trip you take adds something to you, so no opportunity is lost.
Look for jobs in the country you dream of, make arrangements to go and then try to enjoy every moment….
And, if it doesn’t work out… well, you can always come back home!
Thank you Barbara!
Your words and your story are invaluable to us at lifestylemind.com!
If you want to know more about our friend Barbara, you can follow her on social media:
and in her travel blog: https://www.wanderlustintravel.com/
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