A Dutch Travel Diary #4

10 am 7.19.15

I visited the van Gogh Museum yesterday. It has been beautiful and sad, looking right into van Gogh's self-portrait's eyes tears arrived. But I didn't let them go. You are not allowed to take photos inside, and I was by myself anyway, so I took a couple of reflection selfies outside, at the entrance and on the stairs. A proof that I've existed here too.
Walking back towards the city center, I felt a little as Alice in Wonderland herself, when I encountered an almost invisible, tiny dirt road, clutched between rows of tall buildings, and two old men playing quite big chess. Obviously I didn't understand a word of what they were saying, but from the tone and the chuckles of the two lines-up that were supporting each of them, it was pretty clear that they were making fun of their opponent.
I have to leave the hostel in about an hour. And then my Utrecht Summer School experience will start.


A Dutch Travel Diary #3

2 am 7.18.15

Fallen asleep seems pretty impossible tonight. So I think about all the people I spoke with in the last couple of days. I expected this first part of the travel to be quite lonely, and in fact it was, but I spoke more than my predictions. There were the two Dutch girls sitting beside me on the plain, flying back home after a holiday in Italy, blond hair, long legs, cappuccino-tanned skin. There was the guy who kept telling me "I know Spanish, I know Spanish pretty welL", as if Italian and Spanish were the same. the one who asked me, in Dutch, if the next stop was the train station's one, and when I replied, in my bad bad Dutch, I don't know, started talking very just until he realized, through the terrified look in my eyes I guess, that I don't speak Dutch, few simple words a part. The Singaporean woman in the hostel, who came with her daughter who is gonna study here for the summer and had never left alone her country before. And the old man in Amsterdam who stopped in the middle of the river of people to ask if I was lost. In fact I was, but that's ok I told him, that's how I like it. Then he wanted to know where I am from and when I said Italy "you know Gigliola Cinquetti? She won the Eurovision." Of course, with Non ho l'età. "Non ho l'età, non ho l'età..." he sung walking away.



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 Forlì, 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.