Interview with Tami in Milan
Date of Interview: March 13, 2007
Area of Italy you live in?
Let us know a little about yourself?
I'm married to an Italian citizen.
Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I decided to move to Italy because my husband needed to take the Bar exam/ Esame di Stato before living and working in another country. My career had yet to take off, so I decided to give it a try and move to Italy. We always saw my husband's career as offering more flexiblity than mine.
What type of process did you go through to be able to move here?
I followed the Italian Chicago Consulate website to-do list verbatim. I had my documents (birth certificate and proof of eligibility to marry) all authorized by the Italian Consulate in LA, California and then left for Italy once I had received the green light. We got married 2 weeks later and I got my permesso di soggiorno. I did not register myself as a resident until 1.5 years later because it was not in my immediate interest.
What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them ?
My husband handled all of the translations and the Italian Consulate in LA had no problems with his translations. The process was quite straight-forward for me. I did have to allow for patience in waiting for documents while in the States, but there was only more waiting to be had once I began with the necessary documentation in Milan.
How long have you been here?
I have been living in Italy for almost 3.5 years.
What type of adjustment problems have you had?
Mentality - I like things handled efficiently and I do not understand/like complacent people. These have been my most challenging trials to overcome. I have not succeeded yet. I still struggle to comprehend these two things, which are constant throughout my daily life in Italy.
What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I wish someone had told me that I should seek out, follow and experience my career before moving to Italy. I feel I have left so much behind professionally that I will not be able to get back. I wish I had had the foresight to begin a freelance career before coming to Italy.
What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over?
If you plan to move to Italy as a young person, not having fully experienced your profession, and you are not a mother-tongue speaker of Italian, think long and hard. After 3.5 years of living in Italy, the most disappointing feeling is the lack of job placement for someone my age and lack of fair pay for the job you do in fact have. I am speaking specifically as a 28 year old, well-educated, well-qualified, young female in Milan.
Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
I thought teaching would have simply been a start-up or beginning. Instead, I've found it incredibly difficult to find/break into a job in my field, with my skills, and one which pays well and offers a contract for longer than 6 mo-1 year. This has been incredibly frustrating, challenging and unfortunately very disappointing. I have also found that the bureaucracy in Italy is unavoidable at every pass (professional or social). I find it very difficult to make myself go see a proper doctor for things that are even serious, let alone simple check-ups. In fact, I've managed to go through 3 years not once seeing an oncologist (cancer is very prevalent in my family) and only once going to a dentist. All of this because the bureaucracy is so great just to get into see a doctor and then to be excused from work for such a visit. I cringe at the idea of the paperwork!!!! I do not have high regard for Italian General Practitioning doctors because of the 5 times in 3.5 years I've been sick. Not one has asked me if I'm allergic to any particular medicines or does cancer or heart disease run in my family. My favorite question that has occured during each visit, "Do you want to take medicine for you illness? If so, what do you want?" I laugh with a bitterness recognizable only to me because the idea that a doctor who is supposedly qualified would ask a patient if he/she had a preference for a particular type of medicine. The lack of connection between a doctor and patient is overwhelming. I'm sick very seldom, yet when I am sick I am sicker than a dog. I want a proper doctor who knows me and has a chart on my past visits and past problems in order to monitor recurring problems or issues. No such doctor have I found amongst those on the ASL list. That is the MOST disappointing & shocking factor about Italy to me.
What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I became more dependent upon my husband than I had ever expected. I am now beginning to slowly break away from that dependency. I was never dependent upon anyone after university, so it has been a very humbling and difficult experience.
Do you think that you will stay forever?
In the beginning I thought this was an easy question to an easy answer. Now I think it's the most difficult question & most difficult answer. If I don't have to live in Milan I would consider it. If Milan is the only option, I will move away in the near future. I really love Italy, but I love the Italy that exists outside of Milan. Milan doesn't represent Italy, in my opinion. It's a city where its own citizens hate it so much they don't even bother to take care of it. The problems & disappointments may be better analyzed if the town/city weren't as big as Milan. Who knows? Maybe I would still be fooling myself.
Can you think of any other questions that should be added to this questionnaire?
What do you love best about Italy? Italians? It's a question that may balance out the positive & negative.
Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
I hope this wasn't too negative. I think many wonderful things can be said about this country, but the full experience of life in Italy also depends upon the age, marital status and past experience(s).