At Octonano, we’ve always prided ourselves on our fluidity between nations and cultures. Today, we’re highlighting another of our team members who is working far from home, bringing invaluable international experience and insight to our work. Meet our English Copywriter Clara, who is part of our Florence team.
Where did you grow up, and what places in the world do you call home?
I grew up in Santa Barbara, California. I spent half of my years in college in NYC, and half in Florence. After that, I lived in Oxford, England, for a year while earning my master’s degree, and now I’m back in Florence, taking language classes and working with Octonano. All of these places feel like home in different ways!
What has your career journey been like up to this point?
For most of my career, I’ve worked in various editorial positions. Throughout university, I worked as an assistant manuscript editor, in which I helped aspiring authors polish drafts of their novels on a structural level. While studying in Florence, I also had the opportunity to assist with a research project at UniFi, which was extremely eye-opening in terms of widening my understanding of Italian scholarship and an international academic environment. I also write freelance essays and criticism and translate literature from both Italian and Tagalog (Filipino). I’m hoping to get into writing some fiction soon.
Why have you chosen a career as a copywriter, and why are you passionate about this work?
I love language, and I’m excited by working closely with words – whether they’re in my mother tongue English or a different language. In writing copy, every word needs to convey a very precise message and tone, and I really enjoy this challenge. As a translator, I also find my work with an international company especially fulfilling, because I find it fascinating to compare how branding gets communicated across different cultures and languages. I feel so lucky to have found a company that permits me to explore both my love of language and different cultural contexts (both literally and figuratively)!
How much has Italian culture and living in Italy changed your life and your outlook on things?
While I’ve talked a lot about language, constantly pushing myself to express myself as authentically as possible in Italian has forced me to examine deeply how I interact with others and observe how interpersonal relationships are built. It’s also taught me how to have patience and think on my feet, because when you live abroad, every part of the day can feel like a challenge (going to the store, taking public transportation, calling your landlord, giving directions, etc.). I was confronted with this especially working at Nana Bianca, where there were many other people and I had to navigate situations that I initially found intimidating (like setting up my Wi-Fi or activating my badge). Though this may sound like a very simple observation, in Italy, I’ve noticed that people will simply talk to each other more to figure out what’s going on, and lots of communication is word of mouth – don’t know where the bus will stop? Ask the driver. Can’t find the store hours online? Go in person and ask. Looking for something specific at the pharmacy? Go talk to the pharmacist. My entire experience changed when I realized that I could just ask for more information instead of attempting to be totally self-reliant, and I’ve tried to apply this practice to my everyday life.
What are three differences that have struck you between Italy and the U.S.?
The way people speak to each other in daily dialogue. I’ve noticed Italian will tolerate much more direct questions and commands, whereas English uses a lot more tip-toeing around a point. This is something I’ve definitely had to adjust to!
Interrupting! Not that this is rude, but the flow of conversation is definitely different. In the U.S., I'm not used to interrupting other people or being interrupted while speaking, but in Italy I’ve had to learn how to do both.
In my experience at least, when there’s a pop culture event in Italy, everyone is talking about it. In the U.S., people may have seen this show or listened to that album, but so far everyone I’ve talked to here has watched every single evening of San Remo. (Also, everyone from the waiters at a wine bar in Florence to the Sicilian nonne I’ve met have all watched Mare Fuori).