Una Visita a La Sacra

As soon as I published my post for the Monaco/Nice trip, I realized I skipped posting about my impromptu visit to the Sacra di San Michele, a symbol of the Piedmont region in Italia!

I’ve been meaning to go to La Sacra since September, because after my Lithuanian classmate told me about it, I googled it and—WOW! So I planned one Sunday…but had to cancel because I had to meet with someone. Then the following Sunday was no good because it was cloudy. And a few more days passed until, finally! A sunny Saturday!

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Said sunny Saturday.

I didn’t really intend to go until a few hours after breakfast. It was the weekend right before the first exam, and I had planned to stay in my room and study. But the skies were so clear and the sun was beaming down on me that I just had to.

And also because I’m a whimp and I needed to just GO, otherwise I’ll never go anywhere until the end of this residency. Continue reading “Una Visita a La Sacra”

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Traversing the AutoFiori: Monaco and Nice Daytrip

On the week of our first exam (which was on a Friday), the centre opened registration for a trip to Monaco and Nice on Saturday (October 14). I had initially wanted to go to Cinque Terre, but since I am still not confident traveling long distances by train, AND since the guest relations person told me I would be able to go to the beach(!!!), I signed up for the trip. It was also a good way to reward myself right after the exam (and rightfully so—I thought the exam was pretty manageable).

So on the morning of October 14, at 6:30AM, we were on the bus to the South-West! The first part of the trip was pretty boring and most of us tried to get some sleep. It was a smaller bus, by the way, compared to the one from Venice. I think there were only about 30 of us in the bus. When we got to the Autostrada A10, also known as “Fiori Autostrada” or “AutoFiori”, we got to see some sea! The A10 ran along the coast, through mountains. I marveled at the scenery and was so awed by the autostrada, but I honestly could not imagine myself driving on it.

(Eh, unfortunately, I did not download any photos from the first part of the trip to my laptop, so…)

Inside a tunnel, whose color changed from white to gray, we crossed the border of Italy and France and were greeted by the sun! SO. WEIRD. It was very gloomy in Italy, but the sun was shining brightly in France. What a treat!

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Vive la France! Menton, Apes-Maritimes viewed from the road.

But, our first (and longest, grr) stop wasn’t in France—it was actually in Monaco. In a few more minutes, we zigzagged down to Monaco, where I was delighted to spot a Starbucks (for some reason, when I see a Starbucks, I get the same feeling I get when I see a Landbank ATM—only government employees will understand me). Continue reading “Traversing the AutoFiori: Monaco and Nice Daytrip”

A rainy day in Venice

Finally found some time to write! We just finished our first exam today and despite feeling so nervous yesterday, I think I did pretty okay. We had the rest of the afternoon free and I realized I was too tired to go to Via Roma to look for some clothes (for what? Lol) so I stayed in my room. Found out that Steam was actually working (it was just the bad connection in my room previously), so I tried Worms out since my brother got it for me.

Anyway, today I wanted to write about Venice! When I got accepted into the LL.M., I will not deny that the first extra-curricular thing I wanted to do was go to Venice—by hook or by crook! Thankfully, the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organisation, having new trainees every week, is used to organizing excursions. So about two weeks in the program, they already had a schedule for Venice. It cost EUR 85, but since Venice would definitely not be easy to go to from Turin, and getting around would be confusing, I decided to join.

We went there by bus (from Turin, it was a 5-hour ride), and we had to transfer to a ferry that would take us to the historical Venice, the one everyone dreams of visiting. Unfortunately for us, it was a very cloudy and gloomy morning!

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Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario, taken from the ferry on the way to the island.

We got off at Castello, on the Eastern side of the island. Continue reading “A rainy day in Venice”

The Journey to Italy

I’ve been away from home for almost a month now! According to my DreamDays app, I have 80 days left in Italy!

I have to sleep, but  this post is way overdue. Well, there are many things to write about my “life” here in Turin, Italy, but I should focus on one for every post. For this post, I will write about leaving home. :)

Even before applying for this program (which I will probably write about later), I have long dreamed of living and studying abroad. It just seems so fancy, you know? But it wasn’t until my date of departure loomed nearer that I realized I may not be cut out for that kind of life! In fact, I was /so close/ to crying when my family dropped me off alone at the airport. At that instant, I wondered if that was what my father felt for the 30-ish years of his life that he lived working abroad every time he left for his job overseas. How difficult it must be for every single overseas Filipino worker that has to leave his/her family behind to provide them with a better life!

My leaving was made sadder by the fact that I only had 30kg of baggage allowance (quite possibly a mistake of the travel agency as everyone else got 40kg) AND the fact that I left my digital camera at home (the one that I bought last year specifically for travels like this), which, in Metro Manila traffic, will take us 3-5 hours to retrieve. After it had sunk in that I left my camera, I sobbed while eating my sandwich and sipping my apple chia drink from Bo’s Coffee. How silly.

But as I found my seat on the plane, I felt more calm and relaxed. Maybe because it was not uncommon for me to be on a plane without knowing anyone, or to be on a plane PERIOD. I knew that I always had a return ticket to Manila every time I leave her (if Manila is a woman, lol). So, from then on, I just had to look forward to coming home.

Anyway, after enjoying the changing lights of Turkish Air and fascinating safety video, we took off for a different land. I watched one movie (or was it two?) before deciding to sleep. Occasionally I would wake up, and I remember seeing Indian cities and Kathmandu at night. It was pretty exciting.

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I watched Passengers and Gifted
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Flight path

After almost 12 hours of flight, we arrived in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport and the landing was amazingly smooth. I didn’t see much of Istanbul since it was still in the wee hours of the morning. This was only my third flight with a transfer, so I was familiar to but still intimidated by the process of undergoing a second check.

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Good morning, Turkey!

Unfortunately for me, there were still 5 hours for me to kill, but there was no boarding gate posted for my onward flight. So I spent my time just trying to get a hold of people back home, and the WiFi. Lol. Because I only had larger Euro bills, I just ate my KitKat (from the Philippines, haha) and refrained from purchasing anything. I also did not want to use my credit card even if I had it activated for international transaction, because I only mentioned I was going to Italy (and was afraid they would block a transaction in Turkey).

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Yep. Definitely in Turkey.

It was two hours before the flight from Istanbul to Turin when they finally assigned a gate, and upon checking it, I quickly made my way to the boarding gate, where another group of passengers were boarding for another flight (was it Tehran?). I met one of my classmates there, whom I “met” previously through e-mail. We were seated in different rows so we would see each other again when we get to Turin.

The 3-hour flight to Turin was somewhat terrible—we wobbled at takeoff, so I was very jittery on the flight—possibly because of the lack of sleep, too. The food was good, but the window was dirty (I sat at the very back of the plane). There was nothing to do on the plane but sleep or look out the window. It was fascinating to see land everywhere. Usually, I’d just see the ocean out of the plane. It was also quite scary.

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Land everywhere!

We finally landed in Turin after three hours, and had to wait a bit to clear immigration (no questions asked for me!). The luggage…was a bit of a wait. But as soon as we got them, we went outside and looked for the ITC-ILO logo! Finally! We walked over to the parking and met two other classmates (plus another person whom we thought was also taking the same course but no, lol).

After a 30-minute drive, we arrived at the centre, checked in, and dragged all our stuff to our building (I met a classmate also from last year! It was funny, he helped me with one of my bags). We had lunch (I didn’t have much—I thought, what the hell is this food?!) and retired to our bedrooms. I wasted no time in taking a bath and unpacking everything before taking a nap. Ew, I had not taken a bath in a day. Lol. It was good.

Ahh. That was a month ago! Time flies no? But I’m so glad time flies! I’ll be home in 80 days! I’m so excited, but I know that in 80 days, my love for Torino would have grown deeper.

But more on Torino later. ;)

Legalization of school records & declaration of value in the Italian Embassy for study purpose

Two of the requirements for studying in Italy are: 1) to have your school records (diploma, transcript) legalized, and 2) a declaration of value of your bachelor’s degree. I have no idea what that means, possibly the same as a “DFA red ribbon”. I admit, when I first read those requirements, I no longer wanted to go! But it’s actually very simple, the words are just very new.

For this post, I’ll be doing a step-by-step guide so people can be enlightened. Please take note, however, that you should only follow this guide if you are doing it for the purpose of studying in Italy.

Step 1: Get certified true copies of your school records

Go to the school registrar where you got your degree. Have 2 copies each of your diploma, transcript, and English translation of diploma certified.

You should have 2 sets of the CTCs because you want to have one set authenticated by the DFA (“red ribbon”).

Step 2.1: CAV by DFA

You have to get a Certificate of Authentication and Verification of your school records from the DFA, through your school (and CHED, if applicable). I made a separate guide especially for UP Diliman students.

Step 2.2: Italian translation

Before you bring your documents to the Embassy, you need to have them translated into Italian. This is why you need your documents in English. In Zeta II Building in Makati where the Italian Embassy is, there are two translators recognized by the Embassy: Philippine-Italian Association and Societa Dante Alighieri. I meant to go to SDA, but the guard made me go to the second floor so I ended up in PIA.

I was charged PHP 3,400 for maybe 4 full-pages of documents, and was told to return after 5 working days (1 week). To save costs on trips, make sure that when you return, you are ready to go to the Embassy with all the required documents.

Step 3: Request at the Italian Embassy

The Embassy opens at 9AM and can accept visitors until 12NN. I suggest you go at opening. Tell the guard what you will be requesting for, they’ll give you a form and a number, and you should leave your cellphone and an ID with them. You need the following documents to request for Declaration of Value and Legalization (this is for undergraduate degree holders):

  1. A request letter
  2. A copy of your passport, and your passport (to show)
  3. DFA-authenticated school records
  4. Certified Italian translations of your school records
  5. Proof of acceptance into the school in Italy

They might ask you a bunch of questions, just answer them. You should provide them with a contact number where they can call you.

Step 4: Release

In less than a week, they already called me on my cellphone (but I couldn’t hear them, I was in a meeting and suspected it to be the Italian Embassy). I said “Hello hello hello hello” lol and had to hang up because I really couldn’t hear anything. They didn’t call again but they sent me an e-mail saying the documents are ready for pick-up. Yay!

I’ll update this post once I have the documents so you have an idea how they look.

I’m a step closer to studying in Italy!

Schengen Visa Application [Italy, Study]

This is a guide to applying for a Schengen Visa in the Philippines.

I am very lucky to have been offered a chance to study in Italy. While I still don’t have my visa (and thus would not like to claim that I am studying in Italy soon), I am still very thankful for being given the opportunity.

I received the offer early May, but only got around to applying for a visa by the end of June. For almost 3 weeks in May, I had struggled on the decision to go. With the assurance of my boss, I confirmed my participation and set out to get all the documents.

This experience is specific to the following:

  • Purpose of trip: Study
  • Main destination: Italy
  • Length of stay: Long (more than 90 days)

REMINDERS:

These are all no-brainers, but I am mostly copy-pasting from my previous post (about France).

Prepare your itinerary

This is a must because where you should apply for a visa depends on which Country/State you are: 1) staying in the longest; or if the length of stay for each Country/State is equal, then 2) entering.

If you have identified the Italian Embassy as the body that should issue your visa (like me) based on the above “rule”, then read on. Please note that since the purpose of my trip was for Study (and long-term), the documentary requirements may be somewhat different.

Make sure your passport is valid

This one is from the French Embassy’s agency’s website, but I figured should apply to any Schengen visa applicant, regardless of jurisdiction:

  • It must have been issued less than 10 years before the date of application (date of first issuance of passport)
  • It must contain at least 2 successive unused pages (facing each other) (2 blank pages)
  • The remaining validity of the passport must be more than three months, counted from the day the applicant intends to leave the «Schengen area»

By the way

As of writing, Visa Applications for the Italian Embassy (Ambasciata d’Italia) in Manila are handled by VIA. This means you no longer have to go to the Italian Embassy; instead, you go to VIA. I have been told, however, that the Italian Embassy still does take applications—only, you have to get an appointment schedule, which, legend has it, must be obtained months ahead.

BEFORE YOU PROCEED:

Please take note that I really could not help you with regards to questions like: How much show money should I have in my bank account?I’ve been employed for only xx months! Do you think I will be granted a visa?, and the likes, but I know how relieving it is to at least ask these questions out loud. Please take time to read the entire entry before posting your questions in the comments section. :)

Thanks, and good luck!

Continue reading “Schengen Visa Application [Italy, Study]”