Interview with Benjamin in Bologna/Naples
Date of Interview? Aug. 22, 2005
Let us know a little about you? Eternally single
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
Spent a semester abroad in Florence in 1999 got the Italy bug and have been here since.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here ?
OK....for my semester abroad I simply had a 6 month student visa. Then I moved back to the states for six months. When I went back to Italy (in Milan this time) I was ummm "a tourist" for almost a year and a half. Then I took a class at a music school and for two years was on a student permesso. Went back to the states for a year...couldn't deal with it and started applying for grad school. It wasn't until then that I completely realized the full extent of Italian beaurcratic hell. We'll see what happens next.......
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them?
OK. When I got into grad school I needed to get both my high school and University diploma translated as well as course descriptions for both. I had to go back to my old high school in Jersey and have it signed by the principal then sent off to Trenton for an apostille. Then I had to take the documents to my consulate in Philly to get them certified. The same process had to be done for my university transcripts...but I went to school at ASU so this had to be done through the LA consulate. I think the Uganda consulate would have been more organized and much more helpful. pure hell!
How long have you been here? All together 5 years
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
Only thing I miss are coffee shops. I'm also really sick of hearing how Americans are fat with no history or culture....gets me really pissed.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap ?
It's not as hard as you think. Go over with a student visa and really learn Italian for the first few years. Then once you get a hold of the language look for a job!
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over ?
It is MUCH easier to live in a place with fewer Americans I think. You are really shooting yourself in the foot if you live in a place like Florence where there is so little work and TONS of competition with other Americans who love Florence as much as you do. I found a job teaching English in Milan in about 15 minutes. They are desperate for teachers and it's enough to be mother tongue with a college degree. I personally despise teaching but it got me through and I paid my bills. I think you have a much higher chance of succeeding if you move to cities in North or in if you can bare it, cities in the south where they haven't seen Americans since the end of the second world war! You can always go visit those places you love so much.....
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
Well, I'm still waiting for a Neapolitan named Francesco to whisk me on his vespa to his villa on the Amalfi Coast. Where's my Tuscan sun, huh?
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
You have a few hours? Basically I've begun to realize that "quality of life" doesn't mean money or things. That I was so wrapped up in American consumerism. That a good shot of espresso can be more satisfying than an SUV and owning property in an anonymous housing development.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
Who knows.....only the Italian Gods can figure that one out.......in the right situation it doesn't sound too bad