So it’s been a while since I’ve been blogging, and even longer since I last logged into my website. I found several posts in my drafts that I hadn’t even posted. Why? Who knows, maybe they are unfinished, I went ahead and just published them, unfinished or not.
Like I said, its been a while, almost a year and a half! Since then I’ve been to Mexico twice, Australia, New Zealand, several places around the US, and have plans to go to Colombia and move to Europe! I graduated college and have been working on my spanish… so lot’s has been happening!
Part of my reason for not posting is because I was lazy, but also I was having trouble updating my themes and updating photos on non-blog part of my website. So I stopped. But now I’m back and better than ever! I have posts that I wrote on my phone that I plan to post (unfinished or not), I want to write about my past experiences, my experience in getting an Irish Working Holiday Visa, my journey with spanish, etc etc.
I’ve complained about Italy quite a bit, and right now I’m going to come clean and share one of my rants. Don’t take it personally, as it was written in a moment of anger. Maybe you’ll relate to it, but I’m sharing to show my real experiences. Despite all my problems encountered by Italians, I think I would come back to Italy, although this time I’ll be more prepared.
If you’ve ever wondered why I think Italians are absolute nightmares, here is how I feel about it. Snow week is a great example because it was run by Italians and was pretty disorganized.
The email says the bus leaves at 5:20pm, but suggests you get there by 5pm so they can load all the stuff. The bus doesn’t arrive til 5:15. Loading doesn’t begin til 5:25. You can’t get on the bus until 5:40. It’s an organized mess trying to give everyone their envelope. The bus finally leaves at 6:30pm. Yeah There is no bathroom on the bus. The door that you think is a bathroom is locked and the sign is scratched out. It’s probably he bathroom, but the driver doesn’t want to clean it so he locks it. Not the first time that has happened.
We finally get to the place. It’s late. Check-in IS a nightmare as the organizers barely speak English. Typical. Host an event for internationals and only speak Italian. We learn that we need everyone’s ID’s. We get that. Then we learn that there is a deposit. No one knows how much. We finally find out. We gather the money. Then they tell us there is also a tourist tax. We pay for it with intent to get the money back from our fellow flatmates. Finally checked in.
Next day. We try to find information. No snow week person knows anything and can barely speak English or tell us what is going on. The front desk is talking to us and as they are talking they shut the window. A minute later one of them comes around and refers us to someone else.
The way back is the same, takes forever to get going on the road. It’s not just this though, my whole time in Italy has been frustrating. Characterized by people who really don’t care. All Italians care about is leisure, which is good in moderation, but all the time, really?
Things Italians are good at:
Blocking doors and sidewalks
I hear the coffee is real good, but as someone who cannot properly digest coffee….. it is of no use to me.
Customer service and satisfaction do not exist. People hardly ever seen happy about working. They all seem to hate their jobs or just not care. Some of my professors seem like to like teaching, and a couple of baristas don’t seem to mind, but the checkers at the grocery store, bus drivers, and associates at the phone store just don’t care. Do they want your business? I guess (read it again, but now with an eye-roll and you’ll get what it’s like.)
I’ve written about this topic before, but it’s frustrating. You have to leave at least 10 minutes early because I promise you there will be something that delays your trip. The more transfers you have to make, the earlier you have to leave. Always check your change, they’ll try to short you, especially since you’re foreign.
Did your phone provider charge you for something unfairly? Don’t expect to get that money back. They’ll just shrug and pretend not to speak English or pass you off to their associate. For me, they called customer service until they found an English representative. She wasn’t too helpful either.
It’s also frustrating because in all my classes they talk about customer satisfaction and delight, none of which Italy has. Sure if you buy expensive stuff of course they’ll provide you with top-notch stuff. But if you’re buying day-to-day needs or services, don’t expect much.
Also “international nights” ALWAYS are half Italian. Any event listed as international seemingly has very few internationals at it and mostly just Italians trying to meet internationals. Like I don’t come to those to meet Italians???? Italian men are especially annoying. They expect so much from you, and expect you’ll be smitten immediately. Newsflash: Italians are not very attractive. Everyone, men included, has severe resting bitch face. They hardly smile, so when they do it’s a bit shocking. Still doesn’t help make them anymore attractive. Seriously though, Italians are ugly and not sexy whatsoever. More so just creepy.
When I first came to Europe, language was very daunting. I wasn’t very motivated to learn about a language and it kind of scared me. I started in countries with languages and letters somewhat foreign to what my typical 26 alphabet is. Danish, German, and Dutch. I didn’t try to learn them that well, and did my best to get around then.
In Germany I met a guy from the Austin (yes Texas) area who was taking a class on German. I was fascinated, but I doubted that I would remember, understand, or even care about it. Now I’m in Slovenia, another country with a few extra strange letters, and I can see the similarities and differences between languages. Their š is a lot similar to the “sci” sound in Italian (although it is actually “shu”). Their words like “pizzeria” are the same, but just with an added “j” making the “yuh” sound (pizzarjia).
France was when language first started making sense, as I took 6 weeks in middle school. It is also similar to Spanish (somewhat), which I studied in high school. French is really hard with the pronunciations, so I didn’t get very far in practicing.
In Spain things started to get better, all my Spanish came rushing back and I don’t remember having learned as much as I actually knew.
Coming to Italy I knew a few things and was prepared and motivated to learn the language. It’s been hard, but I keep pushing myself. The more I push myself to learn another language, the more my interest in other languages perks up. It’s not just the language itself that fascinates me, but the way that the country thinks.
I think when I go home to Texas, I am going to give spanish another try. In two months I have learned more italian than spanish in the 4 years I studied it. If I can push myself to learn spanish like I have italian, I know I can do so much more and put it to such good use.
After having been on the move for a solid 2 months I am very happy to have finally unpacked my big bag for one last time. I nearly teared up putting my toothbrush in the cup by the sink. I smoothed out my clothing and hung it up for the first time in months and smiled at the arrangement. I sat in bed and looked at the White wall next to me, wondering what it soon will become. These past two months were hard, but I learned so much about myself, the world, and life.
I am a very independent person. I don’t think every person has the capability to travel two months all alone (into the unknown). I thought I was the right person in the beginning, but during my trip I doubted that. I felt helpless, alone, scared, and even bored. By the end though I can look in the mirror and see myself as a different person; a stronger and smarter person. I am much better at adaptation now. Culture shock got easier and easier to deal with in each city I visited. I was able to figure out the basics of the city so I could quickly get around, find food, learn about the culture, and meet others.
The world is so much bigger than I ever thought. Of course I knew it was big, but there is so much more to the world than you can read about online or hear about from a friend. I’ve learned about new ways of life; new ways of speaking and communicating. I’ve seen and learned about all the history I had to learn back in high school from a new perspective. I can see firsthand how the world wars affected people, the cities, and how the city is shaped. I didn’t know the Berlin Wall was put up in one night; I didn’t understand that Berlin was in east Germany but allowed to be split. That is just one of the many things I learned and experienced. All throughout Europe i look at these wonders and ask myself, “how did these survive the bombings?”
I’ve learned that the only person you can truly rely on is yourself. You have to be careful who you trust, but you also have to be willing to take some risks. When you start to meet a lot of people, you get better and better at reading each one. It gets easier to quickly decide if that person is trustworthy, if that person is a good person to be friends with, etc etc. I had to use this judgement when i was Couchsurfing. A lot of people are impressed when I tell them I confidently stayed with strangers. Even through the web I figured out a way to read them and figure out if they were trustworthy. I used previous reviews, I judged their ability to speak English (it’s hard to trust someone who is hard to understand), I judged them through the conversation we had, and then I could figure out if they were. Everyone I stayed with was absolutely wonderful!
The unpopular opinion: Sometimes you have to rely on stereotypes. You can’t always risk getting to know a specific person before judging them. Sometimes you have to take their culture, their dress, and their first impressions into account, especially if there is no one there to say, “hey don’t worry about them, they are nice.”
In regards to life, you really learn how to use your time wisely. It was difficult to get up each day, but I pushed myself to at least make the day worth it. Sure I had a few days where I barely did anything, but as a human you NEED time to do nothing and let yourself rest. I learned to value my time (and my money), but not let myself stress out. I had two mottos:
“Tomorrow is a new day.”
“It’s a sunk cost, so oh well.”
Telling myself these two sentences helped keep me from not getting too stressed, and to stay positive.
In the end I am happy I went alone. I remember crying and telling myself going alone was a bad idea, that I would never wish this upon anyone, that I would never travel alone again. Looking back, I’m glad I did it. I became stronger and had the experience of a lifetime. I don’t think I would want to do another big trip alone though. I found while overall I liked going alone and getting to meet people and do new things with them, just constantly longed for a buddy. It was hard making all the decisions on my own; going out by myself sometimes; going to the aquarium all by myself.
I encourage others to try a trip alone, or at maximum one other person. Western Europe is pretty safe, you just have to be alert, play it smart, and don’t venture into the rough areas. Don’t be like the girl from Taken, inviting a stranger into her empty house. Hostels are typically safe. Check out Europes Famous Hostels if you want a really good and social hostel experience. They are a little pricier, but are always nice and really fun! Happy travels!
I’m a rather anxious person, I tend to overthink things, which causes me to get nervous, and then start to doubt. As with all things, I’m nervous and skeptical. I’ll be studying on exchange at Bocconi University (Universita Commerciale Luigi Bocconi) for the next 4 months, so I better adjust the best I can.
The first week of school only consists of an Italian class and orientation activities. Italian class is boring, I’ve learn most of it through the Memrise app already (which I highly suggest if you are going abroad). The basics of a language are always boring, especially if you already are familiar with a Romance language.
Milan, Italy is my new home for the next 4 months. I’m hoping that I grow to like this city and my first experiences don’t reflect the rest of my adventure.
I, along with three other girls from The University of Texas, are studying abroad here at Bocconi. We got two airbnb’s to stay in before we move into our apartment. The first night it was me, my boyfriend, and one of the girls who shared a tiny little apt. It had no hot water, no air conditioning, and no wifi. It was missing everything that millennials need. It was only one night and we said to ourselves, “oh it’ll get better.” Well no it didn’t.
Let’s get one thing straight. What I’m doing is not glamorous. It’s not easy. It’s not like I’m relaxing and enjoying the culture 24/7. No. It’s rough. I can feel myself struggle. I cry. I breakdown. I worry.
I feel as a lot of travel blogs and a lot of people portray traveling around the world as this really glamorous and amazing thing to do. The social media facade shows that everything is amazing and perfect; you’re having fun with all your new best friends, you’re drinking on the beach, etc. One blog in particular irks me the most, I won’t say names but it just feels so fake and it’s one of the bigger ones out there!
Today is a particularly rough day. I switched hostels to one down in Noordwijk yesterday. It’s a small beach town between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Apparently it’s one of the best beaches in the Netherlands.
I’m having a rough time because I barely was able to sleep last night, which makes me moody. The guy below me was coughing up a lung and would not shut up. I played music pretty loudly in my ears to drain out the noise, because even earplugs did not help. Plus the beds are not very sturdy and they shake a lot. I’m in the top bunk and there’s not guard rail, a little bit scary as I’m cuddling the wall.
It is past 5 and I have only eaten breakfast today. I’m at a restaurant on Schutterbahn street and ordered a spaghetti carbonara. It feels like an Italian restaurant, but there are German flags everywhere. I walked down this street a while before I settled on something that looked good. English is not as prominent here as the menus were all in German, but the staff still speak English.
My food just arrived. It only took about 5 minutes. Let’s see how good it is. It’s so hot I can’t even put the spaghetti in my mouth.
I finally figured out the name of this place “Il Camino.” It’s Italian judging from the use of “il.”
The more I eat this, the worse it starts to taste. I’m in desperate need of some ice cream.
I’m beginning to get bored of being alone. It’s not my style. I like to surround myself with people and talk and laugh and smile and enjoy my time. I find that things aren’t as fun when you don’t have someone to share them with. I also find myself reflecting on people and friendships a lot more. I’m upset with having a hard time talking to people here! It is so hard to communicate with this huge barrier. I’m upset that so many people who I thought were my friends, could so easily forget me, or fail to support me in even the tiny ways. I’m upset that my favorite people are all so far away. I munch my food alone, in silence, and in slight agony (it’s not getting any tastier but I’m so hungry).
I got ice cream later, definitely made me feel better. Plus it only cost me 1,20 Euros.