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From research lab to South America: I explain why I change my life

Fabio, 33, is a researcher at the Sapienza University in Rome. Tired of the precariousness they are forced into, he and his girlfriend decided to leave. To put themselves to the test and start from scratch


According to data from the Fondazione Migrantes, in 2022 44% of the 82000 Italians abroad are aged between 18 and 34. They have increased by 2% compared to 2021. We often hear stories of brain drain, less often of brains returning. If the budget law is approved, it is likely that returns will decrease even more. The new proposal envisages, in fact, the shift from paying Irpef only on 30 per cent of taxable income to 50 per cent, also eliminating the 10 per cent taxation for those who transfer their residence to the South.

Fabio Desideri, a Roman from the San Lorenzo district, is another brain drain. After eight years spent in the same Biology research laboratory at the Sapienza University of Rome, he made the decision of decisions: to quit everything. The idea was born with an expiring contract, little stability and the union of intentions with his historical girlfriend Eleonora. Without her, he would never have had the courage to leave.

When did it occur to you to leave?

There was no specific moment. It took a while but I finally got courage. My fiancée and I work in the same research lab, we both had an expiring contract. We looked at each other and thought "if we don't do it now, when?"

What do you do?

We are research biologists. We did a PhD, then started a post-doc with a 3-year contract. We could have renewed it for another year, but with what perspective? There is no stability in our work. The winning course is to gain experience abroad and come back, only then can you have any hope of getting a permanent position. 

What are your main reasons for leaving?

Precariousness. Staying in the same workshop means instability and no career leaps. The time has come to break away. 

Will you adapt easily?

We chose South America not by chance: the culture is very similar to ours. In Asia it would have been much more difficult. After a couple of months in Medellin, I imagine myself as a Colombian citizen. Studying the territory, we discovered that it is not recommended to speak English. The risk is to be associated with a part of America that promotes sex tourism.

What is the itinerary?

We will start with two months in Colombia. After that it will be time for the Amazon Rainforest and Peru. Then Bolivia, Chilean Patagonia, which has always been my big dream, and finally Argentina. Brazil we'll do another time, it's too big. The idea is to take as few internal flights as possible for two reasons: ethical and economic.

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Un post condiviso da Peru Tours & Machu Picchu Experts (@exploorperu)

How much money does it take to make such a trip?

30/40 euros per person per day. All inclusive. 

Good challenge...

Hardcore? We try.

Have you considered the possibility that this change might disappoint you?

No. We finished work on 15 September and honestly couldn't take it anymore. I can't think of any negative things right now.

You're not even afraid?

No. We are going to the other side of the world but I am sure we will be able to get in touch with people.

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Will you go home at some point?

If home is Europe, yes. We will almost certainly go to Spain and look for work there. It is a good compromise between quality of life and possibilities for professional growth. 

Are you leaving because you have been inspired by some travel bloggers on social media?

It may sound strange but I only have Facebook and I don't even use it very enthusiastically.

Are you going to work there?

Research in South America is far behind. I'm waiting for Spain.

Would you ever have gone off on your own?

Sharing the experience with my girlfriend helped me a lot. No, I wouldn't have done it alone.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios