Coming from a place of family unity, farm land, and community gatherings to the "big apple" was certainly a huge transition that my Nonna and Nonno faced. It was the beginning of their new lives as American citizens. They lived on a farm their whole lives, separate of course until they met one day. But, Italian culture is pretty much the same throughout the entire community. When they decided to move to America, my Nonna was pregnant with my mom. She wasn't born until they were in the US so she is technically a citizen but she speaks fluent Italian. That was the first language she learned actually because that is all they knew how to speak!
They slowly but surely started learning by watching A LOT of TV on their down time. My Nonna wanted my mother and her sisters to get a really good education which was a reason a lot of people came to America. My Nonno got a job as a shoe shiner and my Nonna, from years of sewing on her farm, got a huge job in the city working with a company who worked with brands such as Michael Kors, Vera Wang; and my Nonna was their new secret Italian weapon who they valued very much. When it was time for my mother to go to college, my Nonna's boss helped pay her tuition.
Before that, when my mom was in her adolescence, my Nonno got sick with Schizophrenia, this effected her life tremendously. My Nonna now had to take care of 3 children, along with her paranoid husband who ended up getting a one on one nurse. This led to my Nonna resenting ever moving from Italy. To this day, you will hear her saying, "I should have never let Ellio talk me into coming to America." She believes the stress of him not being paid well and moving during a hard time caused him to crack.
She has been through so much, especially after he passed in 2006. Transitioning into the American culture didn't really happen for her until later because she resided in a town in the Bronx that was surrounded by Italians and Italian Americans who kept the traditions boiling. At the end of the day, I believe she owes everything to moving to America; she is just frustrated. She gets SO mad when she hears about illegal immigrants coming in because for years she worked to get to America. She still has a really thick Italian accent and always will and will pretty much speak Italian whenever, even though it has been more than 50 years since she came here.