In Costa Rica I decided for sure I wanted to go back to Italy as soon as possible. The police in Rome had explained to me I had to wait six-months to come back with another tourist visa (i.e. just come back and get a passport stamp on arrival). Or if I wanted to come back sooner, I would need a work or student visa. At the time I was a little annoyed to find this out, because this is for the whole EU. I don’t know if a work visa is even possible for someone self-employed, so I went off researching student visas.
Last time I went on a tourist visa, but the San Francisco Italian Culture Institute, who gave me my scholarship to study Italian in Rome, had encouraged me to get a student visa. They told me that the rules had changed and now student visas are even for people taking language classes not just for university students like it was before. Unfortunately I knew less than I do know and when the paperwork didn’t come threw in time I just blew it off.
Based on these experiences, I figured I would find a language school in Rome, enroll in part-time classes, secure a student visa, and stay in Rome for a spell. The first thing to do was to contact the Italian Consulate to make sure I was on track.
Immigration is handled by the Italian General Consulate in New York City (Newark does not do visas). They insisted I made an appointment (I had to call at $2.50 per minute) and come in person to ask my questions. The women I talked with fortunately fell into the portion of Italians who think it is just adorable that I try to speak their language. “Americana” she called over to the woman at the next window gesturing at me and smiling. It was a little discouraging at first, as she gave me the impression I would have to be a university student to get a student visa. Then we realized I had an incorrect understanding of the six-month rule. It is not that I have to wait in the US for six-months after exhausting my time in the EU; it is that I can stay in Italy/the EU for three-months in any six-month period. That means the six-months started when I arrived in the EU, not when I left. It actually makes much more sense this way. And even better, this means I would be clear for arrival as of February 25th instead of May 23rd. I was pretty excited.
I wanted to go immediately. The only real commitment I have is my cousin Corrine’s wedding May 7th as well as any bridesmaid events beforehand and a few family parties. The family parties I have been missing for years, so that was not much of a problem. I did however, feel terrible for missing the bridesmaid stuff. But there was nothing to be done for it. I wanted to go and the only alternative was to sit and wait at my parent’s house in New Jersey for two months, and surly something else would come up in that time. So it was decided, I would leave immediately and come back just in time for the wedding; that works out to just over two months in Italy.
I bought my ticket with Continental points. There is no markup for buying last minute and I don’t really want them laying around with the United merger happening. After that the major things to do were pack, die my roots, and file my taxes. My appointment with the Italians was February 17th, I flew out 7 days later on the 24th. It was a busy week.
And now here I am, exactly six-months after I arrived in Le Cinque Terre this past summer. I’m living just north of Rome in a beautiful two-bedroom condo with two balconies and a garden and my Romano. Daniele made one of my favorite things for lunch, gnocchi with pesto. We also had fresh ricotta and salad and wine. It was only a little weird that it felt like 6 AM for me. Then I had a nap and he went to work, but he left me a tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad in case I got hungry. So far pretty good.