Welcome to The Bicultural Podcast.

I’m really excited to have Janine Cera with me today. She’s a rapid transformational therapist, clinical hypnotherapist, and award-winning speaker. In this episode, you will find out more about

  • Janine’s story about being bicultural/multicultural
  • How living in a different culture can affect you
  • Tips on how to connect with people across cultures

Janine Cera (00:38):

Hi. I’m very great and I’m so excited to be on your podcast today. Yay!

Janina Neumann (00:46):

No, it’s great to have you on. So would you like to introduce yourself?

Janine Cera (00:51):

Certainly. Yes. Let me tell you quickly, I am a rapid transformational therapist and a clinical hypnotherapist. And this means I can help people to heal from traumatic experiences and heal fast so they can move on with life. I’m also an award-winning speaker, which I’m very proud of.

Janina Neumann (01:11):

That’s a fantastic achievement.

Are there any differences between cultures when you treat people?

Janine Cera (01:19):

Yes, I have to say quite a few because it depends a lot from the background. As you know, as you have been living in Britain like me for some time, and as you can hear from my accent, I’m Italian mostly, because I have many culture, but I consider myself 60% Italian. The culture are very different.

Italians, we’re very open. We have not much problem to open up and to express our problems, especially women. Maybe male will struggle a lot more than we meant to open up about their emotional pain or experiences because the way to say, “You need to man up”, is it’s quite common also in Italy.

However, in Britain, people are much more reserved and I have noticed they take more time to open up to you. It’s just a cultural thing because I believe British people are more concerned they don’t want to bother you and you need to keep things private.

Janine Cera (02:28):

That’s the cultural thing I noticed between Italy and the UK. For example, I work a lot with also U.S. and Australia and those countries are much more open to speak up about their problems and stuff. I have noticed someone common to British are more like Indian and Korean, South Korean, which tend to keep things more inside.

I’m talking from a perspective of mental health. So as a therapist, I need to know what’s wrong with you, so I need to dig a bit deep. If I get only shallow answers, I won’t be able to help them. It takes more time to warm up some kind of cultures, but eventually everybody opens up, and so, it just takes a bit more time for some cultures.

Janina Neumann (03:24):

That’s really fascinating. Are there any distinct stories that you would like to share with us, how you’ve helped people?

Janine Cera (03:35):

Yes. Basically, I help them to change their mindset because many of us, if not all of us, certainly all my clients and me included, we run usually with old narratives and old stories, which usually start in our childhood. So money doesn’t grow on trees. You will never amount to anything or stories about the teacher or being bullied. Those stories that are painful when you’re five-year-old, you think as an adult they don’t affect you, but unless the person has gone through some healing, something that’s happened when you were five years old would be still painful when you’re 60. And so there are people who deal with different kind of trauma in different ways. So some people will avoid that kind of pain trigger and some other instead, will face it over and over again. So there are different ways to deal with a traumatic experience in the past or things that hurt our feelings.

Janine Cera (04:44):

Like, for example, an example that happened to me, I don’t want to mention any client stories, when I first arrived in Italy, I was six years old and I was the tallest of the class. Being a Scandinavian, very blonde, I was very blonde and very pale skin,and so kids were for me very mean. I was six and they were calling me “giraffe”. They were calling me “mozzarella”. Those things were very painful, but now if somebody calls me mozzarella or giraffe, I just laugh. Looking as an adult point of view, I would think it’s cute, but for a six years old those things are very painful. So think about when the bullying is even more serious, which can affect somebody. So I help people to heal from these narratives, these stories. It’s like, you know, we update our phones, we update our computers because otherwise they stop working, but we don’t update our mindset.

Janine Cera (05:43):

So it’s very important we update our mindset so we can get rid of these old stories that don’t serve us anymore, because these stories going in the background, “I’m not good enough”. “That thing I want is not available to me”, or “love is not available to me”. “I don’t deserve love”. Those old stories which might have served too, when you were five or ten, but they’re not true anymore and they don’t serve you. So once you heal from these stories and you build new stories in your mind, like “you’re enough”, “you are lovable”, “you deserve love”, “you deserve success”, “you deserve money”, then that could change your mindset. Then people will start to behave and believe different things and have a much happier life.

Janina Neumann (06:31):

That’s really interesting.

Do you think that some people suffer emotional trauma when they move countries and they see a culture that first they don’t understand or they can’t relate to?

Janine Cera (06:43):

I believe it’s quite traumatic to move to a new city even, even if they speak your own language and they have a similar culture. Moving away from your ‘roots’, it’s quite painful and some people do it easier than others. I have been traveling, moving from city to city, country to country my childhood. I changed so many schools. I have done six schools in eight years, so for me it was painful, changing, but I knew I will not die. When we get out of our comfort zone, our minds, our chatterbox, our survival mode kicks in and says, “This is dangerous. Nobody understands you. Everybody dressed differently. Everybody speaks differently. Food is different. The climate is different”. The role of our mind is not to make us happy, unfortunately. The role of your mind is to keep you safe. How does it keep you safe? To keep you in the familiar.

Janine Cera (07:50):

So when you move abroad, it’s seen as a trauma of a different level, depending on the person or how that pain is exciting or not, because when I moved to London in 2009 or end of 2008, I was so excited that it wasn’t very painful. But then after a few months I started to miss the food in Italy. I started to miss my family and friends. I come from a position where I can move on fast. I can go to the next city, next country. I lived in so many countries in my life, of which some in another continent. It’s something that takes courage and it can be painful. Some people live it very badly because everything is different. They feel an outcast. For some people it’s very difficult, especially for people who likes to connect like the extrovert, that if they struggle to connect with a local group of friends, they really will miss their own friends back at home. That can be very painful.

Janina Neumann (09:00):

Thank you so much for sharing such an insightful perspective.

Tell us a little bit more about where you’ve lived and kind of what cultures you’ve picked up and regard as your own.

Janine Cera (09:15):

That’s a great question. I love your podcast and your business because it’s bicultural. So I love everything that is multicultural. I became bicultural day one of my life, because my mother is Finnish and my dad is Italian, so very different cultures. I was born in this multicultural family where my dad would speak Italian to me. My mom would speak Finnish to me and amongst them, they would speak English. When I was three weeks old, we left Finland and we moved to UK. We stayed in UK for a few years, so I learned English. Then we flew to Austria for three years. I lived in Austria and in Austria, I went to Kindergarten, so I had to learn German very quickly. Kids do learn languages very quickly, because they are like, when we are young, we’re like sponges.

Janine Cera (10:19):

So I learned German. When my mom realised that I spoke German, it was like, “Oh, I can take you to the grocery store”, so it will help her to be a instant translator. I was a five year old translator and I loved it. Then we moved back to UK for a year and I went to school in UK. I start primary school in the UK. I was speaking with a kind of posh British accent, which clearly I lost, because I forgot all my languages. But when I was a kid, I would speak fluently, German, Finnish, English, and a bit of Italian, because my dad would come home late so I didn’t speak with him every day, but on the weekends, he would teach me some Italian.

Janine Cera (11:05):

At six, I moved to Italy and my Italian was quite basic, like I will confuse words. I really struggled at the beginning in Italy, but again, I was very young so I managed in a few months, to improve my Italian. I managed to settle. I lived in Italy most of my life. So this is why I feel 60% Italian. Since I was 15, I will go every summer to visit my mother’s mother. That means I move to U.S. So I spent a lot of time in the U.S., in the summer. So I managed to see also the culture overseas, in the U.S. I never lived there, but I went for longer holidays every year. So I managed to get the culture. I moved to UK in 2009 and I lived for a few years. Then I went to live two years in France, in French Riviera, so I had a bit of understanding of the French culture as well.

Janine Cera (12:09):

In 2012, I came back to UK, and then in 2014, I got married to the love of my life, and which of course was the love of my life, which I was starting a second. In 2015, I moved with the love of my life to Uganda, because he found a job in Uganda. So I lived a few years in Uganda and it was a great experience. And that was a cultural shock, because sometimes the electricity will stop working. Sometimes the water will stop arriving in the house, and there were no pavements. In Europe, I would love to go for a walk. Instead, there, there were no pavements, so not the best. I was living on a hill and so it was quite calm. Not many cars running apart from a crazy person that was going fast, but there was no much excitement to go around the area where I was living.

Janine Cera (13:16):

The only chance I would go for a walk would be taking out my dog. To go to the downtown, you had to take a taxi, or you had to find a driver to drive you there. This was a culture shock, but Uganda taught me so much. People might not have the same understanding of timing as we have in the UK. So “I’m coming”, can be now in like five minutes or can be in twenty. For them, it’s they’re quite flexible, but they live much better than that. Everybody’s smiling. Everybody’s very – . Everybody was smiling and happy and very chill. I learned, and I love that kind of thing. Even if sometimes when you need to go to a place on time and the taxi is like, driving you crazy, but fundamentally I learned so much. It’s a beautiful culture. I made so many friends.

Janine Cera (14:12):

In 2017, I left the husband because we discovered we were never meant to be together in the first place, because we had very different values in life. His values, I didn’t like them at all and he hide them from me. I was never planned to be with a guy like that, and so I said, “Sayonara”, and I left Uganda in 2017, so I flew back to UK. On and off, I’ve been in UK for 10 years. I lived in a bit in France, a bit in Uganda, and most of my life in Italy. I live three years in Austria, three years in UK, as a kid, and I spent so much time in the U.S. I forgot to say, in my twenties, I started to be a cabin crew. When I was flying intercontinental flights, I will manage to get a peek on a different culture. I went so many times in Paris. I went to India, India, like 17 times in two years. I’ve been a cabin crew for six years, but unfortunately only I’ll put them on a long haul.

Janine Cera (15:31):

I forgot to say, my grandmother was Brazilian, my dad’s mother. So, all my life has been very international and I’ve always been fascinated by other culture. I always had friends from different religions, different skin colour. In fact, I never understood the races, because I always had friends and I never see a problem in people dating different religion or skin colour people, couples. I never saw that as a problem. Actually, that’s something very important nowadays that I realized that what being non-racist is not enough. We now need to be anti-racist. I need to step up on my game because we need to be more. So I’m now doing a lot of research on how I can be anti-racist, because being non-racist is not enough, but this is something I find very confusing.

Janine Cera (16:33):

I really don’t understand why somebody should be discriminated because of their skin colour and stuff, but because I think it’s because my family has been always very open to other culture and I’ve been traveling, so I’ve always been fascinated. I have friends all over the world and I would not have it any other way. This has been my experience as a multicultural person.

Janina Neumann (17:08):

I love listening to your story. It’s amazing how many people you’ve met and how many cultures you were able to meet.

What advantages do you think has multiculturalism given you?

Janine Cera (17:24):

Advantages are, well, one interesting one was when I was a cabin crew, I would fly to some countries. As soon as I would be on the bus, we take the crew to the hotel. In some places I will feel at home, just looking outside the window. This happened a lot in the U.S. It doesn’t matter if I flew to Boston, Chicago, New York, Miami. As soon as I will look of the windows, I will see home. I feel home every time I’m in England, I feel home whenever I’m in Italy. I feel home whenever I’m in Switzerland. These are the countries where I feel home, where I like, I belong here. Another advantage is that as I had to learn very fast, as I tried to fit in, I’ve been told, because I sometimes struggle to connect with people that I don’t know, because I’m not an extrovert.

Janine Cera (18:27):

I don’t go and blur enthusiasm in front of people, but I connect with people easily when I start to talk to them and that people have made me notice how easily I connect to people. Now I’m staying in a house that I’ve been here for a few months and because of this quarantine, I became friends with all the neighbours, especially the ones with dogs, because I’m a dog lover. I’m an animal lover. Anyone with a dog, I know the name of the dog. I know the owner and I stop to chat. And my flatmate is like so surprised. They’re like, “I never spoke with anybody in six years”, and now we are living here two months, I know everybody because we go for walks together. Another advantage has been, as I was saying before, I don’t understand racist. For me, race doesn’t mean anything, but not even in dogs. I don’t care about which breed is a dog. If a dog is lovable, a dog is lovable full stop.

Janine Cera (19:26):

Those are being the big advantages. Also one big advantage that being a multicultural person has made me, is I’m very intrigued, because I know how to read body languages. When you go to a country, you don’t speak the language, you need to be very fast to read what they mean. Most of our communication is made with the body, body language and some is audio language, so the tone of the voice, are they angry, are they happy, are they sad. So I’m very quick to pick up on body language. Also the cabin crew, we needed to be very fast. We got trained to be very fast to notice if somebody was going to start a fight or somebody was very tense or somebody did look unwell, so I’m very good to read body language and how they talk. For me, the words somebody says, if they don’t match with the body, I believe the body and not the words. Does it make sense?

Janina Neumann (20:31):

Yes, observing body language is a great way of overcoming cultural barriers.

Do you have other tips on how to overcome cultural barriers?

Janine Cera (20:42):

I have a few tips. One is to be very respectful because we don’t know the person we are talking to that we just met. So if we don’t know the culture they come from, we might hurt their feelings or be too much in their own face. For example, I give an example, they have done studies that people in the countryside keep much more distant than people in the city. If you live in a big metropolis like London or Milan or Berlin or New York, you’re used to have more spaces. When you speak with somebody you don’t know, that space is very closed. Instead in the countryside, when people meet and they know somebody, they don’t go usually, don’t hug each other. They speak from a social distance, spaced distance, because this is their culture. They have space, so they’re not used to have somebody they don’t know in close to them.

Janine Cera (21:41):

So, the best thing to deal with somebody you don’t know from another culture or from another area or somebody you don’t know in general, because as I say, somebody in the countryside in your own country will respond to your closeness differently than someone from the city, the best way is to be mindful that they might have different habits, different cultures. For example, as an Italian, I speak a lot. When we are a group of Italians, we speak together simultaneously and we understand each other. When we are a group of Italians and some English speaking, we tend to after a while, start to speak Italian. Our friends who don’t speak Italian, they will tell us, “Hey guys, please speak English. Otherwise we don’t understand”. So always be mindful of, is this person understanding what I’m saying, are they okay with me being at this distance.

Janine Cera (22:51):

Try to understand what’s the case for them and what’s not. If you’re not sure if something might hurt their feelings or not, maybe ask them or don’t mention it at all. Oh, and also, also I’ve heard so many times, especially when I go to U.S., you date somebody and a lot of guys have told me, “Oh, you’re Italian. I watched Godfather”. Guys, Italy is not a country of mafia people. Yes, we do have some criminal minds and we have mafia organisation, which is a criminal organisation. I promise you, it’s a very small group of people. Most Italians are honest people. They would never even deal with those kind of people.

Janine Cera (23:41):

I don’t get offended because I understand they want to be cool. They want to say, “Oh, I love Godfather”, or any kind of mafia movie. But I understand why people get bothered. We don’t want to be related to, “Oh, you, pasta eater, pizza eaters, and mafia”. No, we are much more than that. I believe this is about all other people. The thing is, if somebody misrepresents your culture, don’t take it personally. I always see it as, they don’t know. In fact, when people, I promise you every time a guy tries to impress me and say, “Oh, I love movies with mafia bababab or The Godfather”, I always ask them, “Have you been to Italy?” They always they answer, “No, never been”. Their vision on Italy, only from the movies, the few movies they watched. There’s a very limited vision.

Janine Cera (24:41):

Do not take things personally and I honestly don’t bother to explain to people very strongly how Italy is. It’s like, actually Italy is nothing like that. But then again, everybody has his own choice to view the world in their own way. If you don’t like the view that that person has on your culture or your country, politely take your body to another place that’s apart from yours. Just move away from that person if he gives you weird vibes, that you don’t feel comfortable with them, because some people will not make you feel comfortable because just you’re different. That’s fine as long as you don’t need to deal with them.

Janina Neumann (25:27):

That’s a great point.

Janine Cera (25:28):

Oh yes, one important thing that I forgot about how to deal with any kind of individual, because you know, we have different cultures, but we are all individuals. At the core we are all the same. Any surgeon can tell you that inside we’re all the same. Any mindset therapist can tell you the same. We have different religions, different beliefs, different culture, but we all are fearful to die. We all get broken heart. We all have fears and insecurities. So one thing that I can tell you for sure, when you deal with somebody and you’re dealing with a potential client, it’s much better to under promise and over deliver, rather than over promise and under deliver, because any kind of person will like that you deliver that extra bit that they maybe didn’t even ask, but you didn’t promise it and then you then deliver it. So between the two, it is always better to under promise but over deliver.

Janina Neumann (26:34):

Do you have any universal tips on how to connect with people across cultures?

Janine Cera (26:40):

Yes. The best thing, if you are in front of them, body language. Be with your body open, don’t cross your arms. Make sure that you are listening to them. Remember we have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we talk. Even if you’re speaking on the phone or a video call, video call, remember they can see you. So be open, listen to them, don’t interrupt people when they’re talking. If you’re on the phone, smile, because when we smile, our voice becomes sweeter and more softer. Even if it sounds silly, smile when you talk on the phone. It really changes how the other person perceives you.

Janina Neumann (27:27):

Well, you certainly made me smile today.

If people loved listening to you, how can they work with you, Janine?

Janine Cera (27:36):

Well, I have for some free sources. You can follow me on my podcast. I have my podcast called, ‘How To Be Even More Remarkably Brilliant’, which is not easy to say with my R, but I believe everybody of us has a light inside and we just need to bring it back to shine it even more. This is why, ‘How To Be Even More Remarkably Brilliant’, because we need be more brilliant. Once we are more brilliant then we will be more remarkably, because we can impact other people positive in a positive way, so we will be more remarkable. If you know somebody who is struggling with some kind of trauma or love relationship issues or difficult toxic relationship with their own family member, or has some issues about feeling very insecure, confidence, or has a job interview, then I can help you to change those stories.

Janine Cera (28:41):

If anybody wants to work with me, they can check me out on my website: JanineCera.com. I will give you the link so you can put it in the description on the podcast, or you can write to me at Hello@JanineCera.com. It’s spelled hello, H-E-L-L-O, @, J for Juliet, A-N-I-N-E, C for Charlie, E-R-A, .com. These are the best way to connect with me. If you can send me a brief email with what’s your issue, what’s your struggle, and we can see if we are a good fit to work together. Any way you can check out my video sources also on YouTube, where I have a video series. You can Google me with my name, Janine Cera.

Janina Neumann (29:29):

Fantastic. It’s been such a pleasure to have you on, Janine, and I’m sure you’ve helped a lot of people understand multiculturalism a little bit better. Thank you.

Janine Cera (29:40):

It was so much fun. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for inviting me. Next week, I’m going to interview you. I’m so excited.

Janina Neumann (29:49):

Yes, I’m really looking forward to that as well.

Janine Cera (29:53):

Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to talking to you soon.

Janina Neumann (30:00):

Me too. Thank you, Janine. Bye bye.

Janine Cera (30:01):

Ciao.

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