EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically. The Parliament represents the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. The President of the European Parliament (Parliament’s speaker) is David Sassoli (elected in July 2019).

European Parliament in Strasbourg

The Committees of the European Parliament

In order to do the preparatory work for Parliament’s plenary sittings, the Members are divided up among a number of specialised standing committees. There are 20 parliamentary committees that meet once or twice a month in Brussels and whose debates are held in public.

Languages, translation and interpretation

Speakers in the European Parliament are entitled to speak in any of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. With twenty-four languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world. Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician.

Plenary

Plenary sittings are chaired by the President of the European Parliament. The President of the European Parliament is assisted in this task by the 14 vice-presidents, who can take over the chair. The President opens the sitting, sometimes with a tribute or a speech on a current topic. Parliament is in fact constantly concerned to respond to the latest developments in any major issue and has no hesitation in changing its agenda in order to call on the Union to act. The President’s influence can be decisive in this respect.

European Parliament 2019

References

About Parliament. European Parliament, web: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en (page visited on 09/12/2019)

Wikipedia, European Parliament, web: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament (page visited on 09/12/2019)

Brisighella sei bella!

Ciao carissimi lettori,

We are here to entertain you for another time! Well, let’s see want is going on this week. We don’t have a lot of changes, the everyday life goes on pretty smoothly and I am working in different things.

As you can easily understand in this point, I am usually talking about my weekends so I can describe better the life in Faenza. The weekends I am going out, I am travelling and actually enjoying some alone time.

Something like that happened this weekend, too. Friday night we had our traditional dinner with pizza and wine, as we do every Friday. Thankfully, we found a cheep pizza place and also we don’t have preferences in our wine, so we don’t spent a lot of money every time. The difference of the past Friday with the previous ones is that finally I convinced the others to go and dance a little bit. So we did! Faenza is small -fact that I am repeating in every blog- but it has things to do and places to go out and also has a place that you can go and dance until the morning. After some hours, at 4.00 o’clock in the morning we returned home with my Lithuanian and blond friend to sleep until the next evening -because is Saturday and I don’t care if I am waking up late.

Saturday wasn’t a lot fun and it was certainly chill. I had a breakfast with my roommate and then with chilled all day in the apartment watching Netflix and eating. It is not ”party hard” kind of weekend, but I was really needed to stay in my warm couch all day and do nothing. I love myself, I have to respect its needs.

Sunday on the other hand was pretty interesting. We planned a small visit to Brisighella, a picturesque, tiny city near by. We spent only 10 minutes in the train and we were there, somewhere between 21th Century and Medieval Times.

Brisighella has the tittle of the most beautiful small city in Italy and I can’t give them wrong. Within 5 minutes walk from the station we were in the city center, which was full of little shops and restaurants. It is easy to notice from the first minute in this city the beautiful towers around its hills. Using the stairs we got to one of them and after 10 minutes we got to the highest point. The view from up there is certainly breathtaking and combined with the warm and nude colors of Autumn it was one of the best things I saw lately.

After a small walk upon the hills and enjoying the view, we decided to take a break and something traditional. As you may know one of the traditional dishes of Emilia Romagna is the ”piadina”. It is a kind of wrap, but a different one depending the area, stuffed with whatever you want. It is delicious, I love it, I ate it in 5 minutes.

So, that was it for today, I don’t have anything else to describe you.

Until the next time, have fun and eat italian food..

Danai, Greece

European Union: Agriculture

Vibrant rural areas and quality agricultural products

World food production needs to double by 2050 to cater for population growth and evolving food habits. It faces the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, soil and water quality, and the demands of the global marketplace.

EU farm policy has changed considerably in recent decades to help farmers face these challenges and respond to peoples’ changing attitudes and expectations. EU agricultural policy covers a wide range of areas, including food quality, traceability, trade and promotion of EU farm products. The EU financially supports its farmers and encourages sustainable and eco-friendly practices, while also investing in the development of rural areas.

EU institutions collaborate on food and farming policy-making, implementing, monitoring and evaluating it. National and local authorities implement the laws agreed at EU level. Through the EU budget, funds are made available to member states in accordance to rules set at EU level. The EU also monitors how laws are applied, how effective they are, and coordinates amendments.

Agriculture and food related industries and services provide over 44 million jobs in the EU, including regular work for 20 million people within the agricultural sector itself. Thanks to its varied climate, fertile soil, the technical skills of its farmers and the quality of its products, the EU is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products.

Agriculture and rural development in EU: Rural development 2014-2020

The EU’s rural development policy helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Frequently called “the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it complements the system of direct payments to farmers and measures to manage agricultural markets (the so-called “first pillar”).

There are 118 different rural development programmes (RDP) in the 28 Member States for this period, with 20 single national programmes and 8 Member States opting to have two or more (regional) programmes.

EU framework for rural development programmes

Member States and regions draw up their rural development programmes based on the needs of their territories and addressing at least four of the following six common EU priorities:

* Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas

* Enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management

* Promoting food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture

* Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry

* Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors

* Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas

Source: Official website of the European Union

Aperitivo con altri volontari…

Ciao carissimi lettori,

and continuing in English as usual…

So, here I am, the Greek volunteer, to entertain you and keep you posted for another time. The life here in the beautiful and small Faenza goes on with calm and happiness. I am really appreciating that I am working for an organization (SE.M.I association) that keeps me motivated, find all the time new things to occupy me and I am never bored.

I mean, I was used to work a lot back in Greece and there was a time last year that I was doing three different works in the same time and I managed to handle it and enjoy it in the same moment. As you could understand in the start here I was afraid that I might be bored. A job with specific working hours and not many to be sincere, in an office like a normal human being and without the necessity to run like crazy all day, all of these things made me wonder if I could managed them. I know that sounds crazy but I was used to it, to run like hell and change two jobs everyday, then come back to my apartment with my energy levels in the lowest possible point.

Likely, the situation here is not like that. Even though, I work in an office the most of the time and I have specific work hours, I am occupied the most of the time. The association finds new things for me to do everyday and I feel like they understood me from the first moment, I am an active and a little workaholic person, I am finding new activities to do all the time.

Another thing that I am, is a communicative person. I mean, I have too my personal daily limits in communication, but they are pretty high. I love communicating and meeting people for the first time. And for another time, SE.M.I didn’t let me down…

I am almost two months in Italy now and I socializing with the other volunteers that we work together and also with some Italians that I met through my activities. The things is… I wanted more. One part of the ESC experience is travelling all year, explore the new country that you are currently living. So if you combine these two you can easily understand that I want to meet volunteers for other cities in Italy. And the organization saw that need of mine, but need of other volunteers too.

Our coordinator organized an aperitivo in a city near to Faenza, Forli. Forli has a big team of volunteers and also we met other three guys from Cesena. All together, a team close to 25 people, we managed to find a table in a place a little away from the station, but really nice.

The majority of the volunteers were Spanish or at least spoke the language because they were from Ecuador or Argentina. At this point I have to note that Spanish people in Italy are sooooooo many. We have two in our team too, but in Forli there were too many. Also, you have to know that I love Spanish people. When you do programs like SVE you are dealing also with cultural gaps and differences, which is truly interesting if you are asking me, but also can create problems. To conclude, with Spanish people I feel really close and I can communicate easily, they are cool and fun in every situation, I am enjoying their company and I made already a lot of Spanish friends.

Back to the aperitivo after a small pause, it was amazing knowing all these new people from all around the world. We shared our stories, we talked about our jobs in Italy, our experiences here and of course we exchanged number so we could meet again. As the true face of a party animal, I may be in Forli this weekend to party with them to an event that they recommended me.

Pretty much that’s it for this week, I think I shared enough with you my lucky readers. I think that there is no need to highlight that the ESC experience is the best and you certainly have to try it.

Arrivederci,

Danai, Greece

LET’S TALK ABOUT LITERATURE

So this is my last text like that here and I decided to dedicate it to my one of my big passions, namely to the literature. This was also one of the reasons why I decided to study French Language and Literature in the University of Tartu. These were the best years of my life! I really enjoyed being a student. Now, after I’ve graduated, I try to continue using critical thinking while reading books, without loosing the ability to enjoy the story.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life and some novels have left a deep impression on me. So this time I’ve decided to talk about some of my favourite books and/or writers.

Firstly, one of my absolute favourite authors is Sir Terry Pratchett. I love his Discworld series (Serie del Mondo Disco). All the activities take place on a flat, circular, disc-shaped world which sits on the back of four big elephants, which in their turn stand on the carapace of a giant turtle. Some popular characters who appear in different books, are for example gods, a failed wizard and the DEATH.

I really like his writing style. Pratchett’s books are very funny and enjoyable to read, especially because he treats in a comical and satirical way real world issues and problems. You can also find references about different religions. For example the characters called The Four Horsemen of the Apocralypse are described in the last book of the New Testament (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). Also, The myth of a giant turtle/tortoise supporting the world occurs in Hindu, in Chinese and in Native American mythology.

My another favourite book from Russian literature is “The Master and Margarita” (Il maestro e Margherita) by Mikhail Bulgakov. He imagines very well the Russian/Soviet society of that time. At first sight, the text seemed too weird and confusing to me. But the more I read the more interesting it seemed. Finally I got used to the characters like the giant talking cat and the devil Woland, who had come to Moscow, and all the weird things that happen. This book has been considered as one of the best novels of the 20th century. I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it for those who haven’t done it yet.

The next book series doesn’t need a long introduction, I guess. I really like “Harry Potter by British author J. K. Rowling. In my mind, it’s absolutely amazing how she has described all the characters, all the places and all the mystical events.

A German-speaking Bohemian author who I quite like is Franz Kafka. I have read his books called “The Castle” (Il castello) and “The Trial” (Il processo). At the beginning, his writing style seemed very weird and it was very hard to understand what he wanted to say. While analysing the text a bit more closely, I found the books actually quite interesting. The main characters of both of the books have to deal with ignorance. There are events and circumstances that don’t depend on them.

In “The Trial”, the main character called Josef K. is unexpectedly arrested one morning. Nobody never explains him what he had done wrong (if he had done anything wrong at all), he only has to go to the court. Even the lawyer doesn’t seem to have any intention to help Josef K.

In “The Castle”, the main character is called simply K. He arrives to a village where he should have had a job. it’s impossible to speak to an official named Klamm. K tries to go to the castle to ask for any information, but he fails.

Another great book that I enjoyed a lot is “The picture of Dorian Gray” (Il ritratto di Dorian Gray) by Oscar Wilde. It’s a great story about double life, supernatural events that reflect the reality. In Gothic fiction, that this book also represents, the paintings have often a sinister role. In this book, Dorian Gray stays young and beautiful while the painting of him becomes more and more ugly and finally it’s so disgusting for Dorian himself that he hides it. Although “The Picture of Dorian Gray” might be a bit terrifying, I believe it’s still worth reading.

Concerning Italian literature, I really love “The Divine Comedy” (La Comedìa/Divina Commedia) by Dante Alighieri. I have read only the first part (Inferno). Other two parts include Purgatorio and Paradiso. It’s a poem where ‘sweet new style’ (Dolce Stil Novo) was used for the first time. It represents the vision of the afterlife through the medieval world-view that had been developed by the 14th century in the Western Church. In teh forst part, the main character travels with Virgil throught the underworld.

Another book from the Russian literature that I really like is “The Idiot” (L’idiota) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I should read it more attentively myself, but I still believe it’s a great book. It’s a story about social issues and norms in Russia that cause a lot of problems for the main character called Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin who has returned to his homeland from abroad and who is not able to integrate to this society any more.

As last recommendations, I decided to choose something also from the French literature. The first book, that is quite difficult to read, but that is still an amazing piece of work, is “Nausea” (La nausea) by Jean-Paul Sartre. The protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, tries to finish one of his researches, but he often feels that the world is weird and absurd that evokes him a sense of nausea. The only way how he can deal with it, is music. Sartre’s philosophical approach and existentialist concept makes it a bit difficult to read, but it’s still very interesting novel.

And the final one… I’m a huge fan of Molière, a 17th century playwright, actor and poet. Strongly influenced by italian commedia dell’arte, his comedies treat social issues in a satirical way. Although commedia dell’arte was based on improvisation, Molière’s early comedies were based on its scenarios, but with scripted dialogue and not improvised. Some of his plays I really like are: “The Imaginary Invalid” (Il malato immaginario), “Tartuffe”/“The Impostor”/“The Hypocrite” (Il Tartuffo), “The Ridiculous Précieuses”/”The Affected Ladies” (Le preziose ridicole).

A French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes has said: “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” In my mind, reading is fun, educative and a perfect leisure time activity. So I would like to invite everyone to read books and to think about what the writers have to say.

Veloce e Facile..

Ciao a tutti,

Sono io, la volontaria greca, per ancora una volta! And as always I am continuing writting in English. How are you today? I am currently feeling melancholic, because we have a moody and rainy weather here today and I am always ready to hug my ”dark side” days like that.

It’s been almost two months that I am living in Faenza and ten more to go -if I go haha-. The volunteering work goes on and my days here passing by really quick while working with the communication part of the organization, the social media and organizing international projects. I like all of the parts, that I am currently working on, and I am pretty happy about it.

Usually, I am talking to you, my lucky readers, about my weekend adventures and the trips that I am doing every time. This time, the topic of the blog is a little different. It has to do with my weekend, but not with a trip, it has to do with Faenza.

This weekend I tried to save some money and I decided not to go away from Faenza. Also, the weather was rainy and cold so I and my roommates decided to stay put, in our beautiful and pretty warm house and enjoy a weekend in the moody Faenza.

Friday evening after our office hours and our Italian lessons we did the thing that is pretty much a tradition by now, we drunk wine -a lot of wine- and we ate pizza. At this point, I strongly believe in the therapeutic effect of this tradition of ours. It’s our own way to move away for the everyday life and leave behind the possible stress and negative energy. It is our way to say ”Hello weekend”. So, the Friday night went smoothly like that and we had all the Saturday morning to sleep.

So I did. I slept until 11.00 o’clock and full of energy I started my day. I went with my friends to the market to buy some vegetables and fruits -because after pizza always I am telling myself that I have to start eating healthy- but unfortunately the first thing that I am seeing when I am going to the market from my apartment is the stents with the clothes. I don’t know if I already talked to you about my obsession but I am a bit of a shopaholic. I can’t keep my eyes and my hands of clothes. It’s a problem -a REAL problem- especially when you don’t have money. Anyways, I bought two scarfs -which I needed and costed only 4 euros in total- and then moved on in the vegetable and fruits plan of mine. After this small walk, we went for a quick coffee and the evening for an aperitivo -I hope that you remember that is one of my favorite Italian traditions-. The most interesting part of this Saturday was that we managed to try some new things here. We went for dinner in a restaurant, which seems more like a drive-in restaurant, and we tried the traditional piadina, an other thing you looks like a calzone but it’s a little bit different and last but not least we tried a fried pizza.

As you can understand, I am on a diet!

Sunday morning went by with sleeping until late and then studying a little bit so I don’t feel like I am not doing something serious all weekend. After lunch, we went for a coffee and an ice-cream and out of the blue we found ourselves in a local catwalk that was also the highlight for the town and everybody was there. After a huge try to see some models and outfits we went back to our house a little tired and ready to chill some more.

This is pretty much my life in Faenza..

Until the next time,

Danai, Greece

FIRST REAL CULTURE SHOCK

About a week ago I thought that all my days are the same now that I have nothing to write about any more. Well, I forgot – it’s about life… Something happens all the time; things go wrong, sometimes everything goes perfectly well. My room mate arrived and we have had a lot of fun the last weekend. But… then I also faced for the first time the first real culture shock!

Some paintings

Usually don’t go out to have a dinner or to the cinema with somebody. One evening, my room mate and I decided to go out for dinner. As I’ve been in Faenza for about two months already, I took her to a place that I quite like myself. It’s a nice place near Piazza del Popolo. We entered the room. The first problems started even before we could sit down. The reason is quite clear – my Italian is almost non existent and my room mate’s Italian is not better. Fortunately one of the waiters spoke a bit English. So we got a table for two. The waiter brought us a menu and explained what they have. Usually I’m not able to choose very quickly one meal between all these Italian choices of food, but this time I knew already what I wanted so we ordered a drink plus buffet aperitivo. Later, my room mate took another drink. I always try to spend as few as possible, so I did also this time. The place was very noisy, a lot of people and quite loud music. But, well, that was fine. Surprisingly. Finally we went to pay for our dinner. In my mind it’s funny that here you can eat and drink before and then you pay. What if I forgot my wallet at home and I have no money? Sorry dude, but I already ate your food… Bye then!

Anyway, in Estonia it’s normal and very common that when you go out with your friends, everyone pays for the things they ordered. But here they had put the bill together, but we wanted to pay separately. And what did they do? They just split the final sum and I was forced to pay more than I should have paid!!! Ok fine, the sum wasn’t that huge, but this is a question of principle and I have to say that it was a shock for me…

A nice breakfast few days before the culture shock

Another time my room mate and I decided to go to the cinema. It sounds funny that two foreigners who don’t understand a sh*t of the language go to see a film without any subtitles… Well, probably one way to learn a language, but still… It was surprising that actually I did understand quite a lot. At least in my mind. And as weird as it sounds, but it is one of a few places where I can actually hear Italian (and hopefully learn at least something). Very soon I’ll start my personal project. I hope to be able to do many personal projects, but this time I’m going to do a language exchange. I don’t really know yet how it will work, but hopefully I can finally learn a bit Italian and in return help with some English and/or French.

Coming back to the previous topic. Again, a cultural shock hit my in the face even before I could enter the auditorium. At first, we had to buy tickets (hahah, at least here we need to pay before can actually see the film). As we went to see a film in Italian, I thought it would maybe be a bit too weird when we happily announce everyone that we speak no Italian at all. So I tried to use some few words that I managed to remember and surprisingly the booking clerk didn’t switch to English (I assume his English might have been even worse than my Italian, so he just let me suffer). I asked for one ticket, but as I was there with my friend, the booking clerk automatically asked about both of us. And as my friend don’t speak Italian yet, I did answer for both of us. Again, according to my Estonian background, I naively thought that each of us is going to pay its own ticket, but, you can already guess how did it go… The booking clerk asked me 9€. So it was obviously me who had to pay for both of us again!!!!!! At least when I saw the tickets I discovered that we both got a discount, but the fact that I always need to pay for someone else makes me so angry!!! So this is the price when you try to “speak” Italian!? Now I’m absolutely terrified to go anywhere with somebody again…

Tutto il mio folle amore (2019)

A few words about the film itself. The title of the film we were watching is Tutto il mio folle amore (2019). It’s a drama by Gabriele Salvatores based on a true story that talks about family relationships. At the heart of the story are an autistic boy called Vincent, Elena, his mother, Mario, Vincent’s stepfather and Willi, boy’s natural father. One night when Willi comes to the house of Elena and Mario after having a concert, he’s drunk. It’s the first time when he sees his son. Elena is furious at Willi and kicks him out. The next morning, Willi leaves to go to perform in another city. When he stops his car in the middle of nowhere, Vincent jumps out of it and starts running. Willi is shocked. He informs Elena that their son is with him. Elena wants him to bring Vincent back at home, but Willi decides to continue his trip with Vincent. They have a lot of problems, accidents and worries, but this adventure also makes the relationship between the father and the son much stronger.

Suddenly, there was a pause for 3-5 minutes… In a cinema!!? I couldn’t believe that, I’ve never seen something like that in a cinema before. Only possible in Italy… 😀

Elena didn’t give up and she went to search for her son with Mario. At the end, all of the family members meet. I quite liked the ending of the film which was a bit sad, thought-provoking, not like all of the Hollywood movies with an eternal happy endings… Although I think that this film had also a happy end.

In my opinion, it’s a good film, worth watching. I’s a bit sad, but beautiful. The actors were very good. I liked the main character’s acting, in my mind, the actor played well a person with a mental illness. And the music they used in the film, was also good. I really loved the Imagine Dragons’ song Next to me at the very end!

In conclusion, I really enjoyed the film and the fact that I was able to watch it in Italian! I definitely want to watch some other Italian films in the future.

ABOUT BOOTS AND SHOES

New country, new experiences, new gladnesses and new problems. Possibility to grow internally, danger to have a mental breakdown. My life in Italy its has ups and downs, as everyone, as everywhere. One of my favourite writers Terry Pratchett has said: “Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.”

I have to say that Italy is quite a messy country – people are often quite disorganised, the traffic is crazy… But at some point I also kind of like Italian life style… sometimes. Lately I went to the market, because I needed new boots. I found one quite nice pair, not very expensive, but when I tried them, I discovered that unfortunately these ones don’t fit very well. So I asked for smaller ones. I have used to the fact that everything is in order and placed in a clear way – when you want to find smaller or bigger boots of the same type, you just go and take them from a place where you have all the same type of boots. Clear and easy, isn’t it? But how things work in Italy? Well, after I’ve told to the salesman that I would need a bit smaller ones, he tried to find them from the boxes that were under the boots I had tried. Then he went to the other side and searched them from there. He was looking for those boots almost everywhere and finally he came back and told me that he was sorry, but he couldn’t find them at that moment; and he told me to come back on Thursday… 😀

When I already started to talk about boots and shoes, there is another cultural difference that I’ve noticed: entering the room with your boots. In Estonia, it’s very impolite, disrespectful and even unthinkable to enter (especially somebody else’s) room/apartment/etc. with your shoes on; we always leave them in the corridor. There are some rare cases when the host asks you not to take off your shoes though. But here in Italy, it seems totally normal and usual thing to just to drop in with your shoes on. Well, in Italy or not, but in my room, I wouldn’t let people walk around like that. As my future room mate (who will arrive very soon) is from Finland, I hope that we share the same principles…

As the time flies by so fast and we’re always in a hurry, I feel that I need to charge myself and to take some time off. And the yoga classes are perfect for that! it’s the place where you can feel really calm and relaxed.

Also, finally I had the chance to practice again another activity which is one of my my big passions too – it’s rock climbing!! The last time I had the chance to rock climb was in the beginning of September. The climbing hall where I go here in Faenza is quite small, but at least it’s something. There is the possibility of climbing with ropes (lead and top rope climbing), bouldering and speed climbing (that I personally don’t like very much). Hopefully I will have the chance and courage to do more lead climbing in the near future as well.

Last but not least, last Sunday I visited Bologna! It’s also very beautiful city. I’ve always liked to watch some street artists from YouTube, but now I finally saw myself a wonderful drummer playing his self-made drum kit, a guy who was playing guitar and singing very nicely, an artist who was moulding a dog…

In general, it was again quite nice week full of different activities. Although you can never know what to expect from Italy and from the other people. But if it doesn’t kill me, I can manage it.

A presto!

Sono… malata!

Ciao a tutti per ancora una volta!

There are about 3 weeks and some days that I am officially living in Italy for a year. The EU picked me, SE.M.I picked me and I still don’t know the reason – I am kidding, I am getting some work done-. You already know my first impressions from Faenza, this small city that I am living now and for the next year. It’s beautiful, it’s pictural, it’s a medieval fairytale with the classic Italian architecture that makes you every time wonder if it’s really you that woke up today or Cinderella – even though you are not even blond-.

Anyway, the city of Faenza it’s my everyday mystery and I am giving my best to explore a small part every time. But, unfortunetelly, as beautiful it can be this city, it’s small and I am used to live in capitals, in big cities with big lights and nights that you are forgeting your name and nobody cares. I had to find a way to combain my preferences with my current state of living – Faenza-. I can thank for that my free weekends who gave me the solution to travel every Friday afternoon until Sunday and visit the big cities of Italy that have a special place in my heart.

That is in a few words my routine here. The week days I am working, shopping – I have to stop this hobby-, having fun and sometimes doing aperitivos so the week will pass easier. On the other hand, the weekends I am starting my adventures by visiting new cities, exploring the various architectural styles of Italy, visiting museums and getting to know the Italian lifestyle a little bit better.

One of the other things that happend to me during this change of country, change of routine and all these new information in my life, is that I… got sick! It’s pretty logical if you think about it. In Greece is still summer and when I came here I was also in a summer state of mind. But North Italy laught in my face. My first week here the weather was terrible. It was raining – I didn’t even had an umbrella and I took one in an emergancy situation, that so I paid for it 5 euros, the guy saw my need, he took advantage of it, I can’t blame him-, there cold got me unprepared also. As you can easily imagine I got sick in Italy from my first week. Maybe it’s the only time in my life that I had an autumn flu so early, in October. In Greece the cold weather usually comes in November.

I survived and that is the important thing of my story. An other situation that got me ungard and I really didn’t believe that it would be so difficult to get used to it, is the early morning waking up.

Maybe, I hadn’t the opportunity until now to explain you the situation in our house. After all these years of living alone, feeling secure, embrace my liberty, now I have two roommates. It’s ok because I was prepared, I know it a long time before coming in Faenza and I made my peace with it. Even though, the morning routine it’s a pretty difficult thing with just one bathroom and three girls who want to get ready for the office. The cherry in the weeding cake of course is that I am not even close to use this morning waking up at 8 o’ clock. I had like 3 years now that I was sleeping late and waking up at 12.00 o’clock in the afternoon, the same time that now starts my lunch break. Ok, I can say it really loud and proud, I GET YOU ORGANISM, IT’S A BIG SHOCK!

Anyway, I am trying really hard to get my organism to get use to the new lifestyle, the new food and especially the new enviroment. With the passing of the years I realized that the one thing that you have to love with all of your heart and respect it’s needs, is your body.

So, this blog we can say that is dedicated… to my body!

Arrivederci,

Danai, Greece

VOYAGE VOYAGE

Elif Şafak has said: “I love commuting between languages just like I love commuting between cultures and cities.”

I’ve been in Faenza for a bit more than a month by now. The lingua franca is still English; sometimes I can use French, but not very often (and speaking French one of the things I miss a lot). Lately I went to the laundry. I was quite afraid to do that because I knew that probably they don’t speak English there (which was the case by the way). I wasn’t able to understand what they said in Italian, but as a little surprise, one if the ladies said that she spoke French! So, thank god, we were able to communicate!

Faenza

From time to time, I try to use some words or expressions also in Italian. Here are some examples of my attempts to use Italian:

– One day, I was ordering a coffee in a bar. I was alone, so I didn’t have a wiser and braver friend to help me out with the language. I have to say that I was quite proud of myself that I used no English, although I said only one short sentence in Italian. Nevertheless, it’s extremely hard for me to speak in a foreign language if I don’t speak it well, and especially with native speakers.

– The other day, I was trying to say something in Italian to the kids in after school, but it’s still too hard for me, because my level is not good enough for that. Sometimes I do feel myself like Mr. Bean on his holiday in France: “Oui. Non. Gracias.” (Mr. Bean’s Holiday, 2007).

– Sometimes when I’m in a shop, I don’t ask the salesperson to use another language when I’ve understood the price for example. However, if they decide to say anything else besides the price, I need to ask them to say this in English or to answer in English that I didn’t understand this or just smile, nod my head and to pretend that I’ve perfectly understood them (although this wouldn’t be very smart thing to do).

All these small things make me feel good, but they also make me overcome fear and break out of my comfort zone.

Piazza del Popolo, Faenza

I’ve been talking quite a lot about languages now. Last but not least I need to say that I’ve finally started my Italian classes. I decided to try B1 level which is pretty crazy, because normal people don’t usually skip all the basics when they start to learn a new language. I mean, after a bit more than one month in Italy, I can already understand a little bit more than when I arrived here (which is quite logic, I think). Still, I know nothing about Italian grammar and it’s too hard to create a normal and understandable sentence. In general, I quite like the challenge and I do feel that A2 level is a little bit too easy and the progress might be a bit too slow. Hopefully I will be able to survive in B1 level classes…

Concerning the activities, there are not many changes. Things are going to be more calm and stable now. Twice a week I go to after school classes and once a week I work with international projects. I also write blog posts and follow some courses related to art therapy and teaching in Udemy. Hopefully I will soon start to develop my personal project as well.

In my free time, I finally have stable yoga classes and I really really hope to go soon to rock climbing too! Mostly when I come home, I’m quite tired; I like to spend time alone in my room, to relax, to listen to music and sometimes practice ukulele.

Ukulele

So much for my everyday life and for “commuting between languages”. Just like Elif Şafak, I also like “commuting between cultures and cities.” During the last weekends, I’ve been travelling to the towns and cities near to Faenza. I started with the town closer to Faenza and every time I went farther. As a picture is worth a thousand words, I will add more photos than text in the following part.

So my first destination was Brisighella which is undoubtedly my favourite place so far! This lovely small town just about 10 minutes from Faenza by train is a real paradise! I really love nature and the hills. It’s so green and lively everywhere. I felt very calm and very grateful among all this beauty and I’m very happy that I had the chance to visit such a wonderful place. Besides the nature, I also saw some towers: I visited La Rocca and La Torre dell’Orologio wchich were very beautiful as well.

My next destination was Ravenna which is a very nice place too. I visited some museums and mausoleums. It’s weird that they don’t sell any single tickets, you have to pay about 10€ and then you can visit all of the places there. But in general, the city was nice.

Lastly, my third destination was Florence (Firenze). It’s a very beautiful city and very popular among tourists, so it was too crowded. Still, I really liked the Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge) and the river. While walking around the city, I saw statues, street art, the panorama of the city, etc. I also went to a bar for lunch. I really like Italian cuisine, it’s definitely one of the world’s best. However, it is not very pleasant for Italians to see how I try to eat long pasta (if possible, I try to avoid that). As I haven’t acquired (yet) the right technique, it’s very painful for me to eat this kind of food when I try to twirl a kilometre long spaghetti to the damn fork… But well, maybe I will learn how to do that one day. Anyway, I try to give my very best.

Definitely I’d like to get to know more about this culture, to continue learning Italian, to travel more and to discover other closer and farther cities. It’s so easy to fall in love with Italy with all its beauty, weirdnesses, vivacity, architecture and impressive nature!

From Estonia with Love,

Triinu