Ca(u)liFlower – getting ready

You’re probably scrolling around the internet trying to figure out a way to finally make the move to the States; maybe you’re in the process of doing so, wondering if everything you’re going through is ‘normal’; or, perhaps, you just googled my name and found yourself reading this. Nah, that’s unlikely, unless it is you, Mama.

I’m Italian, which means that, among a long list of great things, I’m superstitious. For that reason I’m not going to say that everything went smoothly and that I did make it until I’m in Venice Beach showing off my skateboarding skills (none). So I’ll start by introducing myself and explaining all the steps I’ve been through until today, hoping I can somehow be helpful anyway.

My name is Livia, I’m an Architect in Italy, and no, you do not ask a lady about her age. Graduated in Architecture in Rome, I attended an Erasmus semester in Munich, spent a couple months in Rotterdam doing an internship, got my Architecture License in Rome and have worked here in an Architecture Firm for the past two years. My professional background includes mostly architectural design – concept to construction stages – for public building renovations, residential and commercial projects, temporary construction for sporting events.

..Until I finally decided to quit my job and try to understand how to move to the other side of the world. (NB: quitting your job before having everything else figured out – not a smart move. Still, I guess, smart choices are not always the right ones).

When I was in High School I spent my Junior year in Santa Barbara, California, and California is where I needed to go back. I find its people, its places, its cities somehow hard to fine-tune and unexpectedly uncontrolled, that’s what keeps fascinating me about it.

First thing I did was updating my Resume and Portfolio. Could have kept doing it forever, since it never looks good enough, or long enough, until it seems too long and redundant; you need a deadline, at some point. Meanwhile I started looking at Visas, fighting against my own conviction that finding job opportunities in the US was close to impossible. I explored Google in its deepest anatomy, messaged friends and friends of friends, and their relatives. Until one day I came across Architect-US – in an article on ArchDaily – and registered before even realizing it. The process started: I submitted my info and resume, got accepted into the program, started to get emails about job openings in the US. Don’t freak out if it seems like you’re not receiving enough of them, or that none of those fit you: the offer changes a lot according to the time of the year. Some of the companies will call you back, others won’t, and that’s as typical as it can be. I went through a few interviews, some for opportunities in New York and others in California, most of them thanks to Architect-US. I found that it is possible to get interviews applying to jobs by yourself, it is though far more complicated – at least in my experience. After a couple of months I got, through Architect-US, two job offers that I liked very much – both in LA. Interviews and internet studying can probably give you nothing more than an feeling of what a job and a firm will actually be like, so I decided following my gut, mostly. Now, I’m really looking forward for this to start.

Words on paper, everything obviously seems easy, fast, flawless. Job searches, especially in the case you’re requiring a Visa and planning to move to another continent, never appear to be so, when you’re in it. That feeling ‘This is never going to work/I’m not good enough/Why did I quit my job (again: don’t)’ swims careless through your brain. Knowing that someone is supporting you in the process helps; and if you really understand what you’re looking for, while still being flexible, it will work.

Then there’s the paperwork, the Embassy appointment (mine was today), and, very soon, the flight. How long is it going to take to understand what’s going on and to settle? Can you live in LA without a car? What’s the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion? Is Cauliflower Rice a real thing? No clue. Yet.

Livia Cavallo

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