Interview with Sarah622 in Bologna and the US
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Date of Interview: August 07, 2007
Area of Italy you live in?
Let us know a little about yourself?
I am enrolled at the Universita di Bologna, studying cinema, although I have found the Italian University system quite a bureaucratic challenge! (I suppose just like everything else in Italy!)
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I originally moved to be with my ex-boyfriend, who is from Naples. When we broke up, I decided to stay and try to make it on my own there.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
I have obtained two student visas and (so far) four permessi di soggiorno per studio. I originally dealt with the Italian consulate in Philadelphia and now deal with the Questura of Bologna, although I found the questura in Florence to be much more efficient.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
First, I applied for corsi singoli at the Universita di Firenze, through the Philadelphia consulate. The procedure was relatively easy, it just required a few transcripts, no translations, and I got my visa in about one month. Applying for a degree (laurea) course at the University of Bologna was extremely frustrating and long. I had to deal with the Philadelphia consulate for my high school diploma dichiarazione di valore, and the Boston consulate for my college degree dichiarazione di valore. I had to make several trips to both consulates, because there were always problems that the consular officer never told me about. I was ready to give up (as I often am when I go to apply for my permesso di soggiorno); the only solution I found is to be persistent and never let the first, second, or even third "no" stop you.
If you haven't gotten here yet, what steps are you in the process of ?
I am currently in America, because I need to earn some money before going back and the economic possibilities in America are far greater than in Italy! I cannot wait to go back, though, and if I obtained employment in Italy, I would return in a second!
How long have you been here?
I have lived in Italy for 5 years (1 year in Naples, 1 year Florence, 3 years Bologna).
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
Although Italy and the US may seem relatively similar culturally, the more time I spend in Italy the more I realzie how different they are. For example, sense of humor, the subjects we find funny and appropriate subjects to joke about differ from America to Italy. The biggest problem I have had personally with Italian culture is the huge emphasis on appearances and their preoccupation with "fare bella figura".
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I wish someone had told me which Italian University degrees actually help people get work (ie, economica, marketing, engineering) and which are not helpful at all in obtaining a job (many humanities degrees).
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
You have to really want to live in Italy and be willing to put up with a lot of frustration and delay if you want to make it. The easiest way to find work for an English speaker is to teach, however it is not steady and you must have many hours to make enough money to get by.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I certainly thought that being a native English speaker would make the job search easy, which is absolutely untrue, especially for a non-EU citizen. The only steady work I have ever been able to find is school teaching, and it is never with a secure work contract.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I have learned a lot of patience. Being in Italy has also made me more open to meeting different people and has given me more confidence in myself than I would have had I remained in America.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
If I can find a job, I would love to stay forever!!
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
What is your reason for staying in Italy? Name five great things about living in Italy
Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
I find this site extremely useful.