By Pietro Rossini with Maria Camila Luna
Traveling abroad, meeting new cultures, and living in a different environment is what Camila’s life looks like.
Maria Camila Luna was born in Colombia and raised there by her grandparents until she turned nine.
At that age, she reunited with her mother in Italy because “Italy for us in Colombia sounds like the moon,” she said for this interview on Zoom.
Camila during a holiday in Greece
In Italy, Camila studied middle and high school and also started university. So, her Italian is very fluent. It’s very hard to figure out that she is not an Italian native speaker.
When Camila turned seventeen, her mother had another child. Camila had to raise her new sister almost alone. “I had to put on a mum’s hat because my mother had to work hard for us,” Camila said. “I was working in three jobs, so I lost one year of school.”
Even though her dream is to become a nurse, she wasn’t able to pass the admission test for nursing at the university. Therefore, she opted for chemistry instead.
Camila studied in a language school for her high-school education. So, she is very fluent in many languages, but she had never studied biology, physics, or chemistry before.
Once she told her mother, “Mom, I think that chemistry is not for me!” and her mother replied, “Oh finally, you got it!”
Camila was first surprised at her mother’s reaction, but then she realized that that was the right moment to start following her dreams.
This opportunity came when her aunt, who was living in Atlanta, Georgia, told her about an au pair’s life in the U.S.
“I have always been attracted by American life. I always loved their ideal of family,” Camila said. “I didn’t dare to tell my decision to my mother, so my aunt did it instead.”
She finally decided to move to the U.S. in 2019 at the age of twenty-four. But before coming here, she had the chance to live two other important experiences abroad: the first one in Paris to improve her French and an intercultural and religious interchange in Turkey.
Camila in Turkey
“Although they were both very short experiences, I learned a lot about other cultures, religions, and new languages,” Camila commented.
When she first came to the U.S., her plan was to work as an au pair and improve her English for just one year. However, the pandemic hit in February 2020, and her au pair agency extended her term to stay in the U.S. for another 6 months.
“My first impact with the American culture was a shock,” Camila said, “I’m a very organized person, and I found that Americans leave many things undone.”
But then she commented, “I finally understood why! They have priorities; for example, if they have to be on time for an appointment, they leave the kitchen dirty because punctuality is more important for them!”
Camila’s plans started changing when she met an American guy. “I fell in love with him,” she said. This encounter made her choose to extend her term as an au pair for another year.
Camila in Boston
But Camila hadn’t planned this scenario: laws changed in Massachusetts right during the pandemic.
Before December 2019, au pairs were paid with their normal salary around $200 per week. Until the Massachusetts government, in the summer, established that au pairs should be treated as minimum-wage workers instead.
So, with this new law, Camila would have earned way more than she had before. However, her former host family chose to leave the au pair project instead. “I was very nervous at that time,” Camila commented, “I had to find another family as soon as possible or my contract as an au pair would have expired!”
Finally, thanks to the help of her new boyfriend, Camila found another host family. “And that was the best match of my life,” she said.
“I don’t plan to go back to Italy anymore,” she pondered, “Now, I’m studying at Bunker Hill Community College, and I’m working as an au pair at the same time.”
Camila dreaming to stay in the U.S.
But next November, Camila has to leave the U.S. because her contract will expire. “So, I’ll go back to Italy and try to apply for a student visa,” she said. “I want to study and live here, and I’ll try to do my best to achieve my goal.”
Camila has lived for long periods in three different countries so far and speaks four languages. She knows about cultural shocks and how to adapt to a new culture.
For other people who are going to live an experience abroad, she advises, “Do not have any previous expectations. Be ready for everything, and when you will become upset, think of the motivation that brought you there because nothing is impossible!”
Pietro Rossini is a Xaverian Missionary and ESL student at Framingham State University. He came to the U.S. in January 2020 with the purpose of studying for a master of arts in journalism at Boston University. His dream is to collect and share stories of humanity around the globe, making the world a single family.