Saturday, August 15, 2009

Prescriptions, internet service and visas, oh my!

The logistics of setting out to live in a foreign country, especially one as filled with bureaucratic red tape as Italy, can be overwhelming! The irony of it all is that as much as we Americans like to plan and get stuff done in advance, countries such as Italy make it impossible to do so and eventually you find yourself putting everything off until the last minute.

Sure, I'd like to spend the next week relaxing and spending time with my loved ones, but instead I know that I'll be making photocopies, trying to fill prescriptions, making phone calls to the Bel Paese for internet service and negotiating with AT&T so that I can keep my NC phone number while in Italy, without paying a ridiculous fee!

The truth is that when going on a long trip to a foreign country, almost nothing that you need to do can be done until A) you have your visa in hand - which in itself is no easy feat, B) you are very close to flying out of your home country, or C) you are in your new, host country.

It's hard for someone like me to deal with that, because if I could, I would have done all this weeks ago, but weeks ago all involved parties: my doctor, the pharmacy, the Italian consulate, AT&T, my new landlord, the school I am going to work for, my friends living in Italy, etc.; all told me that I needed to wait. I needed to wait for that brief opening in time when everything can be done at once. For Italy, it is no more than 90 days and no less than 30 days before you leave. And no matter what, you won't see your Visa (which allows you to live in the country) until exactly 30 days before you either way you must wait until that point.

But beware of the insurance companies rules as well, because you cannot fill prescriptions at the wrong time. As it is I have found that I will have to fill and pay for (out-of-pocket) a total of 4 prescriptions, so that I will arrive with a year supply in hand, because my insurance here will not pay for anymore prescriptions and my insurance in Italy will not cover them. Of course, then I need several copies of my prescriptions in hand, in case my bags are checked at any border. And these days everyone is going digital so trying to explain to your Dr. who just switched to an electronic medical recording and prescription service that you need PAPER copies of your prescriptions is very fun indeed!

No, I am not complaining, just remarking on the fact that try as I might not to procrastinate, a world full of red tape, ridiculous deadlines, and paperwork does not make it very easy. So, until my plane takes off from Newark airport in less than 2 weeks, my head will swirl with an endless 'to do' list. By the time I set foot in Italy however, those lists will have already faded into distant memories, for nothing quiets the mind like a glass of native Italian wine at an outdoor cafe in a town filled with the works of the great masters!

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