So there I was, enjoying a cappuccino from my fancy new espresso machine and looking over school emails. I had taken a kickboxing class the previous evening and also gotten a decent night’s sleep, two things which are hard to come by in my program. Then I was off to the police station to pick up my Permesso di Soggiorno (residence permit) before heading to school for Italian class. Everything was going smoothly – this was the last of the paperwork I needed done for the time being – and then… wait, why am I locked out of the police station? But its 4:24pm, the exact time of my appointment! The guy on the other end of the intercom casually tells me to come back on Friday. Uhh, but my appointment’s today, and I had to blow off a group meeting for this, not to mention I don’t even know if I can come back on Friday, and doesn’t anything ever go according to schedule here?!
Within 30 seconds, I had gone from calm & collected grad student to just plain crazy American girl, stomping down the street and talking to myself with exaggerated hand motions. And then I took out my frustration on the first person I came in contact with, which just happened to be my friend and classmate (Mo, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry!) The truth is that this is just one in a long list of things that have not gone according to plan since I moved here… let’s just say that Italy isn’t exactly known for its stellar customer service. It took me about an hour, and too many biscotti, to calm down and realize I was letting this get to me more than I should. And it reminded me of a piece of advice that my admissions rep, Tyler Henderson, told me when I first let him know about my acceptance:
” My suggestion is just to embrace the chaos that will ensue as you handle all the logistical details. If you let it overwhelm you it will, so just enjoy it!”
Woops, maybe I need to stick a post-it of this on my bathroom mirror. Last year, I remember having a discussion with my cousin when I was visiting him in Chennai about how chaotic life in India seems: people crammed into buses, crossing the street in a way that makes New York jay-walking seem like child’s play, hundreds of people out in the street. It can be overwhelming to someone who is not used to that environment, but amidst all the madness it still keeps going. And even though Italy is worlds apart from India, its way of operating is still very different from what I’m used to. But that’s just one other thing I will be learning this year, and didn’t I want to do this program to learn about another culture and work environment anyway?
In any case, they may not have the best customer service, but Italy sure knows their coffee! 1-1.
Today’s tip: First lesson of becoming Italian – learn to shrug it off!
Me: Uh, I just flew in and there’s no trains going to Milano because of a train strike, so I’m stranded in Bergamo. $@%#!
Alessandro: Welcome to Italy!