Or at least I thought it was going to be free time but the citizenship process and going to see a shrink took care of that quite quickly.
|Like this but with a mouldy ceiling to look at.|
What I really wanted was some counselling as they have in the UK, as I had had some at university once and found it very helpful, which involves chatting to a person over a glass of water or a cup of tea where they help you address your problems in an unbiased manner. Events in my life had left me feeling completely overwhelmed so when a doctor suggested I see a psychologist I was curious.
In the end it was a very funny experience. I think I did about seven 90 minute sessions (at considerable expense) composed of me lying on a sofa talking to the air while the mysterious signora sat on a chair behind me and took notes, very occasionally asking me to go into more detail on certain matters. It felt like one of those Woody Allen type films set in New York several decades ago. Whilst it was awkward having to talk continuously about myself at first I got quite good at it and at the end of the seven sessions certainly felt somewhat clearer mentally.
So imagine my surprise when on the final day the psychologist announced that I had made great progress but should definitely come back to do more work, especially since I work with children. I thought this was a neat way to make me feel crazy and guilty at the same time, but unless the parents are prepared to pay for endless therapy, and until the psychologist sorts out the terrible damp problem in the office the children will just have to put up with me as I am!
|Time to learn the National Anthem?|
I also set to work on the citizenship process almost immediately as I could just imagine how long it was going to take and I didn't want to get caught out in the event of a quick Brexit (which does now seem rather unlikely but hey-ho). The list of necessary documents for citizenship via marriage was very short - only about 5 points long which was reassuring, but quickly revealed itself to be the tip of the iceberg as obtaining each document required many other documents.
It seems you do not need a) an Italian language certificate or b) your marriage certificate which was a surprise, but instead you need a criminal record certificate from your country of origin (translated and notarised twice) along with your birth certificate (translated and notarised twice) a couple of postal order payments and all your addresses since the age of 14. This was a bit of a nightmare as I had no records of my addresses at uni and had to trawl years of photos and google street view to piece together my many moves.
I thought I also needed a proof of long term residency certificate from the comune too, but then when I finally got myself logged into the Ministry's citizenship website (yes even in Italy things are modernising!) I could not find it mentioned anywhere. This felt like a shame as I had made 3 different trips to get this and spent money on it so I uploaded it anyway.
In the end I sent it all off with a mere click and got a PDF document receipt and my request is now somewhere out there in the ether waiting for an official to notice it. I gather it could take up to 18 months to get a reply so fingers crossed.
In any case I do have some very good news and that is that I passed my C2 CILS exam. My terror of the written paper (I had very little prior experience of writing in Italian) meant that I practised all the past papers I could get my hands on and in the end I got full marks for it. I turned out to be slightly too relaxed about the speaking exam and did only a few simulations and ended up scraping a pass which is very funny with hindsight as that was the one exam I thought I could ace.