Questionnaire Results

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Here are some of the results we had from our questionnaire at the beginning (2004).

JASMINAH

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Hi, I am married with a small child - 19 months

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
I live in Holland at the moment - and it is very very cold. Besides that my mother is Italian and I would like to live there to keep the tradition

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Nothing yet. I have to see about jobs and visas for my partner - how to get them...

If you haven't gotten here yet, what steps are you in the process of?
I am just looking around for the moment. And I appreciate your site. I was looking for more job sites etc. I was curious as well about people who are living in Italy what exactly do they do there etc. I am curious for the " results" of this research.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Well I would like people to tell me the good and the bad things of Italy. What do they think is good and what bad, what bothers you

What inside secret could you pass on ?
The warmth of people, their culture which I think it is great. I would like to raise my kid in a "normal" environment (at this moment Holland is far away from that), where there is a lot of green and possibilities to go to quiet places without people.

Any disappointments?
I hope not. Lets see what will happen in the future

LYNDA

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Single, Divorced, starting over in a brand new world. Have two almost grown teenagers who live with their father in Washington DC.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Wanted to get off the hamster wheel in our nation's capital. hated my job, hated the person I was becoming and wanted more time to write, more time to contemplate.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Searched everywhere for work and found a small Italian firm that needed my services for a short while. Their contract helped me to obtained enough documentation to please the Italian authorities enough to grant me a autonomous worker visa. Arrived in Florence and work has been sketchy at best, but when is it not for an immigrant?

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
Problems were/are many, mainly finding consistent work, managing expenses of living in a tourist city. Not letting the really hard days color your reasons for coming in the first place.

How long have you been here?
Arrived February 16th 2003.

What adjustment problems have you had?
Languages are hard for me and in Florence you can gimp along with really bad Italian for a long time. My advice, avoid getting too hooked in with the ex-pat crowd, we are a help in a lot of ways but a crutch in others, try and learn the language first and then back into the ex-patriot friendships after, that way you have the best of both worlds.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Having been a successful single woman in the US it would have been nice to know how hard it is to survive here on only one income. Seems everyone has flatmates, or is married or living with someone as a way to share expenses and lower costs. I hadn't anticipated needing to do that again at my age (I am 40). I came to Italy to be independent and so this aspect of compromise has been my biggest challenge.

What inside secret could you pass on ?
You are moving to one of the most wonderful countries in the world.....cherish it, don't let the bad days get you down and know that if they do, all you have to do is ask someone and they will lend you a helping hand

Do you think you will stay forever?
My road is still unfolding...ask me again in a few years, but I like what I have received so far.

Any disappointments?
Life is full of disappointments, its how we let them colour our lives that makes or breaks us.

DANIELLE
www.cheftaxi.com

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired):
I've been married for almost two years, and don't have any children yet.

Why did you decide to move to Italy?
I decided to move to Italy after spending a year in Florence on a study abroad program. My father is Italian and it made me sad to see our heritage being lost as my brothers and I grew up in the U.S. so I decided to come here and spend several years.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
I had to convince my fiancée to come over with me, which was no small task. I also applied for Italian citizenship and was granted it, which was a HUGE help.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
I ran into a hard time finding well paid work. Strike that and replace with "reasonably paid work". My fiancée studied for the first several months we were here to learn Italian, so we went through our savings pretty quickly. I have a college degree and speak, read, and write both languages fluently, but the first job I had to take for lack of a better one paid only 700 euro per month and occupied about 50 hours per week. This problem was slowly resolved as a part time translating job became more lucrative, but still after more than two years money is an issue. High rents in Rome make it almost impossible to put aside money for a down payment on property.

How long have you been here ?
Two years.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
Italian Bureaucracy. You really have no idea until you've lived it. The simplest thing like paying a bill can take up to a half day here. The health system: think you can take off early from work and run in to see the doctor - HA! Take a number and wait about three hours, then if you're lucky you might get in, if not you can come back the next day.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Save lots more money than you have. At least 20,000 euro or so, and go into business for yourself unless you have a good job prospect with the U.N., a multinational company, or an embassy.

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Cultural enrichment. A new world view.

Any disappointments?
failure to find a well paid job after a few years has been a blow to the old self esteem, but part time work from home also has its perks.

JONATHAN
SKY TV

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired):
Married and have one daughter who will be 9 in March of 2004.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Initially the U.S. Navy moved me to Italy, but I soon fell in love with Sicily and all things Sicilian, including my bride...which is why I stayed after my Navy tour.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Because I married an Italian citizen, I simply had to apply for a Permesso di Soggiorno, but as long as I could prove some sort of income, it was pretty simple.

How long have you been here ?
12 years

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Learn to live with ambiguity.

JUDITH

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Unrepentantly single

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
I came here for the culture and on the spot historical study

What steps did you have to take to get here?
I had to save up and invest for decades so I could prove I didn't have to have a job. I didn't ask to stay forever, and that turned out to be the right thing.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
The head of the legation in DC was combatitively discouraging and asked inappropriate (I think) questions and offered way too personal advice. It was difficult to get proof of no criminal record, since every legation asks for a different source for proof of something that doesn't exist. That's a bit Schopenhauerean. I may have mixed up my philosophers. All I did was persist.

How long have you been here ?
I have been here more than three years now.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
I had a hard time accepting bureaucratic differences when I was convinced I knew a better way it could be done. I finally decided I didn't want to be Berlusconi and should just shut up and get over it.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I wish someone had told me they don't contact you for fees and taxes, you have to trudge around, once you find out where, and denounce yourself. Having to pay 1-3 years of some fee all at once is discouraging.

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Everything is different. Not better. Not worse. Just different. No one country has it all right.

Do you think you will stay forever?
I thought it would wake me up from filling in squares in a life I knew backwards and make me notice things again. It did.

Any disappointments?
I now know I will never be truly fluent in Italian. It breaks my heart, but I'm not bad.

CHRISTI

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Newly married, 33, originally from New York City. What I've written below pertains to L'Aquila, Abruzzo, not Italy as a whole. I'm sure that in the larger cities things are a lot different.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
My husband is Italian. It was a choice between his moving to New York and my supporting us on my legal secretary's salary, or my moving to L'Aquila and his supporting us with his small computer business.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
I'm still going through them, but I left my apartment, sold my car, reduced my personal belongings to those that could be transported in suitcases on the airplane. I still have to return to America (in a few weeks) to register our American marriage...there does not seem to be any system in place in Italy to register a marriage that took place outside of Italy.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
The biggest problem so far, is that the system does not make a lot of sense (IMO). We were married the beginning of October in NY. In order to register the marriage through the Italian Consulate in NY, we had/have to submit the marriage certificate in a certain form (long form, with signature verification, and apostilled). However, you must request the long form marriage certificate in person and cannot do so until you receive your short form in the mail (about 4 weeks later). Because we were married on Long Island I was able to receive the long form on the same day I requested it, but from what I understand if you were married in New York City, you then have to wait an additional 4 weeks to receive the long form through the mail. There is no expedited processing, I asked. Once you have the long form you need to then go to two more government offices (one for the signature verification and one for the apostille). After that, you need to go to the Italian Consulate in NY where I understand they will translate it for you and then register the marriage in Italy. If all of this was done as soon as possible, it would still require over a month of waiting time. In our case, Luigi had come to NY 2 weeks before the wedding and couldn't delay returning to Italy for another 6 weeks (at a minimum) and it didn't seem fair that I remain behind, so we just left. I've had to return to America once so far to deal with the paperwork and will return another time with Luigi (since it's the Italian citizen who must make the marriage registration request at the Consulate) shortly. We tried registering the certified, apostilled, translated long form marriage certificate here in Italy, but have gotten nowhere despite several strings being pulled. The Questura of L'Aquila is a nightmare. No signs, no directions/instructions, no lines, just mayhem. Luigi, a native (and an exceedingly patient person), cannot even deal with it.

How long have you been here ?
2.5 months

What adjustment problems have you had ?
oooooohhhhhh I can write a book. The largest is, of course, the language barrier. I can speak ugly Italian well enough to make myself understood, but here in Abruzzo a lot of dialect is spoken and it's impossible to understand.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
That life would be a lot less convenient, a bit less comfortable, and virtually every aspect of the culture is different.

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Have a thick skin, count your change, and don't expect to be able to wear your normal size within a month.

Do you think you will stay forever?
My soul mate by my side. Which makes it all worth it.

Any disappointments?
Everyone, everywhere smokes.

CRISTINA

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Married to an Italian from Siena with two young children. Came over as a single 30 year old looking to take a break for the restaurant biz and ended up falling in love with the city and a man

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Wasn't planning on moving. Was supposed to come, learn the language, go up to the north east to study grappa making then head off to a cooking school up in the north west. Met someone and stayed.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Originally I needed a student visa which was painless back then but now there are more rules (you must attend a real university in the states to get one). I got the visa in a couple of days.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
None as I said it was easy.

How long have you been here ?
a little over 9 years.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
At first I insisted that I knew better and that the American way was the only way to go. Over time, like my political leanings, everything has changed. I don't think any way is better, I just learned how it works here and it is simple.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I wish that I had learned a little bit about the world before I came over. The news media in the states is very biased. I am constantly amazed when watching the different news programs here, those from England and those from the US and the different slants they have on all three. The weirdest is the way CNBC censors sections for the NBC Evening News when it reflects badly on the UK. I wonder how much of that is done in the States???????

What inside secret could you pass on ?
A smile goes a long way. Oh and make friends with local police to help pull strings when needed.

Do you think you will stay forever?
YES!!

Any disappointments?
I do miss Dungenous crabs but other than that, nope.

Are you an EU citizen or did you come over with a visa and if so, what kind of visa?
Student visa then visa for family reasons once married.

BARBARA

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
married, retired. Adult children and grandchildren in the states.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Unexplainable...we first visited when my son was stationed there, and within 3 years, we were living here! The draw was just something intangible. but the food, scenery, history, and ease of travel (within Italy and throughout Europe) were certainly factors.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
WE asked questions, and more questions, and MORE questions! Most of the information was gained thru the SlowTalk message board, directly or thru contacts made there.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
the biggest problem we had was with the real estate purchase. We used an English company, and they were not knowledgeable about requirements for Americans. Eventually, with the help of our proxy and the listing agency, we were able to complete the purchase.

How long have you been here ?
We moved to Italy in September, 2003, so we are just getting our feet wet!

What adjustment problems have you had ?
"Things" cost more. shopping is a challenge...stores are all over the place, and we end up driving more than we shop! The afternoon closings have been bothersome while we are still trying to buy stuff for the house!

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Learn the language! Really...not just a few words/phrases!

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Make friends with an "insider"...someone who knows Italians and the Italian system, but still someone who will understand your American (or whatever) perspective.

Do you think you will stay forever?
YES!!!!!

Any disappointments?
Not so far, but we are still very much in the honeymoon stage!

Are you an EU citizen or did you come over with a visa and if so, what kind of visa?
US citizens, and we have an elective residence visa.

ANN

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Married, no kiddies (minus the hubby/boy)

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Hubby was born and raised here

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Just a couple of visits to the lovely Italian Consulate.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
None

How long have you been here ?
A year and a half

What adjustment problems have you had ?
Getting used to store/bank hours, going five million places to get 3 things.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Bring over as many books in English as possible, they're EXPENSIVE here!

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Don't know yet, hard to say.

Are you an EU citizen or did you come over with a visa and if so, what kind of visa?
Came over on a family visa, will become Italian by Halloween 2005.

JUDY
Divina Cucina

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Married and no kids. Cooking teacher

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
I moved here to study cooking in 1984.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
I bought a one way ticket and really did no prep. Thought I was going to travel around France and Italy. I had previously done the same for a year several years before, spending 4 months in Greece and 4 months in Israel, with some trips to Germany, Yugoslavia and England,

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
Not speaking the language in Italy was a drawback, but I had signed up for a month of school as soon as I arrived. Not knowing that the schools also provided housing assistance, I stayed in a small hotel for the first month. I was here illegally for the first three years. I went back every year to try to apply for a work permit, but had the wrong papers until the third time. Now I am married to an Italian and am thinking about getting Citizenship.

How long have you been here ?
I arrived in 1984

What adjustment problems have you had ?
really not many, I think perhaps I roll well with the punches.
but there are so many cultural differences that can make you crazy, just the bank and store hours, Usually when I was off, everything was closed. Now that is changing quite a bit.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
I think a basic Italian "Survival" course or a reality lesson.
How things work here. I think one of the most frustrating moments for people is thinking that they can live like they do at home, wherever that may be and getting upset when they can't.
To quote David Bowie.."This is not America"

What inside secret could you pass on ?
Italy is not for everyone. Learn some Italian and slow down.
Only try to accomplish one thing in the morning and one in the afternoon, and if you get these done consider yourself a winner!

Do you think you will stay forever?
Yes, I know I will. To me the perfect live would be to be here 9 months out of the year and spend the winter in a warm inexpensive place like Mexico!

LINDA
The Beehive

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Married with two young daughters who were born here

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
My husband and I were tired of the grind in Los Angeles and the fact that we spent more time in traffic and at jobs we were unhappy with than with each other. My husband had lived in Rome in 1995/1996 so we were familiar with the city and wanted to move here permanently.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
We obtained student visas and then we opened a business and my husband switched his permesso from study to lavoro autonomo. Since initially all the business documents were in his name (he arrived before I did), I have permission to be here for family reasons. We had the contents of our apartment shipped over which took 9 weeks to get here.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
Where to begin?!?! We had never owned a business before so everything was completely new to us. But my husband is a genius (IMO) and a pit-bull when it comes to getting things done. He doesn't let anything go until it gets done. We continue to run into problems, but once we resolve them it's another cause for celebration!

How long have you been here ?
Arrived in the spring 1999.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
Everything is different and so we have had to remove ourselves from our American mindset which caused problems for us initially and in certain ways, still does.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
You can get hints and tips and suggestions, but nothing can prepare you for taking such a huge step. Everyone's experience is completely unique.

What inside secret could you pass on ?
It's not a secret, but one of the most important things is to learn Italian. I cannot emphasize that enough. Your life will be much richer, fuller and easier. We try to view the bureaucratic hurdles as things to celebrate once we've accomplished them. Keep your sense of humor. It's saner to find humor in the frustrations you will encounter rather than anger.

Do you think you will stay forever?
Most definitely

Any disappointments?

Only that family & close friends are far away.

Are you an EU citizen or did you come over with a visa and if so, what kind of visa?
Came on a student visa.

CHRISTINA

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
I'm currently engaged to an Italian. We may get married next year.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
I came to Italy on a study abroad program for three months and ended up staying. It seemed like an interesting place to live.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
I had to apply for a Student Visa at the Italian consulate.

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
The only problems I ran into were misinformation problems. The consulate did not give me all of the info. I needed before I applied for my visa, so I had to go back a few times to get the paperwork sorted out. They were also very rude. But you get used to it smiley

How long have you been here ?
I've been in Italy a little over five years now.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
The usual culture shock stuff: adjusting to life in Florence, the formality, closed mindedness, superficiality, closed social circles, etc. The fixation on bella figura and all the rest.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
It is difficult to penetrate into Italian society (unless your dating an Italian) and almost impossible to make friends with Italians. Forget having friends of the opposite sex.

Do you think you will stay forever?
I doubt it. I should finish school next year sometime, and I am contemplating returning to the states, for various reasons, but mainly for better job prospects.

Any disappointments?
Yes. The fact that I have hardly any Italian friends. Friends and family of my fiancé excluded, obviously.

Are you an EU citizen or did you come over with a visa and if so, what kind of visa?
I came over with a student visa., It seems pretty thorough to me.

Can you think of anything that you would like seen added to this site?
Maybe something about cross cultural relationships

DIANE

A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Married to a recently retired Italian-born man who desperately want to move back to Italy. We have a son who will turn 5 in February 2004.

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?
Husband is retired and it's his dream to return to the town he spent his first 20 years in. I think it would be exciting, though I'm well aware that adjustment at my age (ahem...49) may be difficult. We'll do a two year trial, renting out our home in NY in the interim.

What steps did you have to take to get here?
Have not begun yet. Husband DID regain his Italian citizenship (he now has dual Italian/US) which should be helpful.

If you haven't gotten here yet, what steps are you in the process of?
Just hubby's dual citizenship. Once I know for sure when we'll be moving (now it looks like summer of 2005, unless I lose my job this June) we'll move forward quickly.

How long have you been here ?
We've been staying in the village for 6-10 weeks every summer (can you tell I'm a teacher?) and sometimes at Christmas for the last 3 years.

What adjustment problems have you had ?
I anticipate going bonkers but from past experience I know the internet helps, as will learning the language. Those are my first two priorities! A part-time job or really getting into my writing would also be beneficial for me. Luckily my husband knows lots of people in the village (related to about 10% of them I think!) and so I will at least see other people. In-laws downstairs (initially) may be difficult to adjust to as I'm used to absolute privacy here in NY in my self-contained huge house. I may feel they are judging me, even if they aren't (because I'm in my pajamas until 10 a.m., or serving sandwiches for lunch, etc.)

Do you think you will stay forever?
We'll do a two year trial and see how we adjust. In my mind's eye I don't see us moving back here unless we just miss family too much (we have a 3 year old grandchild 15 minutes away with whom our son is very close--we realize we might at best see him twice a year!

VANESSA


A little about yourself (married, single, kids, retired) :
Now married - I met my husband who is Italian on my first trip to Italy

Why did you decide to move to Italy ?

I wanted to spend some time learning the new language and finding out more about the country my parents and grandparents once called home... oh and I suppose my husband had something to do with it too!

What steps did you have to take to get here?
My parents are of Italian origin so I was lucky enough to apply for dual citizenship

What problems did you run into and how did you fix them?
Just the ins and outs of things like applying for a libretto di lavoro, codice fiscale, opening a bank account, converting a drivers license, appointing a doctor etc etc. It all seemed so complicated and overwhelming initially. Many times organisations seemed more reluctant to assist due to me being a foreigner.

How long have you been here ?
I initially lived in Italy for three years, we then moved back to Australia for two years and now we are moving back to Italy permanently!

What adjustment problems have you had ?
Feeling lonely and isolated at times as I had no other Australian friends to socialise and relate to.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap?
Good luck and don't worry you're doing the right thing!

What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over (either help with getting here or help with living here) ?
Try to make friends with the locals, especially when trying to learn a new language. Don't compare life to how it was at home, this just gets you no where and doesn't help with the homesickness!

What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I have matured, I've learnt a lot about life, I'm more open to change and thrive on challenge now.

Do you think you will stay forever?
Yes, I think this is it!

HELEN

Let us know a little about you (married, single, retired, student, etc.) ?
Single, working, 41, happy

Why did you decide/have you decided to move to Italy?
I studied here last year and after that decided that I had had enough of New York. Plus, I was offered a great job in Milan and even though I would prefer to live in another Italian city, the job was too good to resist.

What type of process did you go through to be able to move here
(visas, dual citizenship, forms, consulates, etc., please be detailed) ?

I am a UK subject, so the work stuff is not too difficult, but I am a US green card holder and have just applied for citizenship so I don't want to jeopardize that. So, I will be going back every 6 months and finishing my application soon, hopefully.

What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them (had to get a special document translated, didn't have the requested amount of monies, etc.)?
It helps to have wonderful friends in Italy. I have been lucky to be willing to help people with my English and to have received so much more in return.

How long have you been here?
On and off since Sept 2002.

What type of adjustment problems have you had?
It has been difficult to communicate sometimes, especially when looking for an apartment, but everyone appreciates it when you make the effort.

What do you wish someone had told you before you made the leap ?
I wish I knew how difficult it was to find an apartment in Milan.

What inside secret could you pass on to others looking to move over (either help with getting here or help with living here) ?
You must get an Italian cell phone and be prepared to speak the language at least a little.

Do you have any disappointments, things you thought would happen but haven't for whatever reasons ?
Would love to meet an Italian man who is not quite so attached to his mother!!!

What has changed about you since you have been here ?
I am more patient with bureaucracy now.

Do you think that you will stay forever?
Not sure, but I hope so.

TAMI


Let us know a little about you (married, single, retired, student, etc.) ?
My name is Tami. I am 25 years old and an American citizen. I've recently been married to an Italian citizen. I hold an American B.A. and Masters in Int'l Affairs.

Why did you decide/have you decided to move to Italy?
My final decision was based on love. It's a bit of cliché`, but true. I know I would have found myself living in Europe at some point in my life, but marrying an Italian sped up that process faster.

What type of process did you go through to be able to move here (visas, dual citizenship, forms, consulates, etc., please be detailed) ?
I dealt with the satellite Las Vegas,NV Italian Consulate and it appeared to be moving along fine until 3 weeks before my move I was told by the Italian Consulate in L.A. that everything that office in Las Vegas had done was incorrect. I only needed my birth cert. notarized & acknowledged by the Italian Consulate. After rude service and discourteous behavior from the L.A. Italian Consulate I had my fiancé` (now husband) personally call them and handle the situation for me. This solved my problem. The Consulates had not mentioned that my documents could have been organized and completed a lot easier in Italy alone. In the end, I came to Italy with only my original birth cert., State seal, Consulate seal of authenticity and my passport.

What problems did you run into during the initial process and how were you able to fix them (had to get a special document translated, didn't have the requested amount of monies, etc.)?
My fiancé` (now husband) translated all of my documents. All translated documents (birth cert, application of marriage) were accepted without problem. The Consulate in LA did not mention a $20 fee attached to the authenticity required of my documents. It was a minor annoyance, but easily solved.

Comments?
I might try to fill this out again after I've been here for a year. My assessment of my situation may adjust a bit and my outlook or perspective may have more insight into this move since I'm still quite new to living in Italy. I must say that the SlowTalk website has helped me a lot.

 

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