I have no idea what it’s like to be an immigrant or a refugee, to be someone who is forced to leave your country because of poverty, war, or violence. I don’t know what it’s like to be forced to move to a country where you don’t speak the language and where very few people speak your mother tongue (English is obviously the exception because it is so widely spoken around the world). I cannot imagine moving to a place where you feel unwanted and unwelcome and a complete outsider.
What I do know is this: I have applied to more than 250 rooms in apartments in Rome for a more permanent location than where I’m staying now, and not one has come through. Oh, I’ve been to see places, I have corresponded with people about various rooms, but nothing. The most frequent response I get is none at all. Often the response is, “The room has just been rented,” (and why they then don’t take down the advertisement or listing is a mystery to me). I have encountered people that won’t rent to non-Italians, and I have been told by others they don’t want someone who isn’t fluent in Italian. This I can understand, as I would want to speak the same language as someone sharing an apartment with me. I am in their country, and it is not crazy for them to expect me to speak fluent Italian if I plan to live here for an extended period of time. What I don’t understand is when I go to an apartment two times to see it and meet the residents and THEN they tell me that they don’t want a non-Italian speaker when I follow up the next day because they didn’t call me as promised. Why waste my time as well as their own time? Or what about the girl who said there was no way I could come and look at the room before Saturday, and then on Friday marked the room as “sold.” When I asked her about it, she ignored me before saying she actually let some people come before the Saturday that she swore was the earliest I could see it. That’s happened a few times.
I’m sure if I had a more flexible budget, this would be less of a problem. Money talks, and money makes life a whole lot easier whether anyone wants to admit it or not. But I don’t have or make much money, and so today I’ll go to another apartment and scour the multitude of websites that advertise rooms to rent in Rome. Maybe today I’ll find something. At least I’m in Rome. And what luck or what a blessing that is.