Interview with Piccola Katie in Trento
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Name: piccola katie
Date of Interview: September 8, 2006
Area of Italy you live in?
Let us know a little about yourself?
I'm a young, college grad originally from California. I graduated June 2005 from UCSB and have spent the last year finding my way to Italy as an EFL teacher.
Why did you decide/have you decided to move to Italy?
I studied here 2003-2004, fell hopelessly in love with the language, culture, country and, of course, an Italian and have been back and forth ever since.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
For my time here in 2003-2004, I went through the University of California's study abroad program known as "EAP" (Education Abroad Program). They had specific checklists and deadlines to follow in order to get a study visa which included gathering bank forms, affadavits and the application. I obtained my visa through the LA consulate and it was turned out in less than 2 weeks. I came here a few times after that on a tourist visa. My last stay was in Fall 2005 and I was here for exactly 3 months before I went home again. During that time I took a course to obtain my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). In December 2005 I applied for a study visa for a private language school but was denied by the LA consulate...
From January 2006, I began seriously researching what I needed to do to obtain a work visa. I kept in contact with the director of a language school I had met in the Fall and after a little cajoling, she agreed to sponsor me for a work visa. The process to get the visa was fairly straight forward. I checked my "Provincia"'s immigration website daily to keep updated on when the quotas were coming out and what date I would be able to turn in all the paperwork. The forms needed were all provided on the website and included forms for demographic information for both my boss and I, a form that serves as a contract outlining the details of my position, weekly hours and pay, and then my boss needed to get a form from the "camera di commercio." There was one day in which the paperwork was accepted at the post offices and "sportelli unici" throughout Italy. My boyfriend loyally stood in line for hours until the post office was open. Doors opened at 14.30 on (I think) March 15, my app when in at around 14.50 and after that I just waited. Once turned in, applications are reviewed by several offices until they can decide without a doubt that no Italian or EU citizen could do my job. This included a final 3 weeks of waiting while the Provincia put out an ad for my job in a local listing. If my boss decided there was someone who responded to the ad who was fit for the job, my nulla osta (work clearance) would be denied. My nulla osta came after almost exactly 3 months of waiting.... although the process was sped up a bit by my boss's constant phone calls to the Provincia's immigration office. Once I got my nulla osta in the mail, I applied at the Philadelphia consulate (where I was living at the time). I brought in my application on a Friday and by Monday it was already available for pickup.
The last bit of beaurocracy I went through was getting my permesso di soggiorno and I made that appointment very easily within the first week of arriving
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
The only problem I encountered with my work visa was the fear that it wouldn't get processed in time for my start date (or flight that I had already booked). That problem was fixed by calling my boss and having her call her friend who has a friend who works in the office of immigration.... (it always works that way in Italy, doesn't it?
How long have you been here?
Since Junly 2006.
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
Err.... well I'd say they were all pretty trivial and all similar to other expats. The lame, limited store hours. The absolute disregard of lines everywhere from the supermarket to the ATM. The nitpicky cleanliness they all seem to have. I'm sure I could think of more.... just give me a few more weeks to try and adjust... I'll tell you how hard it's been after that.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
...hmmm... I kinda knew what I was getting into since I'd already lived here for a year.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
If you want something done and you want it done quick, I suggest doing it yourself. Either that or nagging until the job gets done. Italians will take it slow by mere habit, but if you bother them enough (like I did with my visa) they'll step up and get the job done.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I haven't turned Italian by osmosis and despite however good I think my Italian is I still get occassionally "preso in giro" (made fun of) for my American accent.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I'm definitely more patient and absolutely less work centered. I went from working 12 hours a day in Philly to spending that time instead at the lake, hiking in the mountains and taking long coffee breaks with friends. Life is for living here and I have never lived better...
Do you think that you will stay forever?
...oooh.... What a scary question. I can definitely see myself here for quite a while. Oddly enough I feel more at home here than in the States. We'll see as time goes on... but until then I'll commit to at least a few years.