Australian and more: Stefano Del Dosso
Australian and more explores the dissonance and delights of an individual straddling two cultures in Western Australia’s current social atmosphere. This series of five stories shares perspectives of people with Chinese, Malaysian, South African-Indian and Iraqi heritage. The Centre for Stories believes that sharing diverse perspectives is essential to creating a cohesive and empathetic society.
My name is Stefano Del Dosso, I am from Italy, north of Italy, small town called Varese, on the Swiss border. I just turned 54.
I really miss, really miss, mountains, because I am from the mountains. I grew up on the mountains. It is something that I really miss here in Australia. Culture, obviously, because in Italy we are filled with culture everywhere. If you go north to south, east to west, we’ve got thousands of years of culture. Not much else, because I really love it here.
I’ve been here 15 years. It has been a while. In theory it was only for a project I was involved in. I was working for a company and they wanted to start this kind of business, a gelato business, here in Australia. It was supposed to last four to six months and then I’d go back to Italy. But I fell in love with Australia—with the rules and the weather! Oh my god! The weather here, in Western Australia. I came in January it was full summer, full summer, I remember these 40-42-degree days but dry with a nice breeze. That has been really important in my choice, the first thing was the weather that really impressed me—the light, sunny, sky blue. Where I was living the sky is grey in the summer, grey and humid, and just a few days like this, and that was what really caught me. Then when I started working here other things caught me. I love this place.
LOVING WHAT IS NEW
There are a lot of differences, similarities I can’t find many. Everything is different, culture is different. If I can tell you about the weather we’d find some similarities if we went down south in Italy. If you go to Sicily they have this kind of weather, but I was living up north. The food is completely different. In Italy we are more about food in some ways, but we miss a lot in other ways. Australia is multicultural, and I love this because I’ve always loved cooking and I’ve always loved Asian food and in Australia it is easy to find and easy also to improve your skill. You’ve got opportunities everywhere, meeting friends that are from Asia, from China, from everywhere. That is beautiful. I love multiculturalism.
Another thing I really love is the rules, you know, simple, easy to follow, no bureaucracy at all. In my country bureaucracy is something that is killing human beings in some ways. We’ve got laws, 100 years old, still now and it is not good, it is really hard. Bureaucracy, everything is harder, everything is more expensive. Doing simple things, doing your driver’s license, doing your passport; here you can do your passport in the post office. In Italy, it is a process. You have to go to the police station or go to your chancellery. Here, if you want to open up a business, you find the space, you talk to the landlord about the rent, choose the rent, then decide this area is for retail, it is easy to start a business. In Italy before starting a business you already spend 50% of your budget on taxes. They make it more complicated.
At the beginning it was hard to adjust, but after a while I found it somewhat easy. Still now my English is a disaster, because I am an old guy and I never learned English. I travelled a lot, but it was always with someone who helped me translate. Obviously, when I came here it was—bang! I had to do a full immersion, oh my God! The first years for me were traumatic. But the people are much friendlier here in that way. When you have to do something in some office, you know “Sorry my English is terrible” people do their best to help you. This is not happening in Italy. If you don’t know Italian they treat you like “ugh, oh my god!” They are not helpful at all.
It was hard at the beginning also because I left Italy and I left my family there, my kids. I was divorced already in Italy. But I chose to stay in Australia first of all for them – because I said, “oh this is the best place for them, for my kids to grow up”. Unfortunately things went differently. My kids, they are here now living, that is my daughter and the fella, that is my son. They arrived three years ago, I was here for 12 years by myself without them. So yes, at the beginning, it was really hard. But it was a plan for me, it was a challenge, I want to stay here and I got where I am.
I always thought the best thing for me is travelling. Travelling is amazing—not just like I did for work, not even for holidays, if you go to Bali that is not it—I mean travelling: spending time to stay, to understand the culture, to be in the culture. That is something that has no price. I think it is really important. Even me, I came here already old because I was already in my 40s, this helped me, this has been a value. My culture with the Australian culture, it is something that has been valuable to my skills.
I now feel more Australian than Italian. First of all, because this country gave me a lot, a lot. I love this country for everything: the rules, how it is organised, how it is clean, how it is simple. The most important thing for me was about jobs and work situation, the work environment. Because I always did this in my country. I am a gelato technician. I worked many years in a lab making ice-cream. I work in my own shop, I start many shops, my shops, I also work for other companies. This happened partly in Italy and also overseas, around Europe and many countries, I’ve been in the USA. I always feel that my country is always complicated. In Australia it is different, easy. I love everything about Australia in general.
Read the rest of the stories in Australian and more here.
Copyright © 2018 Stefano Del Dosso
This story has been licensed to the Centre for Stories by the Storyteller. For reproduction and distribution of this story please contact the Centre for Stories.
This story was collected by Centre for Stories intern, Karen Escobar.