Interview with MB in Abruzzo
Date of Interview: May 15, 2007
Area of Italy you live in?
Let us know a little about yourself?
I'm divorced, living with my significant other. I was born in Pennsylvania,
outside of Philadelphia, moved to the Northeast section of the state, and
later moved to Arkansas. Even though I have a Bachelor's Degree in French, I'm currently working freelance building websites, doing translations, archiving documents, etc. During my previous "lives" I've done everything from wait tables, cook cheesesteaks, teach water aerobics, work as a legal assistant, run a karaoke show, answer phones and provide technical assistance in a French computer call center, and, in my last incarnation before coming to Italy, manage a team of web developers for a large corporation.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I came here for the first time in 2003 to "discover my roots" and fell in
love with the place. Shortly afterwards I heard about the possibility for
Italian citizenship and started working on gathering documents with the
intention of retiring and coming here in about 20 years to spend part of the year here and part of the year in the US. But, a romantic relationship sped up my initial plans and I came a little early.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
Due to some acquaintances, fortunately I was able to get some information before coming. I was headed to get a visa, but was told I didn't need it by the Questura. (Thank heavens because based on what I've heard about getting a visa, it's not easy!) Instead they told me to come with all my citizenship documents, get my Permesso di Soggiorno for Tourism, get residency at the comune, get that converted into a Permesso di Soggiorno in Attesa di Cittadinanza, then continue with the citizenship process - which was long and complicated due to the fact that it was the first time my comune had done it. (I understand that the process has changed now, since the Permesso di Soggiorno for Tourism is no longer used.)
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
My initial problems were due to bad advice. The consulate that I had been working with told me to check with the comune because the citizenship procedure was different for those residing in Italy. So, I came here a month before I made the final move and showed my documents to the Anagrafe. He said he would let me know what I needed to do. Five days before my plane was set to take off (despite my boyfriend bugging him about it), he finally tells me to get the documents translated at the consulate and gives me a list of documents. I thought it was strange that of all the documents he only wanted 3 translated, but I did it anyway. To make a long story short, I needed all the documents translated, so I had to use an official translator here (which I found on the American Embassy website), which cost me a ton of money. Of course, I got the translated documents back in August when everyone was on vacation. Then I had to keep pushing and helping to get the thing done. All in all, it took 11 months from the time I arrived to complete the process.
How long have you been here?
Since February 4, 2006
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
I think my main adjustment problems weren't so much the fact that I was in Italy, but the fact that I went from having a very intense job where I was on call, to having nothing to do. I basically missed the fact that before I was needed, and people used to ask my advice. Other than that, it was basically adjusting to the rhythm of life here, in a small town.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I don't think there's anything that someone could have told me that would have changed anything. I had heard various stories about italian
bureaucracy, etc., but until you experience it, you can't appreciate what
people tell you.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
Inform yourself about everything. Don't expect anyone to have the answers. I have found numerous instances where people give me an answer or advice on how to do something (I'm talking people working in offices, for the government, lawyers, etc.), then when I do some research myself, I find out that it was wrong. This site is a great tool, use it to prepare yourself before you go.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
Not at all.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
Tons of things... I've become more patient, but also more aggressive. (If
you've ever stood in line - not that anyone stands in line here - and lost
your place to an innocent looking older woman, you know what I mean.) I'm a much calmer, happier person.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
The site is pretty comprehensive and different things keep being added as it goes along.
From reading various comments on the forum here and dealing with different people, I would suggest the following to anyone who decides to take the plunge and move here:
1 - Be positive: when there are bad days, and there will be, think about why you moved and what you like about being here. If you've got a great view, look out the window and appreciate it.
2 - Stay flexible, you're in a new country now and people do things in different ways. It's useless to make comparisons or try to change the way they think.
3- Don't be afraid to use the language. You won't learn if you don't try.
And you won't be able to get by and truly enjoy your life here if you don't
4 - Laugh - there are some really funny things here that only an English speaking person might appreciate.
5 - Be patient with yourself and with others. Don't expect to learn how everything is done overnight.
6 - Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most people will love the opportunity to explain something typically Italian to you. It's also an opportunity to make a new acquaintance.