Multiculture, Profiles

Michele Castiglione: “London is crowded and individual”

This young man, born in Italy in 1990, came to London for the first time at the end of 2010, but he didn’t like it so he returned to his country in June. But once he decided what he wanted to do, he came back to the English capital last November to study International Politics.


Javier Duque


October 2012 was the date when Castiglione landed in the UK. He came to broaden his horizons and “because of other personal issues”, he adds. But it wasn’t what he expected.

Although he had work as a kitchen assistant in an Italian restaurant, he shared a flat with Italians and was going out with an Italian girl. “I had no reason to be here. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do”.

Something made him want to go back to his country in the summer of 2011 to work out what he wanted to do with his life and what his heart told him.

And it seems that he found the answer. He obtained the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which is required to study at University and he went straight back to London to study International Politics.

Although he wasn’t to commence his studies until January, Michele arrived in London in November with the intention of finding a job that could run parallel to his university studies and help him cover his living costs.

But up until now he hasn’t found anything- at least not what he is looking for- and owing to different reasons, things aren’t going very easily for him. Since the university promised Castiglione that they would give him some help with maintenance fees and finding somewhere to live… they haven’t been true to their word.

“The support that the university gives students is average as they send you from one place to another”.

As far as accommodation goes, he has been constantly changing residence since he arrived. At first he was in a hostel, then in a flat, then he went back to living in a hostel… before ending up in another hostel (where it seems this time he will stay for the long term) exclusively for students.

On top of all that there is the problem of money. His parents told him that he knew the decision he was taking, but that they would help him as much as possible.

Life in London

Michele insists that he loves the city, but hates it at the same time. He thinks that the only way to enjoy London is if you have free time, because if you are working that is impossible. Of course, it is an expensive city.

“The people who go to work every morning are always looking at their mobile phones. They only look up to see the name of the stop they are at on the underground”.

He thinks that this makes London a crowded and at the same time individual city, which doesn’t make it great for social life. “Well, if there is social life it is because people get drunk”, he points out.

One of the things he likes most about the city is its multicultural character, as he considers himself to have an open mind.

He also adds, “sometimes we hold preconceived ideas about people: blacks, Chinese, Indians… and I want to see if it is true.”

Thinking about the future, Castiglione will stay in London for the next 4 years, enough to finish his studies. But he still doesn’t know what he will do once he finished, although he knows he would like to work in diplomacy:

“I would work for unjust situations, situations of exploitation”, he ends, “because the world is full of such situations”

(Translated by José Stovell)

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