My First-Hand Experience as a Università Cattolica Student
As someone who studied in Korea for my undergraduate program, I was ready to face a lot of turbulence when I decided to apply for a post-graduate program in Milan. However, as someone who has paid 3,000 EUR and will have to pay another 6,000, I was disappointed upon the service that the university has given me.
This is my story. (Part one of many, I hope).
I landed in Milan on Monday, September 3rd, unfortunately, due to the jetlag and lack of sleep on the plane, I got sick. I had already planned to go to the university that day to give them some documents for enrollment, but since I wasn’t well and was exhausted, I decided to postpone the appointment at school to the next day.
The next day came around, and I had to figure out how to go to the university campus. As my landlord suggested, we thought it would be best for us to get the one-year metro card, to save money for travelling from the get-go. Once we get to Duomo, a subway stop on our way to the campus, we went to the ATM Point — where we were supposed to get the metro card and found ourselves dumbfounded with the sheer amount of people queueing there. Our landlord suggested to come after the afternoon rush hour ended but 2.30 PM was definitely not the right time. My boyfriend scrambled to ask information from random people over there, including the ATM point door guy, and we decided to wait for a bit while my boyfriend rushed to get his photo for the application taken. He came back at around 3 PM and with my face of desperation I said, “Let’s just go, the line’s literally stuck and we will be late for the meeting on campus.” And so we left.
We took the subway to S. Ambrogio and with the help of his google maps, we finally got to the campus. Once we got there, we tried to find room 136, the master office which we were supposed to go to. Right off the bat, it was confusing for me cause everything was in Italian and I wasn’t sure if the first floor was the one after the ground floor or if the ground floor was the first floor. After a few minutes of figuring things out, we got to the right floor — or we thought so at least, but as far as both our eyes could see, there was no room 136.
“Please ask that dude in the bathroom,” I said as we passed by a bathroom.
“No, c’mon let’s just look at that floor plan right there.” He said as he dragged me away from the innocent man in the bathroom.
Upon inspections, I said “There is no fucking room number here. Everything just says ‘Ufficio’, which I assume means ‘office’ right?”
“Please just ask that guy. Please seriously.” I begged him as I was really tired from all the drama at ATM Point, and now the room searching bullshit.
“He was a new guy working there, he knows nothing,” He said in disappointment.
As soon as Jon Snow left — the guy who knew nothing, there was our next victim, going into the bathroom. He was wearing a normal t-shirt and jeans, and from his age, he looked awfully like a student, so I wanted my boyfriend to try his luck and ask him again. Unfortunately, he was another Jon Snow. So, we went through different corridors and checked different rooms until 15 to 20 minutes later, my boyfriend asked the girl inside this room if it were the master office, and she said “YES.”
I have prepared all the documents that I could have possibly need for this meeting and she basically took all of them for enrollment. Another girl that I was supposed to meet from admission also came and explained about the residence permit that I’m supposed to get and about how she will send me a PDF on that.
The next day, we went on another adventure after filling in the form for the residence permit with all the information we got from the PDF. We had to go to a place called tabaccheria (a place that sells tobacco and Italian’s trustee espresso among other things) to get a “duty stamp” worth 16EUR. Then, copied a few documents that I didn’t make copies of at home (since they didn’t tell me) at a copier that google suggested. Then, we were off to the post office to send the whole form with the documentary supplements. Once we got there, talked to this lady and paid the post office 30EUR and about 76EUR for the application. And after all that trouble, I finally got my appointment with the police to receive my residence permit in January next year.
Next, I had to open a bank account for my appointment next year and I decided to get that over with, also because I have a lot of money in cash to just leave in my suitcase at home. We went to a nearby bank next to the post office, but unfortunately, we were faced with another drama.
“So, they’re telling me that they need your residency permit to open a bank account,” My boyfriend said.
“But I need to open a bank account to get this residency permit,” I said as I struggle to understand this flawed logic.
Finally, after a few minutes of arguing and talking, we decided to leave and asked those two lovely — or not so lovely girls who work for the admission, to tell us how do we fulfil the ‘having some money’ requirement when meeting the police.
Admission lady 1 — Thing 1 said, “Just use the old statement you used to apply for your visa.”
This obviously doesn’t work, since when applying for these things, you need the most recent bank statement and I don’t have any more money in Indonesia, which means I can’t print a new bank statement.
Thing 2 said, “Go to these two banks which has always accommodated the Cattolica students well.”
After all these disappointments I have about the lack of information for the students, I decided to voiced my opinion to Thing 2, and she got upset, saying that I should have expected problems when studying abroad and that the school has been nothing but helpful. And so, we went on an email war, with me defending myself as I have studied abroad before and these problems or disappointments that I have are merely due to their unorganized-selves when giving information. She then said that other students are more grateful than me when given such help or information. I defended myself one last time, saying that I was grateful but merely disappointed and want some improvements since I have paid quite a large sum of money compared to if I were to go to other cheaper Italian universities.
If you think the drama’s over, you’re greatly mistaken.
The week of orientation came and since I was suggested by Thing 2 to come, I wanted to make the best out of my visit around the campus area by going to the two banks to see if I can open my bank account there. We woke up at 7 AM, got ourselves ready, then left at 8 as we were hoping to arrive at 8.30 when the bank opens. As we arrived at Bank number one, my boyfriend did the talking for me, as usual.
“My girlfriend wants to open a bank account.”
“Oh the guy who is in charge of this is sick though, come back next time.” The banker said totally unlike this in Italian and this is merely my way of paraphrasing.
Since the orientation started at 9.30 and it was almost 9 when we got there (it was too hard to navigate our way there, so we arrived at the bank late), we decided that I can just go to the orientation room and wait. And of course, once it started, Thing 2 immediately said “no need to take notes of this presentation. We will send you a PDF of this later.”
I immediately responded quietly, “then why the fuck are we here then?”
The girl who sat next to me chucked in agreement.
It was an excruciating one and a half hour and I had to pee, so I excused myself to that same girl and went to the bathroom. Since I wanted to become the model student — I really don’t, I just wanted to see what Thing 2 was gonna explain next, I then found out that she was explaining about the permanent residency bullshit that I already went through after I got to room 136 the other day. Even though I just sat back down, I excused myself one more time to the poor girl who had to let me leave.
Since we left earlier than we planned and we had some time to kill, we decided to check out the other bank near campus. It was a 10-minute walk or so, and once we got there, we stumbled into another surprise.
“My girlfriend wants to open a bank account.”
“Oh, your girlfriend is a non-EU person right? Yeah, we can’t have that, so I think I’m just gonna give you an excuse that you have to make an appointment to open a bank account, okay? Come back next time and good luck.” The banker said in a totally different way than my paraphrase, but the exact way as how I took the news.
This adds up to my disappointment with the university if this is the case and I have to get an appointment before opening an account, why not tell us beforehand. Also, why not tell me about this bank bullshit way before I tried to go to the first bank. I’m not down to three banks that I’ve tried to open my account at, and so far, nothing.
Another thing that grinds my gear right now is the new information I got during orientation about the health insurance. I might have skipped over this part, but I had to purchase a health insurance to apply for the residency permit. I followed the instructions in the PDF — paid 120 euro a year for an insurance that I wasn’t sure what for and only did it cause I had to, and waited for an email with the receipt of my purchase. The morning after, I got an email from them with my username and password which I wasn’t sure what for. So I asked Thing 2 if I had to wait for this receipt email or what do I exactly had to do. It turned out that I had to go in my account and printed the receipt myself — which wasn’t explained in the PDF, an information that could have been easily added there.
As I was saying, during the orientation, they told us about how there are three ways to buy health insurance. First one is to get it in our home country, which I have asked the Italian Embassy in Jakarta about, and they told me that I need an buy a health insurance once I’m in Italy. Second, to get the same insurance I got which covers ‘the basic things’ they said. The last one is to pay 20EUR extra to get full health assistance coverage. If I had known, I would have paid 20EUR extra just for this. Not only that, after trying to figure out the website of my health insurance, I found out that I could only be sick up to 3 times a year.
Yes, all the regret I have for everything is now piling up. Maybe I shouldn’t have come here, stayed home, or simply should have done more research myself and not rely on them to give me enough information, but I’m definitely not satisfied with Cattolica’s admission staff.
“What about the course itself and the department?” You asked.
That’s a story for another day.