Brussels is Calling!

Ciao a tutti,

So, I don’t know if you read my last blog, but for those that didn’t I was influenced about my favorite thing, travelling and I talked about my ideal destinations for 2020.

The very first one was Brussels, in Belgium and to be sincere I told that it wasn’t ideal and I booked this trip because it was cheap. I can honestly tell, I was wrong!

 

 

First things first this trip was really quick. I landed in Brussels Saturday at 7.30 o’clock and I flew back Monday at 7.00. It was from the start a small and economic trip. I also had the luck to find a cheap hostel, but really nice in the center of the city.

To do a good presentation of the trip, I have to start from my co-travelers, which were two friends of mine from Spain. We started all together our trip from Faenza to Brussels Saturday afternoon, first using the train and then the bus to arrive to Bologna airport. From there a beautiful, sunny Saturday of this February we took the plain to go to the less sunny and extremely windy Brussels. We have seen in the Internet that the weather wouldn’t be by our side, but we didn’t expect that.

Our first night, Saturday night we didn’t had the chance to do much. We arrived in the hostel at 11.00 o’clock this night and we were also a bit tired. We went for a walk around the block to grab a bite and we ended up to grad a couple of beers, too. For those that they don’t have a clear idea about Belgium, I have to say that is famous for the beer, the waffles and the french fries -which as I learned in a free tour were not French at all but Belgian and they named them French the American Soldiers of World War 2 that hearing the Belgian people talking French and eating the fries, they thought that they are French. Until this day, the name remains ”french fries” and the people of Belgium are trying really hard to change it to ”fries”. So, if you want to help them, just start to call them ”fries” and spreed the word.

 

 

The next day we had a full plan of visiting the city center and see all the sights. What we didn’t knew was that in Brussels this day, they had an ”orange alarm”, that means that the weather was really bad and the wind so strong and the most of the people were actually afraid of going out of their houses. And the strangle was real! We fought with the wind, we got wet from the rain and we were cold the whole time, but we saw it all! We walked the center alone and then we booked a free walking tour; we tried the traditional street waffles and the fries that are double fried to they can be crispy outside and soft inside; and last but not least we drunk different beers that is a MUST once you go to Belgium.

Saturday went by smoothly even though the weather was extremely bad and the wind tried to hit me in the walls several times. As the night was coming one of my friends had to go, return to the airport, because she had to catch an early flight and there wasn’t a midnight bus. So, she did, but the weather played a tricky game with us again. Of course, the wind couldn’t stop early on Monday morning and the fight of my friend got canceled twice. She had to spent more that 12 hours in the airport waiting her flight back home.

 

 

On the other side, me and my other friend had one more day to spent in Brussels and we took this chance to visit the famous European Parliament. The Parliament is placed in a centered quarter and it was really easy to find it. I wasn’t impressed from the building actually; I expected it bigger and nicer. Except that, I enjoyed the sights of it. There is a place that called ”Parlamentarium” that is helping you to get more information about the European Union, its formation and history and also there is a European History Museum. Unfortunately, I had only the time to visit the ”Parlamentarium”, it was interesting and gain a lot of new information.

After these two days of moving around, watching and tasting new things, we had to return. We took our flight at 7.00 o’clock and thankfully we didn’t had a problem with the wind that was continuing being strong. We landed in Bologna around 8.30 o’clock only to discover that the wind followed me here. But, I will survive….

P.S: I also got tested for Corona Virus when I landed in Bologna. That thing is becoming bigger and bigger, right?

That’s it for today…

Danai, Greece

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Appuntamenti Internazionali… Sempre vanno la pena!

Ciao a tutti per ancora una volta,

Sono io, Danai, la volontaria greca a Faenza. I hope you didn’t forgot about me…

So for another time I am here to tell you everything about my life in Italy, my EVS experience and all the interesting things that happened through this week.

Unfortunately, this past weeks I couldn’t live in Faenza, I had to go back in Greece and write some remaining university exams, that I’ m really hoping to pass and GRADUATE THIS YEAR. All this situation with back and forward travels between Greece and Italy made me really tired and combining the study that I had to do, I can truly say that after a while I was begging to return to my everyday life in Faenza and be in a chill mood for a while without having so many things to do.

Stavros Niarxos Foundation, Athens, Greece

Except all these difficulties and all the studying, I had a great time in Greece, because a friend of mine came to visit me in Athens. But to talk to you about this I have to do first a small introduction.

As everybody knows at this point the ESC or EVS or SVE -the same thing, three different ways to tell it- is an incredible opportunity that helps you in many ways. Regarding the flexibility of work hours and environment, the chance to live abroad and the experience to learn a lot of new things, I believe that I already talked to you for some of these. One of the most important and interesting things that this SVE experience is giving you is a lot of new friends from all over Europe and in this way you can have the best intercultural experience and of course expand your multicultural view.

From the previous paragraph is easy to understand that I made a really good friend this year, thanks to ESC project that I am being a part. My friend is called Federica and she does the same project with me, but in Greece. She lives in the northern part of my country, near to my hometown and she working with another organization based in Greece. To explain you, to do a program like this you have to have a sending organization and a hosting organization. In the case of Federica and me we are sharing organizations, in sense that my sending organization is her hosting and my hosting (SE.M.I association) is her sending.

Long story sort, in some point near October we started working together for a project and also doing some language exchange classes via Skype, so I can help her communicate in Greek and she could help me improve my Italians. From this cooperation with ended up good friends but we never saw each other until now…

When I realized that I would be in Greece for two weeks this January and also inside this time I would have my birthday, I invited Federica to come and visit me in Athens. And so she did…

She came in Athens Thursday afternoon and she returned Sunday morning. It was four amazing days. I tried my best to make her see all the sights of Athens and all the cultural things. We did a long walk in the center of the city, visiting Thisio, Plaka, Monastiraki, Sintagma e Psuri -the heart of the city-.

We also eat a lot, like a lot! I wanted her to try some traditional Greek plates and we ended up eating ‘till we were dead and couldn’t move -especially the first day-. But except the things that we did in the city, we got to know each other better. Making new friends is always a thing that I enjoy and through this project I am really happy that I met a bounce of new and interesting people from all over the world. Through others you also have the chance to see yourself and your behavior and accept or change things. You can evaluate and challenge yourself. One thing is moving to a whole new country but maybe the most important thing of all is to make a social life there, without knowing anyone, between strangers, you have to find your place and make your circle. It’s difficult, it’s challenging but also it’s a huge opportunity for self improvement.

Until the next week,

Danai, Greece

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Il primo addio…

Hello from the other siiiiide (a little bit of Adele suits this sad article),

I am the Greek one, the known, the entertaining one that likes to speak about her weekends, Italian food and drinks. This blogging thing is starting to kinda like me…

My last blog was a travel blog, giving you some new information about Brisighella, a small but beautiful city of Italy, just ten minutes away from Faenza. So, I covered the travelling part and I am coming for another time to talk to you about the drama part of the everyday life of a volunteer in Faenza.

 

Brisighella

 

Well, we are doing international projects and taking this amazing opportunity that European Union is giving us. Of course, there are a lot of good things to tell about this experience, but there also some bad things and this is the main reason that I am writing this article.

Let’s start from the good parts so we can proceed to the sad and difficult parts…

One of the best things is the contact with the new culture. For me the Italian culture wasn’t so unknown. I was studying Italian Language and Literature back in Greece and I had a basic knowledge of the language, the culture and the Italian lifestyle. In this way, you might never read from me that I have a huge cultural shock or something like that. Also, as the time passes by I am realizing more and more how similar are the Italians with the Greeks. Regarding the lifestyle it is like I am still living in Greece, going out the same amount of time, be socialized and it is not a big deal if I talk with people I don’t know. The only difference is that I am speaking Italian.

Another really interesting fact is the job that I am doing here. It is not a regular work, you don’t feel like you are having a boss upon your head that anytime can start screaming at you. Also, it is pretty cool the fact that as a volunteer there are a lot of things that you can do. I mean, I am a volunteer, if help is needed and I can contribute, I will be there. In this way, the activities that I am choosing are a lot and different also. I am really enjoying this variety of occupations.

But, sadly I have to move one to share with you a really difficult part of the ESC life and in general of the life living away from your home. There are times that you are feeling home-sick and that’s logical. Your friends and your family are away, you are talking with them on phone or Skype but there aren’t next to you when you need a hug. Especially the first days of the arrival in a new country, a new city and society you have this feeling all the time. You are feeling alone…

 

 

Here comes the EVS opportunity to shine up your day and put some other volunteers beside you to share this experience and of course these emotions. When you are with people, even unknown at the moment, that you are sharing all these new things; it could make you feel more safe and loved and can help you to overcome a little bit your loneliness.

So, one of these guys, next to my side, sleeping in the next room of mine and sharing the everyday life in work and in the apartment, was Raquel. She was a Spanish, crazy and really interesting girl that we lived together for 2 and a half months. We became friends from the first moment -but no, to be sincere, we needed about a week to be sure-. We used to study together but in the middle of studying we started talking and stopping at midnight. Raquel was the reason that I put apart my fear and stress to talk in Italian and I actually started communicate with the locals. She, Greta -our other flatmate that I am promising that I will write something about her, too- and me had a lot of fun, a bunch of amazing moments and an extraordinary everyday life.

 

 

But, in conclusion, and of course the reason that I said that this is one bad and sad parts of the international volunteering experience, the project of Raquel finished and she had to return to Spain. We had a party, an after party and a tearful goodbye session. I still can’t realize that she is gone and I am expecting her to return for a trip in another city of Italy or something like that. In any case, I hate goodbyes, I am really bad at those…

Goodbye -the irony-,

Danai, Greece

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A due passi da Faenza…

Ciao a tutti,

I am here almost two weeks now, let’s start talking a little bit in italian, too! The ESC life goes on with more and more activities every week, new things to learn, new adventures to live and new people – especially Italians- to meet.

The office hours passing fast while dealing with European Exchange Projects – at least I am trying- and social media work. The italian language is becoming a friend of mine step by step and regarding my social life, we made a pretty good start with the other volunteers here. But, as good as it can be the everyday life, you always waiting and counting the days – the hours, the minutes- for the weekend!

I made a pretty good deal with myself for this year when they anounced me that I am accepted for this European Union opportunity. I decided to travel a lot this year. Don’t get me wroght, I also want to live in an italian lifestyle and get to know this small city that I am currently living, Faenza, but it is also a pretty good opportunity to travel around the courty every weekend. So, this weekend I made my first, small step and I visited Bologna!

Private moments with my friend in Bologna

I got into the traveler mind from Friday when my friend from Florence visited me in Faenza. After two – ok, maybe three- Spritzs as an aperitivo – I really like this italian habit- we decided to visit Bologna for one day. The next day, Saturday, me, my friend and other two volunteers as travel buddies, we woke up and took the train to Bologna. Ok, I knew it was really close to Faenza, but seriously it is just 30 minutes away and with the train you have to pay only 5 euros to go – that’s perfect because I don’t have money-. Almost at 11.00 we arrived in Bologna and start moving around these beautiful streets, visiting the local market and of course having breakfast as real Italians in the most lovely coffee shop in town. It was a weekend, so Bologna was full of people in the streets, shopping, drinking their coffees fast, having fun and enjoying their free time.

We moved as fast as we could to visit all the right places in only a day. We went to the center of the city, where the market is – of course I did a little bit of shopping and it’s one of the reasons that now I don’t have money for food-, but except the market you can see there the Two Towers, the Piazza Maggiore, the Cathedral and a lot of bars, restaurants and coffeeshops. The time passed as fast as the water flows and we got hungry, but who could expect that the weekend in Bologna it’s pretty hard to eat for lunch! All the places that we went at almost 1.00 o’ clock was full or had no more food and after 2.30 o’ clock they started telling us that they were close until the afternoon. We ended up eating at 5.00 o’clock but at least we tried the official spaghetti alla bolognese.

Of course, I couldn’t leave this full of people, full of life and amazing city without having an aperitivo first -yes, officially it’s my habit, too-. For another time, Bologna left me speakless and I am seriously in love with this city… So, after a little walking around the small streets of the center, we found a very, very small place, like a hole but full of people, in which bar you can drink a Spritz or a Campari with inly 2,5 euros. Take my money and give me clothes and Spritzs, SERIOUSLY! I was in heaven until we reallized that we have to go back to Faenza and of course we were late. As an authentic Greek one this time, I showed to my travel buddies how you can catch a train that leaves in 10 minutes and you are 15 minutes away and you don’t have a ticket, too. It’s pretty easy, you run, you run like hell, maybe the cars will hit you but seriously now, you have to run people!

That’s all folks! Just me, trying to leave me greek mark in Italy!

Ci vediamo…

Danai, Greece

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