I keep running list of titles of chapters for my memoir in the Notes section of my phone. However since a memoir seems too premature and too intensive than I’m really prepared to take on right now, they shall become blog posts. Here’s the first.
I had been thinking about taking a TEFL course for a year before I actually pulled the trigger. Even when I was officially signed up, I wasn’t really “in.” I was still procrastinating on travel plans and teetering on the edge because I was too scared to make a decision (a consistent theme in my life…). This being the case, I messed up and didn’t book my appointment at the consulate early enough, so I couldn’t get a visa before the course, so I had to fly back after because I didn’t want to get deported if I was caught working illegally.
However since I was still on the fence about moving to a different country to become an English teacher, I was pretty okay with this. I would take the course, come home and regroup, make money and find a job before returning. I could do all the scary stuff from the comfort of my hometown. Perfect, right?
Before I realized I messed up booking an appointment, the school I got TEFL-certified through gave me the documents I needed to apply for a 6-month study visa (1 month for the cert + 5 of teaching practice). I read a lot online about it and it typically went well. Mind you, I would dare to say that none of those people had flown home after the start of their visa period to apply for said visa. But I was optimistic and naive: I love Italy! Italy loves me! It’s all good!
I applied for a six month study visa, which allows you to work up to 20 hours a week. Since I read extensively about work visas and learned they’re mostly regarded as every expat’s white whale, I decided this was the best option to get me to Italy and get me working before I could charm a school into giving me a work visa.
The last time I applied for a visa was January 2015. I assumed the process was the same and it mostly is. However in 2015, I picked my passport up from the visa office after it was approved. Since they have changed their rules: I was supposed to show up with a self-addressed, prepaid priority envelop. I figured this out while I was on the train with no extra time. I took the subway alone for the first time and sprinted to the closest post office I could find. Thankfully I made it back to the office at the very end of my 15 minute slot.
I sat down inside the office and started getting all my papers together when I realized I couldn’t find my pictures. I put my papers on the empty seat next to me as I rifled through my bag and got yelled at for using up the chair. My number was called and I felt really dejected because they couldn’t possibly give me a visa without my picture (unless they pitied me and helped a girl out??).
The student visa-granter read through my letters from my school (in Italian) and became increasingly confused. She kept asking why I was learning English in Italy and I kept trying to explain the real purpose of the course. She had me sit back down and wait while she sorted some things out. I was then called up to talk to her supervisor. I knew this was not boding well for me & my visa & my new Italian life. He was vaguely aggressive and kept asking me why I needed to be in Italy for this, why did the school not say I graduated, why Italy why me etc etc etc. He asked if I spoke Italian (yes) and then asked me a question in Italian but I was so nervous that I couldn’t understand. The woman next to him told him “she wants to teach” in Italian, and I was like “finally! She gets it!” However after I left I realized she was not saying this to help me out, but to discourage him from giving me the visa.
He finally told me that he didn’t really think I needed to be in Italy for this. Before I left he said “be careful…it is illegal to work in Italy without papers.” YES MY DUDE! That is why I am here!!!! At the visa office!!!! Applying for a visa that will enable me to work 20 hours legally!!!!! What the heckie!!! But I said thank you and left.
I collected my phone, walked up the stairs (the consolate in Manhattan is in an intimidating basement) and sat on the sidewalk and cried. Then I walked on the street and cried. My plan was ruined! I called my two best friends, I called the two friends I was supposed to be flying back to meet, work and live with at the end of the month, and I emailed my would-be boss. My would-be boss was super tired of me asking him how my work visa was going and stopped answering me. I missed my flight to Naples and I forgot about Italy for a while.
One of my fav coworkers asks me about Italy every Saturday that we work together. After a few weeks of stalling I finally realized that I love Italy and I’m not going to let one denied visa stop me from living where I want and doing what I want. I stopped being so melodramatic and thought about people who’s lives actually depend on their visas being approved. I started talking to Italian Tinder Boy about work visas and citizenship (my great-grandfather was born in Italy) and reached out to an immigration lawyer to get the facts. I applied to a whole bunch of schools. I reached out to an Italian language school in Florence (yes….. I’m probably going to try for another study visa….. w/e). I’m taking Italian classes with the professor that guided me through my first jaunt through Italy.
Basically, ya girl’s back on her shit. After a lifetime of being scared to make decisions, I’m diving in. This has been on my mind for so long and I’m not going to get discouraged anymore. Something I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter why you like something, it just matters that you do.
Ciao for Now,
Have you ever gotten denied for a visa?? Do you have any experience with working in Italy & applying for the proper paperwork? Tell me about it!!