A Dutch Travel Diary #2

3:00 pm 7.17.15
The rest of the travel went well and once in Utrecht I easily found the hostel. The Strowis Hostel is really cute. It is in a good position, clean and very Dutch-ish (for what I can know about anything Dutch, being this my first time in the country). I'm sleeping at the top of a bunk bed, which I don't like, and the staircase is insane, narrow and steep, but one can leave the suitcase in the locker room downstair. In my room there is a woman from Singapore who came all the way to the Netherlands to accompany her daughter who is gonna study at the Summer School for six weeks. There is also a Chinese girl, but I haven't seen her yet. Last night I was very tired for traveling 10 hours and she arrived pretty late. And when I left this morning she was still sleeping. 

Now I am in Amsterdam. I had great, ambitious plans for the day. Instead, I just let myself wondering around the city, feeling part of it as if I was remembering something from a previous life instead of discovering it for the very first time. 
I walked around for hours and I am now waiting for the visit to the Van Gogh Museum, for which I already bought the ticket. There are people posing for selfies, dogs happy to splash in the cold water and two girls, a teenager and her younger sister, having a real swim in the fountain in front of the I AMsterdam sign. This may be not the real city, this may be just tourist-town, and I am a tourist too, but I am part of the whole picture. At least for a day. 

A Dutch Travel Diary #1

aka There are so many photos you can take from a window.

7.16.15 - 17.30
Few minutes and I'll by flying above the Netherlands. Towards Eindhoven. But I won't stay there long, my finally destination is Utrecht. 

In the last couple of days I has not been that thrill about the idea of this travel. And it's not the usual laziness before the departure, not exclusively at least. When I applied for the course at the Utrecht Summer School, months ago, I was still hoping to go there to study for my master's degree next year. Instead, the news arrived and I will stay in Italy, in Bologna, and now when I think at the 12 days head of me, I feel a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.
But I prepared my luggage anyway, stuffed my Kanken with everything I could need (MacBook, Kindle, notebook and pen, a jumper 'cause on flights the air conditions is always too cold) and I'm now here. On a thick blanket of clouds so white that almost blinds me.

Sitting at my side there are two Dutch girls. The most stereotypical Dutch girls you can imagine. Blond hair, long legs, capuccino-tanned skin after what must have been an holiday spent at the beach. Not that I actually talked with them. I am not brave enough to start talking randomly at people, and apparently my way of being does not encourage them to start talking to me either. I like to be by myself, even if this is the first time I travel alone in a place I've never been before. But loneliness can become easily a burden. The more time I spend on my own the harder getting in touch with the other is. It's like I somehow forget how to comunicate and so I have to re-learn the basic knowledge of human interaction from the start.
And beside, when I walk around alone I get more and more conscious about myself. I can feel everybody eyes on me, even if probably it's not at all true. All I can think about is that I would die to see myself from the outside. To see how the cloths are moving with my body, if the backpack makes me look like a child, if the expression on my face shouts Stay away from me.

Meantime, Dutch people drink beers and an un-inviting smell of sandwiches fills the air of the plane. Italians like to clap at the landing. Everyone has its things, I guess.

Don't be miserable

Ok, I neglected this blog in the past weeks, but I have a good reason. No, really, let me explain.

In March I have been accepted to the Master’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies I applied for months ago, but only in the last weeks they told me in which universities between those linked to the program I’m going to study, one for the first year and one for the second. And the announcement… well… it didn’t make me happy at all.

I’ve been assigned to Bologna. And saying that it has been a disappointment would be an understatement. First of all, I really wanted to go to Utrecht, in the Netherlands, ‘cause it has the subjects I want to study, while in Bologna half of the classes are about literature. I have a degree in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs, and even if I am a bookworm since before I knew how to read (I will tell you this story, sooner or later), literature it’s not what I would do at university. 
But most of all, if I wanted to stay in Italy, if I wanted to stay in the same university I just graduated from (at the branch of Forl√¨, but same Alma Mater), I would have just applied here. Instead, I need to go abroad. I need a change, I need to know if I can do it, if what I’ve dreamed all my life can be possible. I need to walk on streets where people do not speak my language and where there are new traditions and holidays to learn and where I can prove myself. 

When I read the email I let myself be angry and sad and ok I may have cried a little. But disappointment on the side, a couple of hours later I was already looking for a room in Bologna and I’m preparing for this. I try to stay positive: next year I’m going to Hull, in the UK, where I’ll probably stay to prepare my thesis, and in ten days I’ll fly to Utrecht for a summer course. And, more important, I try to stay positive because I don’t want to move to Bologna and be miserable for a year ‘cause I don’t want to be there. Don’t be miserable! I should engrave this somewhere and make it my new motto!

Long story short, I’ll soon be moving to Bologna and next year it’s gonna be the UK and in the mid time I’ll flood you with photos of arcades and towers alleys and old building with ruined varnish and masterful details.

Wish me luck for the house-hunting!

Though no water flows here, the memory stays

Fragments of letters. 5

It had been years since I slept in my mother’s bedroom. My english housemate of last year, Amey, came visit for a few days. She arrived last Tuesday and left yesterday. She slept a lot and we didn’t do much, but she said she enjoyed her time here. She wanted to swim and even if the weather has not be beautiful we managed a couple of hours at the beach. When I walked bare feet on the little rocks that we have instead of sand, when I let the cold water touch me, I tried to remember the last time I entered the sea, but I couldn’t.
I gave Amey my bedroom so I slept with my mother. And Frida. I have a lot of memories of that bed. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I wonder if my mother could hear the noises in my head.

And that’s pretty much it. I don’t have much else to say. I keep waiting for an email that it’s doesn’t came and the days are passing without me noticing at all. 
I am reading a lot and I bought a ticket for a Belle and Sebastian concert in Ancona near here. I’ll go by myself.

The wind is giving me pleasing goosebumps and the golden light of the sunset is the prettiest thing I've seen in quite some time. I drive around and keep imagining you visiting.

Caroline Calloway

Binge-watching is something I'm really good at. Ask my last nights. And no, I'm not talking exclusively about Orange is the new black (I need some time to process it, as usual).
This Monday I want to talk you about the Instagram Blog that few evenings ago didn't let me go to sleep. I swear. It told me: You cannot stop reading until you reach the end.
Maybe you have eared of Caroline Calloway and her Instagram. Set a year in the past, Caroline does not only shows us photos of her adventures in Cambridge, where she moved from New York to study Art History, but she is also writing her own honest and hilarious memoir.
Here the first photos of the story, so that you can see with your own eyes how it is. It will be totally worth it, I promise.

Yes, Instagram. That’s right. Raise your hand if you have ever taken a selfie of yourself crying. On a plane. With strangers. What’s that you say? Just me? Well I’m proud and a little jealous because this? This right here? THIS IS A TERRIBLE AND CRAZY THING TO DO. Professional travel blogger tip Number 1: Don’t be the crazy selfie-girl that can’t stop weeping. Sure it may feel like the only responsible and respectful way to break up in this day and age. But that’s because you’re 22 and dumber than rocks. Actual rocks.

But maybe we need to start even farther back, Instagram, with my last day in New York and some better context for my poor life choices.

After all, no good story ever started with a selfie.

To Be Continued #adventuregrams

Our story about Cambridge begins in my turquoise New York

apartment. I had moved there after high school to take a gap year, but ended up taking three because I fell in love with the City in that over-eager, evangelical way that only immigrants can. Have you ever heard a girl from suburban Virginia telling strangers about a land of opportunity where the streets are paved with gold? Then perhaps we’ve met. And, plot twist, friends! My favorite neighborhood is where I live: The West Village. It’s where Old New York charm (cobblestones, parks) meets up-scale boutiques and low-risk bohemia (liberal art degrees, lofts). You can see where it is in the picture because it’s the only area of downtown Manhattan with trees on every block and building regulations against skyscrapers. Why am I telling you all this? Oh yes, I was talking about moving to New York and then digressed into a crazy rant. The point is, I just really love the West Village and I need you guys to love it too for the next part of the story to make sense. So can you do that for me, best friends? It shouldn’t be too hard. As Tom Wolfe once said, “One belongs to New York instantly… as much in five minutes as in five years.” To Be Continued #adventuregrams

Now that you guys have fallen in love with New York, I have just one more best-friend-favor I need to ask. It’s super strange, but you guys are pros and I know there’s nothing you can’t handle. Which is why I need you to fall in love with my ex-boyfriend, Josh.

Allow me to explain.

You see, in order to make goodbyes resonant and engaging, stories need a shit ton of build-up. Just take the first 205 minutes of Titanic for example. Heartwarming mini-stories, character-defining dialogue, Leonardo DiCaprio’s face—the kind of stuff my 7th grade English teacher Mr. Kay called ‘rising action’ and gave me detention for calling ‘narrative foreplay.’ But you and I, Instagram? We’re busy people. We fancy. We don’t have that kind of time or Leonardo DiCaprio’s face. (Damn you Toni Garnn!) And so I need you to do me a solid, Instagram, and just fall in love with my ex-boyfriend, OKEEYYY? Because the only alternative is trying to re-cap every single quotidian detail of our year-long relationship and nobody—not a best friend like you—wants that. So here’s the deal, guys. You love Josh; Josh loves you; and I’m totally okay with it in a weird, inappropriate, incestuous way. Here’re some seasonal feet photos to put you in the mood. I think we’re finally ready to begin our story about Cambridge.

To Be Continued #adventuregrams

Can I say to be a polyglot?

A little while ago I had an illumination. But before, a step back.

Having always dreamt to travel around the world, and owning my parents a bakery/bar/ice-cream parlor in a highly touristic place so that holidays were out of the picture, since I can remember I’ve always been envy of those kids who, having lived abroad or having parents from other countries, were able to talk more than only Italian. I was good at school, but learning languages have never been a talent of mine and my inadequacy in carry a conversation embarrassed me for a long time.
It has been the obsession for films and tv shows to push me to listen English on a daily basis. So between the end of high school and the first months of university I became accustomed to sub-titles and to read books in English that I had already read in Italian. Until the greediness grew and grew and I could not wait anymore for subtitles and translations. Films, shows, books, and blogs, they all taught me more than all those years in school did. English is such a part of my daily life now that I speak to myself in English all the time and often I can remember in which language I read/listen something. 

Remember the illumination? Well, I’ve always put myself down because I wasn’t good as others were. But you know what? Fuck off! My English may not be perfect and I have no idea of how my accent sounds because I refuse to listen registrations of my voice, but I wrote this blog for more than four years, I read books and watch things in their original version and almost never have problem understanding them. I know English.
Plus, I taught myself French well enough to pass two university exams (but it is still pretty bad, believe me) and I’m studying Dutch on my own. 
If you think that it is not such a big deal, 1. you are from an English speaking country and always expect people to understand you or 2. you are from a country were most of the population speaks English, which is not my case. Good old Italy.

So fuck you, past me, who was always such a harsh critic of herself. You are exactly where you dreamt to be as a kid. Enjoy it.