Antonella always has a smile on her face. At first, she seems reserved, but as soon as she starts talking she is full of energy. She is from Córdoba, the second largest city in Argentina with 1.3 million inhabitants. Córdoba is a former colonial town, beautiful and with many universities. Antonella went to university there and studied accounting. She is intelligent, always has a goal in her mind, wants to achieve something extraordinary and be successful.
With 21 she meets Gérman at the university. He is tall, dark-blond and just like she does, he has a charming smile. They became friends, regularly playing paddle with others and having the same circle of friends who meet every Friday for dinner. It goes on like this for a year. Then Gérman invites her to the theater with him alone. Antonella is nervous, she has noticed how her feelings changed recently so she brings her best friend to the play... A week later, Gérman tries again and this time she comes alone. They go to a bar for a drink, he admits he has real feelings for her and she admits she is feeling the same way. They start to date.
In the upcoming years, they both graduate from their studies. Gérman becomes also an Accountant and travels frequently because of his job. Antonella starts to work in different HR positions. She moves into her first home alone, where friends are frequently around. She is a sociable person, in Argentina, you are never alone. There you meet every free moment with friends to share a Mate or eat an Asado and suddenly end up in a party coming home late.
Eight years pass by and Antonella and Germán had lived through a lot. By 2015, he is transferred to the US. It is a great challenge for him. Gérman asks Antonella to come with him, but she feels is not the right moment for her. She is working for Coca-Cola and finishing a master's degree in Labor Law. The decide that Gérman will go alone for the moment.
The farewell is not easy with the change, the distance and the uncertainty what comes next. Of course they want to stay together, but will their relationship survive? Will it be the same? What will happen in the future? It is January 2015 when Gérman leaves. They will see each other again in March. From January and March it is summertime in Argentina and Antonella is working, studying and hanging out with friends. In March, Gérman visits for two weeks- he has a project in Argentina. They spend time together and it feels like he was never gone. April comes and she takes vacations to visit him in Miami. Then they spend some days of their vacation in New York. Gérmanis acting weird in New York. Their last day has come and they decide to go for a walk Uptown. As they arrive in Central Park, they lie down on the grass. The sun is shining. Gérman silently takes out a small box from his pocket with an engagement ring. Antonella cannot believe it and cries while saying yes to the marriage proposal. A few hours later she flies to Argentina. They are apart once again.
Antonella starts to organize their wedding in Argentina. She is looking for a venue for the celebration and a church. They will get married in November. In July, Gérman comes to Cordobá for a week. In Argentina, it is mandatory to complete a marriage course some weeks before the wedding, where long time married couples give the freshmen tips on how to keep a marriage long lasting, happy and fresh. After his departure, there are still three months left for the wedding and to see each other again. However, in October Germán surprises her and comes to Argentina for a weekend. As he suddenly stands in front of her, she is speechless. As she remembers tears run down her face: "It was a lovely moment. The whole year was so full of surprises...”. A month later the wedding takes place.
The day of the wedding flies by. It is a beautiful and emotional celebration that begins in the evening. The church is in the city of Cordoba and the party venue in the outskirts. The civil wedding takes place in the park of the party room, where guests sit on chairs by the grass and the mountains can be seen in the background. The night is beautiful. Antonella is happy. The party continues until sunrise. Everyone dances and celebrates with them.
In December they make their final preparations; she is moving to Miami. Antonella has already quit her job and will have her last day in the company mid-January. German is with her and they fly together to Buenos Aires. She has her visa appointment at the American Embassy. By the end of January, Antonella arrives to Miami with two big suitcases. As she leaves Argentina she feels sentimental, but also happy and excited for what will come. The next four months she is not much in Miami. She travels together with Gérman who has to go to work to different cities and countries. The journeys are nice and interesting, but she realizes she is missing a routine. She wants to build a life in Miami and develop her career: "I had a good job and so many good friends in Cordóba. It is not easy when you come to a new place and you don't have your people and the things you are used to”. Antonella gets to know the wives of Gérman's colleagues and they meet often. Their husbands were also transferred to Miami a year earlier. Antonella likes them, they support her in daily challenges, but most of them have already kids and don't work. She starts researching for HR courses in different universities as she knows that things in the US work differently but first, she decides to improve her English and enrolls in a language course. The course gives her a daily routine and a different perspective: "It was not a common group of students there. All these awesome and crazy girls who were living the same situation were also trying to achieve goals in their new life, from adapting to the new country up to get prepared to get a job or gain a sense of routine”. She laughs.
She starts preparing her Curriculum Vitae, or Resume, as it is called in the US, and finishes the language school after three months. With her English sharpened up, Antonella enrolls in an HR Management Certificate Program at the University of Miami. The course is twice a week, and she studies as she searches for a job.
The first job interviews are challenging and totally different than in Argentina. No personal information should be provided according to the American customs so the questions and answers are carefully elaborated to avoid any type of discrimination. In Argentina, interviews were much more open, personal and friendly. Sometimes it's frustrating for her. She is excluded from different selection processes for not having experience in the US. “You try, you put all your energy, a good mood, but sometimes things don't work as you expect. You become much more emotional than in your home country. Little things affect you in a different way. Sometimes you feel just homesick”.
Also with Gérman Antonella has more discussions now. Sometimes she feels misunderstood and that he can't really understand what she is going through.
She continues applying, goes cycling, makes yoga and makes friends. “Now, when I look back I think it was not so bad, I found a job I like in two months. Life can be challenging and frustrating, but there are many ways to make the experience positive. The first step is to accept that things are not the same as in your home country and try to take advantage of it”. Antonella works and at night she spends her time in class at the university. Here she learns and is challenged. She really likes the course. Over time, Antonella gets used to her work and is finishing the HR Management Program with high grades. She learns how things work in Miami; medical visits, administrative procedures, taxes and others.
The balance is positive, but there are a lot of ups and downs: “You are out of your comfort zone. Sometimes you feel weak, but you’re not. You’re stronger than you think. You might discover things about yourself that you may not have known before. Life abroad it is a great opportunity to build a remarkable experience that will never be forgotten".
Antonella feels that she has changed. She tries to live her life more balanced, she appreciates her friends, her spare time. She tries to enjoy life, her life here. Is it destiny that she always wanted to go abroad since primary school and now she is? When she was twelve, she had planned an exchange to Ireland and got sick last minute. She was researching for universities abroad a couple of times, but it never worked out. And finally, when she was at University, she joined AIESEC, a non-profit organization that promotes international exchanges, she got involved participating internally, helping other people to live the diversity and their international experience, that forgot she'd liked to go herself abroad. Now she does what she always wanted - and somehow it is quite different than she has imagined. No university has brought her there, no internship, but the work of her husband. "I do not want to regret the decisions I have made in life. I want to be happy, I want to travel and have a family. I would like to have a good job”.
At the end of the conversation, she is again talking about strong women. "Of course, there are different ways to be strong", she says. "There are women who live in their country doing what they loved and dreamed or at least trying to do it to reach the place where they would like to be. Women pursuing their careers and dealing with the challenges of life. Also, a strong woman can follow the person who loves. Moreover, you are also strong if you accept to go a step back when necessary. If you smile even when you want to cry. You are strong when you keep moving. You are strong if you have the courage to start new, from the beginning. When you are able to think globally when you break out of your comfort zone when you try to be OK with you or your family. You are strong and maybe the others don’t see it, but you feel it. It’s up to you to build your personality and to think - why not?"
Antonella still lives in Miami and works with the company she started with. Since January Gérman is doing an MBA in Boston and will be living there for six months. They see each other on the weekends.