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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Contacting the Consulate

For the past couple of weeks I have been contacting the Italian consulate in regards to applying to the University of Urbino. And let me tell you that they do not make things easy. Everything is made more difficult than it has to be. I had first contacted the university stating that I would like to study there. The lady on the other side of the world gave me a bunch of information, stating that I would have to do a ‘domanda di preiscrizione’ at the consolate. The ‘domanda di preiscrizione’ is in simple terms, a request to register. However, from information received from the consulate in New York, not only was I corresponding with the incorrect consulate, that I needed to speak with the consulate closer to me in Newark, but I also had to do the ‘dichiarazione di valore’ – declaration of validity, for my university transcript and diploma.
To tell you the truth, it sounds a little stupid and purposely made to be more time consuming. Not only that, but the consulate only allows for this to be done in the span of one month! The woman in New York advised me to address the one in Newark with urgency. This is where I arrived at yet another road block. I called the number I was provided with, only to be answered by an answering machine. Great! So, I left a message, knowing clearly that I would never be answered if I did not call elsewhere. A bit upset about not being able to speak to a person, I called the operator of their intricate telephone system. After five minutes of listening to all the buttons to press for such and such an extension, a woman responded. What luck, I thought. Maybe I’ll be able to get some answers and set up something with someone who’s currently present. More bad news spilled out of her mouth. Trust me, hearing it said in Italian did not make the situation seem any better. She explained to me that the signore that deals with these matters was not in the office and would not be back until May 26! I frantically explained to her that I desperately need to proceed with the dichiarazione because the deadline for the pre-enrollment was looming, May 30. Unfortunately, she had no idea what I was talking about. She basically responded, “La dichiarazione di valore? Che cos’e'? Cosa scade?” (The declaration of validity? What’s that? What is expiring?” There was apparently no one else I could speak to, except him, and evidently she was not aware of the process.
After hanging up with her, I decided to call the consulate in New York. However, no one was responding to my calls. After an hour of waiting, I decided to try again. This time I spoke to a rather flustered and impatient woman. She said, “All this information can be found online. You’ll have to visit our website.” I was, as you can imagine, upset by this response. I replied, “I looked on the Newark consulate’s website and there is no information listed on the site. The pages are blank!” She said, “ok, so look for it on our site. You’ll find the information there.” I said, “well, I would if it was on the New York’s site!” She started muttering in English as she looked through the pages on the site, then declaring that I was right. Then she said, “let me try in Italian.” She started going through the pages, and finally responded, “you have to look on the Italian version. Do you know a little Italian? Good. That’s where you’ll find your information.” I just muttered “thanks for all your help.”