Twenty Four Hours in San Francisco


  My boys

Jesse, Corey and I flew to San Francisco on Monday for to take an Italian exam, the CELI A2, an official language test to show adequate competency of the Italian language. With this certificate, one is eligible for a “CARTA DI SOGGIORNO” or a kind of Italian Green Card, permitting one to live in the country for five years until the renewal process,  instead of every two years, which we do now. For the past eleven years, we have to go thru this bureaucratic pain in the ass every two years, always an “adventure”, and completely stressed-filled and anxiety producing for me.  No one else in my family seems terribly bothered, my boys are just are annoyed they have to wake up early and go to the dingy government office building in Arezzo, the official headquarters of the Questura, the government branch that deals with immigration. That said, if we pass this test, it SHOULD reduce this ridiculous bi-annual procedure to every five years. Then the boys could only have to wake up early once every five years.

But to get this CARTA DI SOGGIORNO would be a major feat, a prodezza! What a dream it would be!

We arrived at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in downtown San Francisco and were met by Antonia F., who gave us the four hour exam. Once again, I am completely stressed out, knowing that these are high stakes, and we need to pass this test. The boys are non-plussed, having taken a million tests in the past many years, much harder than this.

I, on the other hand, have not taken a test in diversi anni (a nebulous, undefined amount of MANY YEARS, MANY!) I am sweating bullets, and it doesn’t help that the directions to the various sections of the exam make no sense, true to Italian form. There is no way to actually complete parts of this test properly. There is not enough information OR clear direction.

I am certain some underpaid government employee designed this test.

Or some professor that was in a hurry to get home to pranzo at 1 pm.

2 Jesse feigning a studious nature.

The worst was the essay question.

They give specific sentences with verbs that were not conjugated, you had to make up a story using ALL of their sentences and conjugate the verbs into “passato prossimo” or recent past. Well, that is easy. But the catch is, the story could be no less than 70 words and no more than 80 words.

However, all the sentences required that they give you added up to about 69 words. By the time you conjugate the verbs into passato prossimo, you can not possibly arrive at an essay under 89 words.  I know, I tried 7 different ways on scratch paper. Impossibile!

So my anxiety is thru the roof, I am tearing my hair out, trying to get this essay into 80 words and can’t, so I surrender, cut and chop words wherever I can, arriving at a final word count of 87, hoping for the best.

Jesse and Corey finished the exam an hour ahead of time, and went over to the comfy couches and did whatever they do on their Iphones. I finish up the test, with only seconds remaining, knowing that I made mistakes but praying that I passed the exam and that they passed it as well.

Antonia does not seem to know what percentage of correct answers one needs to pass to get the A2 certificate Italian Language Competency.  But she has only been working at the Istituto Italiano for two months. It is an official branch of the Universita’ di Perugia, and corporate offices are in Perugia, Italy. She then tells us she has not been paid by the Universita’ in her two months of working there.  Things move slowly in Italy. I thought I could get the results of this test in a few minutes and be on my way to my CARTA DI SOGGIORNO -the Grand Premio, or prize.  What was I thinking? Evidently, it doesn’t work that way. I may be waiting two months as well or when everyone returns from Ferragosto, the official Italian summer holiday where all work stops in August.

But the adventure was fun, and as always in Italy, things somehow manage to always out, so I think I will just believe that we somehow passed this test and someday, un domani, we will get our five year CARTA DI SOGGIORNO.

IMG_8383Tram ride back to the airport


IMG_8350Corey KNOWS it will all work out

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1 Response to Twenty Four Hours in San Francisco

  1. Tim Sweeney says:

    Great story, Stacey! Thanks for sharing!

    You’re (all 3 of you) very fortunate to have such a good reason and opportunity to sit for the exams, and I’m very hopeful and expecting that after all of your years of being immersed in the Italian language and culture, you’ll pass with flying colors.

    I hope the boys appreciate all that you’ve given them with this dual way of living. Not too many people are given such an opportunity to be aware of the difference between the commercial, consumerist American lifestyle and others, especially the Italian lifestyle, with more beauty and art intrinsically within, that is, more truly “cultured”, and to be able to benefit from such experiences.

    Keep up the writing! It’s another great artistic ability of yours that needs to be shared with all of us!

    Thanks, best wishes to all, and come visit in Reno!

    Tim & Kathy

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