Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bureaucracy - as complicated as its spelling.


Is it just a coincidence that the word "Bureaucracy" kind of translates roughly as "Office-crazy" as in "Office" in French and almost the word "Crazy" in English? I think that about sums it up. As of February 16th, 2012 I will be on a one year leave of absence from my job at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at UBC and will be jetting off to live and work in Europe - mainly Germany and possibly a bit of a stint in Italy as well. My initial dream was of Italy....but then I experienced the world of Italian bureaucracy first hand and finally started to understand why Italians are famous for it.

I wanted to apply for the working holiday visa for 18-35 year old Canadians to work and travel in Italy (I highly recommend it if you are only going for a max. of 6 months). When I realized I would be going for a year I thought there may be a way around this. I decided to take a day off work to go to the Italian consulate since they didn't respond to any of my questions via email and didn't pick up their phones. When I arrived downtown Vancouver at the Italian consulate there were no signs directing you anywhere so I asked a random man where to go and he told me visas were the 7th floor but that I needed an appointment. I just smiled and nodded. Turns out he was working the reception desk there and had the strangest Italian accent I've ever heard. So I ask the woman at the reception desk if I can talk to the visa officer and once again she tells me I need an appointment to which I tell her that it doesn't say that anywhere on the website and no one responded to my inquiries. Finally she sighs and tells me to wait until after these other women are served and then she'll allow me to talk to the visa officer. I could tell she was less than impressed with me so far. After an hour of helping one person I finally get to talk to the visa guy. He told me he remembered getting my email but that the email didn't work when he replied. I just laughed to myself because my whole email address is in Italian...it would be pretty hard for him to mess it up. Anyways, he told me that the visa is only for 6 months for all of Europe and that I'd have to leave Europe immediately after 6 months and have all my return flights booked in advance. Then he proceeded to tell me that the only way to stay longer would be to have an Italian employer offer me work, then I would have to return to Canada, apply for an Italian work permit and only then could I go back. Also upon arriving in Italy I would need to register with a city within the first 8 days and I still haven't been able to figure out if you have to stay in that city or if you are allowed to live elsewhere. The website says a different thing than he did, naturally. I have to say it was quite fascinating watching the various characters come into the consulate and chat about their personal lives in front of everyone (divorces, home ownership in Italy, and lots more). I could understand bits and pieces of it anyway.

Needless to say I realized that this was not a very likely scenario (getting a job offer and returning to Canada to apply for a permit, that is). Senore visa officer (who was actually very nice but not very informative) vaguely answered a few other questions which contradicted most of the information I got from the website again and then I sadly kind of gave up on the Italian visa idea. I still hope to possibly study Italian or work some English immersion summer camps in Italy (which don't require a visa), but we shall see. If nothing else, I will visit and eat good food and see my relatives and hopefully bask for a little while under the lovely Tuscan sun, see the magnificent David again in Firenze and of course enjoy the world's most beautiful language (in my humble opinion :).

The other factor in my decision of course is the state of the Italian economy right now...I think I'm starting to understand why it is the way it is. I decided to look into a visa for Germany (since my wonderful cousin Greg loves it there so much!)....and that will be my next blog post.