Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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Umbrellas after the Bora

Moving to Italy for 9 months also means having to deal with the Italian bureaucracy in order to get the documents you need for your stay. Therefore, about one week after I arrive in Trieste, I go downtown with the intention of getting document A. I drop the kids off to school and walk to the designated office.

It is a windy and rainy day, and, as you can see from the photo above, the famous Bora of Trieste has already exterminated hundreds of umbrellas. But because of the inclement weather, many people has been discouraged from going out, which is good for me… As I enter into the lobby I gladly notice only a couple of people waiting. Nevertheless I get the ticket with the number: 82. I watch the screen: number 0. What? Apparently the screen is out of order. Obviously I ask who’s the last one. I acknowledge it, sit and wait, filling in the form in the meantime.

After about 20 minutes it’s my turn. Cool, not too bad so far, I think. I meet a very nice lady, who looks at the form and points out that it is incomplete since it is missing an important data. I ask: can’t you look for it in the system? I mean, I was born in Italy, my whole history is stored in their files. No signora, you need to go to office B, get it and then come back. Office B, okay. Where’s office B? She explains it to me, however I decide to call it for the day, because if I go to office B right now (almost mid-morning) chances are that I’ll need to wait in line for too long. I greet her and leave.

A few days later I go to office B. I arrive there before they open (it is a good thing that the kids start school at 8am after all…). There’s already a line formed in front of the entrance. I join the “happy” group, and entertain myself with the Kindle while I wait. The doors finally open; the crowd starts entering into the building to be met by the infamous number machine. I check the screens: they work just fine. Yes, things are going well today. I get the number, notice that there are only 4 people in front of me, so I sit and wait. After a few minutes it is my turn. I meet an I-am-so-bored-I-want-to-die guy who retrieves my forms, provides the document B I needed and I’m out of here. Cool! Easy, efficient, I cannot ask for more. Who said that the Italian bureaucracy doesn’t work??

I let a couple of days go by before returning to office A with my complete documentation. And again, I drop the kids off to school; I start taking a nice walk admiring Trieste’s beautiful buildings (only when my eyes are not engaged in the effort to avoid the dog poops that invade all sidewalks. Oh, I hate this so much…) and I finally arrive to office A. CLOSED. Closed??? But it is Wednesday morning, why in the world should a public office with always so many people in need of their service be closed one day a week? It doesn’t make any sense to me. And to many other citizens, I guess.

The only thing left for me to do is going back home, but first I need to use the restroom. And since it is nowhere in sight I ask to the information desk where it is. Go to the second floor, room 00. Room 00? For a moment I fear I need to get another number from another infamous machine, but as I get to the second floor and start searching for the room 00 (obviously there are no universal signs such as arrows and/or the always familiar little man or woman showing you the way) I see no crowd and I exhale with relief. I see no crowd, but I see no room 00 either, so I ask a guy who’s passing by: Excuse me, do you know where room 00 is? Room 00? Ah, the restroom!  Yes, thanks a lot. Then he points to a hallway. Room 00 is really a room with the number 00 above. No restroom sign whatsoever. Maybe they want to keep it secret? Never mind, I use it and go home.

The day after I’m back to office A. A few people are in front of me. I get the number, again. The display is broken, still. I ask who’s the last one, again. And sit, read, wait, you know the story. Two employees are working, but one has just left for a “few minutes”. After 25 minutes she is still gone. People keep coming, and only one desk is operative. Now it’s my turn, I deliver the documentation. Everything is ok, no missing parts. Relief. I decide I need a reward. I go to a bakery, get a little pastry alla ricotta and I happily go back home, slaloming again between dog poops. But today, after such an achievement, for some reasons, I don’t care.

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First day of school in Italy for Silvia and Alessio Tosolini

The kids’ first day of school was September 12th, Wednesday. Silvia had just one introductory hour, from 11am to twelve, while Alessio started at 8am and had a regular five hour schedule (until 1pm).

He was extremely calm, certainly due to his nature (lucky him), but probably also due to the fact that he visited the school and met four teachers one week earlier. This is something I strongly recommend: getting the teachers (maestre) to know the child, his situation, background, strengths and weaknesses before the school starts is a win-win situation on both sides. And providing a copy of the kid’s last school report is a good idea as well. When I went to pick him up he was just fine, and has been since.

For Silvia things went a little differently. I tried to reach her professors (professori) beforehand with no avail up until 10 minutes before school started, when I met her Italian teacher, professoressa Zocchelli, to whom I explained Silvia’s situation: the fact that she finished 6th grade with an average of an A, that she is a very responsible student, that during the summer I taught her some Italian geography, history and grammar (obviously I didn’t mention that sometimes I literally had to drag her to our living room to study together…), and so on. Professoressa Zocchelli was super nice with her and when the bell rang she took her to class. However one hour wasn’t enough for her to get to know the kids and be known by them, with the result that she wasn’t very happy when I went to pick her up….

Now things are better, she is getting used to the Italian school system and her classmates little by little. She does complain, and does it often, but always seems serene when she comes home from school. As for me, I’m working on meeting the professors one by one, which is a very slow task since email is still not used here and communications happen through the diario (exactly like when I was a child).

Nevertheless it’s a small thing to bear, since I still think that Italian schools are among the best.

Coming from abroad, have you ever had any experience with the Italian school system?

 

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How easy is to park in Italy?

On September 2nd we landed in Venice as usual, and, as usual, the car trip from the airport to my hometown, Trieste, was for me more nerve wracking than the one in the airplane crossing the Ocean. Even though I’m Italian, and I should be used to the Italian way of driving, I’m just freaking out when cars approach you from behind and drive at only a few feet from your rear bumper.

Luckily this time things went differently. My father, who came to pick us up at the airport, was suffering some discomfort to his leg and asked me to drive. And I did drive… very slowly. So slowly that he was starting getting upset and asked me if we would have made it to Trieste by dawn (it was 9pm, in case you were wondering…).

However, one thing that really made me think is how much harder it is for me to park my car in Italy. In the States, the biggest effort I have to make is to lift my finger to press the garage remote control installed in my vehicle. But here, well, see it yourself:

Obviously, this is not a car with automatic transmission, it has the clutch, which is probably half its size after this parking attempt…