Easter bunnies and morning sunbeams

Hey everybody!

SOmetimes I wonder how many people actually read my blog, but then again, I am writing first of all for myself. In five years time reading about my life in NZ (and elsewhere) will be an intense and nostalgic experience, but it will leave a smile on my face. These are memories I want to have on “paper”, written somewhere, retrievable.

Wohow it’s so sunny outside! A nice walk and grocery shopping at the market on the waterfront really makes your day. It was very windy though, the windiest day I’ve ever experienced in Welly so far. The ‘tents’ of the stands at the market were shaking so hard that at some point I almost thought they were going to fly away. People were holding on the poles in order to keep them on the ground, and a Japanese tourist was making a video of the whole thing of course.

Anyway, le’s carry on right where I left off: a few days before Easter time.

Friday, April 22 was a wonderful, sunny day (even though some friends of mine told me the opposite…I wonder whether there are two distinctive space/time dimensions in Welly). I went oout for a run along the waterfront, and instead of going back the way I had come from I decided to go all the way around Mt Victoria, running through Hataitai and arriving right behind my house. I brought my phone with me, in order to keep track of where I was and the rout to go (thanks Google maps!). Nonetheless, I managed to get lost in the forest on Mt Vic and what was supposed to be a nice morning run turned out to be a bit of a hike, for a total of 2 hours. My friend Marika is right when she says that I am a blind hamster..all I can do is laugh (both with and at myself), it was a pretty comic situation after all.

Anyway, on Sat morning Sarah and I took a bus to …. (no way I can remember such a complicated name), a little beach town, where some friends of hers had rented a house for Easter. We had brunch together (scrambled eggs, toasted bread, avocado, tomatoes, and bacon) and then took a walk on the seashore. It was cloudy and a bit cold, but nice overall.. a very relaxing day.

At about 4pm we took the bus back to Wellington, finished up packing, then Kris to picked us up and we drove to her parents’ home, in a little town about 30 min from Welly. We stopped at the supermarket and bought all sort of stuff, so much food (60% junkish and 40% healthy) for our week-end away. We had dinner at Kris’s parents and slept there, and on Sunday morning we left for Martinborough, a city in the Wairarapa region, about 2 hours from Wellington. We had rented a little villa close to the city center for one night, and the plan for the two following days was very simple: wine and relax.

The house was the cutest thing on earth, very rustic (see pictures), cozy, and warm. The owner had provided toilet paper, bed sheets, towels, and basic food (seasoning, coffee/tea and milk)..we brought the rest. Once we settled in and made tea, we realized that we were all extremely tired and abandoned the idea of going out that night, replacing it with a match of scrabble (or was it the following day?), reading, chatting, napping and eating lots of chocolate. Kris and I still made it to a winery, where we had some wine tasting, including a chocolate and blue cheese matching one. It was very intersting! I had never done any wine tastign before coming to NZ, and I am really starting to enjoy it (and to appreciate good wine).

On Monday, on our way home, we stopped in another winery for some more tasting, along with some bread with olive olil and seeds dip. So so good and genuine! I also made the acquaintace with one of the furriest and biggest cats I’ve ever met (see pics). It made me miss my fat Raja…prrrrrrr

After Easter break, we enjoyed another short week at work (only four days), which culminated with an office get together on Friday evening. Everybody was quite looking forward to it, because there hadn’t been an official Rugby New Zealand + NZ 2011 Office “drinks after work” get together in a while. I guess we were all also looking forward to an opportunity NOT to talk about work, and get to know one another a bit better outside of the usual working enviroment.

We went to Brujaus for a beer and nibbles (most of us took advantage of a coupon we had bought on one of those ‘one day deal’ websites), then picked up some ouf our colleagues at the Green Man, a sort of Irish pub (I’m saying sort of because it didn’t look soo soo Irish to me), and then, at about 11pm, we finally arrived at D.’s place, where we stayed until late, chatting with people we had never met before and with complete disregard of the Royal Wedding, which happened to be that same night (oh well, I recorded it and watched bits of the ceremony the following day). Andrea, a friend of my dad’s that is travelling throughout NZ, tagged along ad we all had lots of fun.

I have to admit, the following morning my head was hurting a little, but a nice chat with Sarah and some reading at the waterfront made everything alright.

Dinners, dinners, and mo’ dinners.

Last Sunday Andrea and another friend of mine, who lived for 2 and a half months in Busto Arsizio, came over for an Italian dinner. Andrea proved to be an excellent cook and made risotto with pears and gorgonzola cheese. It was EXCELLENT, and I was able to live off leftover salad/veggies and cheese for most of the following week.

Another event I had been looking forward to for weeks is the Flat dinner we had last Friday (two days ago). I made risotto with saffron and my flatmates made pizza. Guests brought booze and cake, and we all had a good time. I was looking forward to it because it was the first real flat dinner, with the 5 of us. In fact, Trelise, the 5th flatmate, had arrived on New Zealand on Monday, after spending 8 months in France.

I’ve been very lucky, both with the flat and with the flatmates. We all get along and, even though we have our separate lives, we all enjoy doing things together every once in a while, whether it is dinners, movies, or going out for a drink.

At the end of the month there will be ANOTHER dinner at a friend’s house. She’s a graphic designer and made beautiful invitations. Again, Italian dinner, but it’s going to be a bit more fancy than the one I had at my house. Well, a bit more organized at least, since there will be about 20-25 of us.

Talking about quality time, I had a couple of very random and pleasant afternoons with a friend of mine. They started off with a coffee in early afternoon and ended way beyond midnight. Nothing planned, just ideas and things coming up as the time went by. Yesterday we went to Te Papa museum for the exhibition of Brian Brake, a Kiwi photographer who traveled around the world in the 50s and 60s, taking pictures for international magazines as LIFE. The pictures he took in India, Japana nd New Zealand were particularly impressing, both for the subjects and for the technique, so detailed, so colorful, especially when taking into consideration that there were no digital cameras or sophisticated editing programs at that time.

I have so many things to say and write, every day is different, and every day deserves a special thought because it IS special, but it’s time to go out and find a coat (the weather is getting pretty cold here).

I want to say a special thank you to Lambton Harbour and to the Cook Strait. Every morning, on my way to work, I walk by the sea and the reflection of sunrays on the water, the breeze, the clean air, they give me put me in sucha  good mood, I feel at peace, and I walk into the office with the sensation of being in Heaven.

Peace

Benny

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Living it up in Welly

Hello everybody!!!!

How YOU doing?

Sooo log since my last entry, and so much has happened in these past few weeks! Ohh I’m such a lazy butt…I always end up having to make a list of what’s happening in my life rather than properly describing my experiences with all the emotions and sensations felt while they’re happening. Well, I hope that my entries manage to make you understand or feel even just a little part of my happiness and enthusiasm.

My goal is to live each day at its fullest and at the same time I am trying to find an equilibrium, a sort of “diverse routine” throughout the week, now that I have a job and an actual home.

There’s so much going on in Welly on daily bases! Concerts, exhibitions, movie or music festivals…you can’t get bored.

I have gone to the movies quite a lot. There is the German Film Festival in these days, with a series of documentaries shot by German filmmaker Werner Herzog. I‘ve managed to watch a cuple of them so far, all very interesting.

Wodaabe – Herdsmen of the Sun is about a tribe in Africa whose members believe to be the most beautiful people on Earth. The doco was mainly about an important ritual, a dance performed by men to please women. They dress up in extravagant costumes and put on heavy, bright colored make up. After the dance, women decide who they want to have as husband or just to spend the night with. The dance is quite unique, also because men try to show the white of their bulbs and of their teeth throughout the performance, something quite funny for us but considered very sexy by the members of the tribe.

The second doco, Wheel of Time, was about a Tibetan Buddhist initiation rite, which took place in 2002 in India in the presence of the Dalai Lama. For six weeks, hundreds of thousands of Buddhists flocked there, dedicating themselves to prayer and meditation. Pilgrims travelled on foot for years to take part to the ritual, prostrating to the ground every 2 steps, and showing exceptional perseverance and faith. A mandala is started at the very beginning of it and 9 monks take turns and work on it around the clock. At the end of the rite, a special ritual is performed by the Dalai Lama, who then destroys the Mandala.

I’ve also watched a couple of very interesting movies, as A Streetcar named Desire (con quel figo di Marlon Brando) and The Names of Love, a peculiar French comedy about “love and politics”. I recommend you to watch it if you want to have a good laugh.

Music, Music, and mo’ Music! 

– The concert of The Woolshed Sessions, a band who plays folk music with a variety of instruments, from the ukulele and the mandolin to Maori instruments of unspeakable name. A cold beer, informal environment, quality music, I remember that night as one of the most relaxing and “charged of positive, authentic vibes”.

Concerts around town by Carlos Navae, a Mexican friend of mine. He plays guitar, piano, and is the lead singer of 3 bands. They play Latin American music, and are amazingly good. He sings so well that I offered him lessons on Italian language and Italian cooking in exchange for singing lessons. We had a first meeting, which was very productive. It deserves to be written about, really. On Monday evening, the night before our first singing class, I went to his place with some other friends and we made tiramisu. The evening went on with some jamming, Ale playing bongos, Kris playing the piano, Carlos singing and playing the guitar and Dave playing the trumpet. So much fun, such good vibes, and such good quality music! The following day Carlos taught me how to warm up my voice before singing with a few, simple exercises. He then told me to choose 4 songs I want to learn how to sing WELL and to send them to him. I chose I’m no good by Amy Winehouse, A Dustland Fairytale by the The Killers, Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver and Heartshaped Box, a cover by The Evanescence of one of the best songs by Nirvana. I can’t wait to start working on those songs with Carlos (besides singing them by myself in my room or on the street). The funny thing is that later on in the evening I randomly bumped into him as he was going to a bar to play a gig. I tagged along, had free dinner at the bar and listened to an amazing performance, (Buena Vista Socal Club gave me the shivers). It’s random nights like this that really make your week.

Last Friday I went to a gig of one of my flatmates. He’s the drums player of Candies for Strangers, a Drum & Bass band, and that was their last gig cos one of the members is moving to Auckland. Amazing concert, a “scarica di adrenalina” in every note, in every beat. We danced liked crazy for the whole evening (I had to burn an high-calorie dessert eaten at Strawberry Fare, a restaurant FAMOUS for its desserts), and everyone had an awesome time. I met the sister of one of my flatmates, who has been living in Italy for about one year, and who was eager to have a chat with some italian speaker and practice the language.I’m always very pleased when someone is learning or is willing to learn Italian, cos they’re moved by a true love for the language, for its sounds, and not because they have to. I’m def. keen on meeting up with her and help her out practicing Italian.

It was nice to go out with all my flatmates, both on that occasion and on the previous Friday, for a flat-warming dinner out in an amaaaazing Thai restaurant (and then out for drinks – hearing Carlos playing with one of his bands).

Talking about flats…my room has finally furniture in it! Yaaaay! Well, at least it has a bed, a built-in wardrobe and a drawer with a huge mirror! It took me a while to clean this last piece of furniture, considering that when it first got here it smelt like a haunted mansion (or dead bodies..well not that I know what dead bodies smell like..but you know what I mean), but now it’s all neat and clean and drawers had enough room to allow me to empty my suitcases yaaayyy! It was about time, after 2 months and a half…! The mirror broke on one side when the guys brought the drawer in (no splinters, only a “cut”), but I wasn’t there so I guess the rule of “7 anni di sfiga” doesn’t apply to me (fingers crossed tho!).

Ok what else…ohh so much! May is fully booked: I start an advanced course of French language and a course of Chinese for Tourists (and one of my flatmates is doing it too!), + finally joined a women-only gym!

For Easter I’m going to Wairarapa, famous for its vineyards, with a couple of friends. A roadtrip, and some wine-tasting with two other girls… the perfect Easter vacation for single ladies (actually, one of us is not single, and it’s not me)!

Tomorrow, Italian pasta-based dinner at Holly’s. I bought saffron, cooking cream, pesto sauce, and much more foody goodness to make a delicious meal, can’t wait!!!!

There’s such a nice weather today, I’m off to the park (and maybe to some special exhibition at Te Papa Museum).

I love cheap sushi here.

Love and sunshine to everybody!

Benny

New Job, House Hunting and Summerset Festival

So…finally some updates…but where to start?!

Well, first of all: MY JOB

On February 21 I started a new job, AND I LOVE IT. I work at NZ2011, a team created to project and coordinate programs to promote New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup.

The three major projects we work on are the Real NZ Festival, the Real NZ Showcase, and the Business Club. The first one is a nationwide festival, made of more than 100 events, taking place from September (and earlier) on throughout the country. The second one generates an opportunity for the main industries here to show their potential during the RWC, through a series key events (most of which also belong to the festival) that will display the progress of each industry and business opportunities both at a domestic and international level. It might be a boat show, or a demonstration of advanced agricultural technologies, or a visit to the studios of WETA Digital. This project, as well as the Business Club, has a strong focus on (but not exclusively) a “business audience”: people who are still coming for the games but that might be interested in meeting kiwis that work in the same field end take part to events that show how that sector has developed here in NZ. This is the main purpose if the Business Club: match like-minded people, international visitors on one side and kiwis on the other, according to the regions they are going to visit, on which days, and their interests. Kiwis become thus potential hosts, creating events in their vineyards or taking selected international visitors fishing on their boat. This is an opportunity to live unique experiences and at the same time open business opportunities for future collaboration.

I am mainly working on the Showcase, gathering information about the events that each sector plans on doing, as some of them may vary in time/place or be cancelled, depending on the budget of the different companies and associations. I am also working on relationships with foreign OTAs (Official Travel Agents). We provide them with tailored information both about the Business Club and the Festival, so that their clients will know what will be happening in each of the cities they’ll visit during their tours and won’t miss out on any opportunity. Considering that there will be more than 1000 events, both public and private, this is a huge help we provide, but OTAs don’t always understand what we are trying to do, and each of them needs a very special approach.

I can’t really explain more than this..if you are curious please visit the website http://www.nz2011.govt.nz and visit our website…it’ll provide you with deeper insight and a better understanding of what we do.

What I like the most about this office is that all people are driven by a real passion for their country and a strong will to make sure that New Zealand won’t stay just a spot next to Australia at an international aye but will show its real value, and do everything possible to achieve such goal. Alas! Not everybody is Kiwi (apart from me, a real foreigner, there’s a few Britons and Australians too), but we all (yes, me too) share this goal, we all want to achieve it, BECAUSE WE ALL LOVE NZ and know that this is its occasion to glee! Yes, it might sound a bit bold from my side, since I arrived here less than two months ago, but all I felt so far is positive vibe, and want to do everything possible to help out this young country, with an amazing potential, to spread its wings.

Last Week I even had my first drinks with colleagues after work! It is considered pretty normal in here, having a beer with colleagues on Friday afternoons, thing I find it quite amazing. It might be considered like our “office aperitivo”, but with a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere! I have also been invited to the 20th wedding anniversary of a colleague of mine, even though I’ve known her only for a few weeks! Everybody is fully dedicated on their work, completely focused, but then also knows how to enjoy life. Another initiative we are taking up now is Friday mornings breakfast: an opportunity to talk to colleagues you normally don’t deal too much with in a less formal, more chatty way than that normally adopted in a meeting room. It’s a good way to exchange info and updatse among different teams within the office and have a good start of the day at the same time.

 

In the past week I made some new friends as well!

First, there’s Frank, graphic designer at Resn. I like his colored but yet fashionable clothes (especially his purple t-shirt). He’s interesting. We share the same little obsession for iPhone apps, good movies, love for art in general and we both study French. One of his idols is Michael Jackson. I kicked his ass at foosball 🙂

Sabrina is a very nice Italian girl who arrived here 4 weeks ago.

I met her at Giulia’s birthday party (OMG she got married last week!!), where there were 50ish people, 80% Italian. Lots of fun, and an excellent BBQ! The cutest thing was a cat-shaped cake. Well…the cat was all pink and looked a bit like a pig, to tell the truth, but still cute. It was pink inside too and the whole cutting scene reminded me a bit of Simpsons’ Grattachecca e Fichetto (Itchy & Scratchy) hehe.

After the BBQ we went to the Newtown Festival (Newtown is an area in the outskirts of WLG), but arrived too late and there was nothing lest but a single stand with the last bands playing rock music. Still pretty cool, but a bit sad at the same time. We had a beer and then, at about 9pm, we went home (sharing a cab with a random super-funny Welsh guy and his friend cos the bus was nowhere to be seen).

 

DIET VS MEATPIES

A few drinks and continuous movement (I walk everywhere, up and down the city, every day) sometimes make you want a junky but yet tasty boost of proteins, and I found the cheapest and tastiest solution: meat pies, especially the minced meat and cheese ones. You find them in every supermarket and 24h shop. They’re warm, tasty, and cheap (about $2.40 each). It is just the next best thing, and it is new to me (thank God we don’t have them in Milan…or do we?) Anyway we don’t have 24h stores so it doesn’t make a difference since I normally have one on random nights btw 9pm and 6am…

Apart form those fat providers, I keep a rather healthy diet. Well, as healthy as possible, and with a good dose of movement.

At this point I made you either very hungry or completely sick…

 

HOUSE HUNTING

After visiting 10 houses in 3 days last week, I finally found my future home!

The whole house hunting experience has been quite interesting actually. I visited some places where only a pig (or an erasmus student) could live, and others in which the “room” (finger brackets) was actually a fairly large closet. The general answer was “we’ll let you know within the end of the week”, and the only actual positive responses that I had almost right away were those for the very crappy houses. On the fourth day, taking a break from the hunting, I received the third positive response and that one caused a real inner dilemma. It was quite a nice flat (the upper floor of a house) on Oriental Parade (very close to the beach) and the rooms (there were two available to choose from) were both quite big (you could fit a queen size bed and they all had an built-in wardrobe). The only other flat-mate was quite nice: a guy in his early-mid thirties, and a trainer in a gym. The thing is, the living room was very small and the kitchen almost non existent (a very small cooking corner within the living room). I am a social person by nature, so having only one other flat-mate (ok, 2 in the future) and a house in which I can’t really host anyone for coffee or dinner just doesn’t work for me. Whoever knows me a little understands what I mean. I didn’t feel at home, despite all the objectively positive points. Therefore, when I received the txt saying “if you want the room is yours”, I sort of panicked. After a Skype chat with my dad and consulting with 4 different friends here in NZ in the end I decided tut turn the offer down. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I never regretted it and felt relieved after texting the guy back. Well, I told him that I had found another place (a little lie that spares a long explanation) and he was cool with that. As a self-revealing prophecy, on Sunday evening I received a positive response by one of the coolest flats I had visited. I was sooooo happy, the news really made my day. The place is a 10 min walk to Courtenay Place (one of the main roads in the city center) and the flat is modern and very clean. My future flat-mates are a couple, both lawyers (and the guy is a Drum and Base / Dubstep dj as well!!), and a graphic designer, whose girlfriend is traveling throughout Europe. They are all about my age and seem very nice, laid-back people. The room is quite big (about as those of the other house, maybe slightly bigger), but the living room is huuuge, with a big  glass door that illuminates the whole area. The kitchen is still within the living room but quite big nonetheless. The house is sort of cream colored, which makes the whole place even brighter, with light gray moquette in all rooms (as most of the houses here..no fantasy at all). I can’t move in yet, because the current tenant is still in the process of moving out (he’s going to live with his girlfriend but they are still looking for a place), but as soon as I do you’ll see pics of the place! I bought a bed off a friend of a friend ($100 for bed and sheets..not bad!!), which is quite exciting cos it’s the first time that I get to pick furniture for my bedroom abroad (of course my favorite one is and will always be my bedroom in Milan, oriental style and purple walls).

 

WELLINGTON IS SMALL!!!

Some weird coincidences often happen here in WLG, to which I’m slowly getting used to. They are all connected to the fact that Wellington is a SMALL city and, secondly, that New Zealand itself has a total of 4 million people. Result = rather than 6 degrees of separation, in WLG there are max 2 or 3. After visiting the place on Oriental Parade, while heading to the last flat of the day, I bumped into a girl that works at the Embassy if Argentina, whom I had met for the first time in a meeting that very afternoon. No, this is not the coincidence. We started chatting (I’m going to send you that email abt bla bla, etc) and I told her I was house hunting and that I had just visited a house on Oriental Parade. Turns out that it was HER house and she was one of the 2 girls moving out. HOW WEIRD IS THAT?! Still shocked by the coincidence, I headed to the last house and, just by slightly turning my head to the right, I saw Sarah talking to a friend at the entrance of a building. We had a brief chat, and with even greater shock I finally arrived to the third and last house of the day. I’m not surprised by daily encounters with people I know now. I went to a festival yesterday and the first person I saw at the queue for toilets was a kiwi girl I had met through Giulia, and then, in the queue for the bar, Sarah and I ran into a couple of guys that we had seen at the beach the Sunday before, and then we ended up being next to them also for a the majority of the concert. We didn’t really talk, but they were very nice and offered to take us on their shoulders to see better, as we had ordered also for them at the counter (we kindly refused – me as wearing skirt).

 

Well, since I was talking about the festival..I have to say, it was AWESOME! The festival is called Summerset and it took place in a cricket place right next to my future home. 3 stages + Silent Disco, featuring Dizzee Rascal (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSnllZjJLro), Dead Prez, and Dubstep DJs such as Chasing Shadows and Bass Nectar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VCO_M4jKI4). The festival started at 2 pm but we arrived there at about 6, skipping minor bands and saving energy for the big ones. We danced until 11.30 pm and had HEAPS of fun! I hadn’t danced Dubstep and Drum & Bass in a while and it was very “liberating”, pure energy and rhythm! Bouncing and bouncing, my green hoodie on (inherited from Melanie, a Canadian girl, very good friend of mine, met in Finland..thanks again Mel!), gangsta style.

Last Sunday deserves a to be mentioned as a great day as well. Veeery nice sunny weather, not too windy, perfect for going to the beach with friends (needed rest after a Latin American style birthday party hehe). We saw a group of 6 or 7 killer whales and another one of stingrays! Ai first, people were freaking out because they thought the fins belonged to sharks, then to dolphins, and then we realized that they were black and white..a bunch of Free Willies! Yaayyy! I had never seen them so near to the seashore! In fact it is not common at all, but I was told that, in their migration, this is the period in which they swim in this area.

After the beach I went on a date: dinner out in an Italian restaurant and movies. We watched “True Grit”, which, despite all the nominations and prizes it won, I considered quite average. I have to admit that actors has such a thick southern accent that, despite my year in Texas, I could get hold of half of the things they were saying, so wasn’t really able to appreciate all the deep dialogues that might have taken place. During the move I received a call by my future flat-mates, saying that the room was mine, and that was the cherry on top of a wonderful day!!!

Last Wednesday and Friday were cool too! On Wed I went to a French Movies Trash Night at the office of a friend of mine. The place is amazing, complete with foosball and pool table, huge flat screen and beer from tap. All colleagues and friends were very nice and we watched “Sheitan” and “13-Tzameti” eating pizza and having beer. I had also brought some home made lasagna, which was highly appreciated (despite the lack of real ingredients like ragù, replaced by bolognese sauce and minced meat).

On Friday I went to an office warming party and met a lot of interesting people, mostly designers. One of them (an extraordinary woman) and I are planning an Italian dinner for one of these weeks, a real event! Very much looking forward to it!

What else has happened in the last weeks? A bit of everything I must say…

AH! I received my first business cards! They say Benedetta C. Rossi, Advisor – Business Engagement. Yes, big deal you might say, but..well…IT IS TO ME!!!

I also went to Palmerston North to assist to a presentation of the Business Club, one of our products. My first real business trip (even though it was only 2 hours away by car). Yet again, easily excited, but whattahell, I’m just happy for this new job!

I should talk about St. Patrick’s Day at Molly Malone’s, probably the biggest Irish pub here in WLG, with live band and lots of arm-in-arm dancing (girandole a braccetto..?). Pics are pretty self explanatory though, so take a look at them on fb (Sarah took’em, I was tagged).

Well, it’s Sunday, there’s still some sun out, and I want to soak it as much as I can…park, here I come!

– I edited the text and published it after day out…very sunny and relaxing indeed! –

Peace.

Benny

Vineyards, Sting concert, and costume parties!

February 19

I’ve just realized that while I did post pictures of the past two weeks, my blog has stopped to my first 7 days in Wellington and needs major updating.

Well, weekdays are spent pretty much distributing resumes all over the city. I keep creating new contacts, but nothing concrete, as companies are not hiring at the moment and don’t even have enough work load to take an intern for free. As sad as it sounds, I don’t give up and I’ll keep knocking on doors, sending e-mails, and creating new contacts!

Let’s come to the fun part, the experiences that are making my staying in Wellington actually unforgettable.

The past two week-ends have been amazing! On Saturday 5 Sarah and I went downtown for the 7s party! During the whole week-end people walked around dressed up in the craziest ways, day and night, just like Carnival. The occasion is the 7s rugby tournament, which is called that way because teams are made of 7 players instead of 15. A great number of people actually go to the games (which are held on Saturday afternoon), but for most of them the tournament is just a pretext. What really count are the parties held on Friday and Saturday night! On the second night the whole Courtney Place area was fenced and closed to traffic, and all restaurants, clubs, and bars stayed open till late to host a ridiculous amount of people, ranging from 16 y.o. to late 50s, all out to party. Sarah and I hadn’t even thought about dressing up, but inventiveness and 15 minutes in the dollar store proved to be enough to create our costume. The theme was Italian Mafia Girls, and as you can see form pictures, the disguise consisted of black hat (I still use mine!), white shirt/top, black tie, black pants, black/fish-nut tights, and sexy shoes/black boots. Accessories: colorful whig (red for Sarah and hot pink for me), fish-nut gloves (even though I forgot mine at Sarah’s), crazy sunglasses and lots of make-up! I went to Sarah’s with make-up and wine and we got ready together for the big night! We went to The Republican, where we met some friends of mine, and then to Estadio, where they played Latin American music. Walking on the street, I noticed that there were four main types of costumes: the team related ones (people dressed as players, cheerleader, or as something symbolic of the country of a team), the slutty ones (not surprising at all), the men-in-tights ones (I know that deep inside you like it boys, or are in some ways attracted by the idea of wearing tights!), and the I-just-go-crazy ones, with no limit to fantasy. My friends were dressed as olympic runners from Kenya, bodies completely covered with brown painting. It took us a while to find them, especially because I DID not know that they were going to be all black in the first place 🙂 A group of guys dressed up as mimes tried to catch our attention on the dance-floor at Republican, but they were actually acting as mimes, and after 5 minutes of “we-are-trying-to-impress-you-with-mime-like-performance” Sarah and I decided to leave, letting them carry out their silent conversation by themselves. We went to Estadio, where we stayed till 3 am. Here’s the picture: Latin American live band, Latin American guys, including people wearing ponchos and huge sombreros, and some Latino-wannabes (kiwis wearing colorful clothes or t-shirts of the Argentina soccer team). At 3.30, after dancing the danceable, we headed off to our homes, exhausted but very happy. I had a great time and I know Sarah did as well, especially because we hadn’t really planned it, we just wanted to have fun and see people in customs. In the end the evening exceeded expectations.

On Sunday afternoon I met up with the two Sarahs and other girls for brunch. It was a pleasant afternoon: excellent meal, ok weather, and interesting people. The funny thing was that all of us were connected by the same person: Fran. Before leaving for Wellington, she had given me the fb contact of four of her friends, and we all finally got to meet up for brunch. Sarahs already knew each other, but had rarely or never met the other girls, as Fran had known them in different contexts at different stages of her life. A very girly rendez-vous, it was, and after hours of chatting and laughing we all tottered to the respective homes, stuffed with food.

Skipping to last week-end, I spent 3 days in Hawke’s Bay in company of couples in their late 50s, which turned out to be a quite interesting and entertaining experience, especially because we all went to see Sting perform live in a vineyard! At 8.30 am on Friday morning Bruce and I were hitting the road to Hawke’s Bay, an area on the east coast about 4 hours away. Bruce was actually born and raised there, and the concert was an occasion for him to meet up with his old pals, who of course came with their wives. We all met up for lunch in a restaurant in Napier, a city close to H B. You can see pics of the whole party on fb. There were two couples (all men went to Uni with Bruce) and another guy, who is the owner of the beach house where we spent the week-end. His wife is in Bali now, managing their factory of ballerina shoes/wear (scusa se è poco!). The restaurant was furnished and decorated with a very particular taste, a mix of Latin American and Asian style (Maori too? I couldn’t really tell), wood, iron, and bright colors textiles everywhere. I liked both the environment and the food, and was impressed by the service. When they brought my dish, I noticed that the bottom of my quiche was rather cold, so I asked them to warm it up (in a very kind way of course). After a while the waitress came up to me saying that they were going to bring me a new one, as the chef didn’t want to provide “second hand food”, AND she offered me a glass of wine too! I was positively, absolutely astonished. That’s what I call good service and customer care! After lunch we went to the beach house, unpacked, and took a stroll on the seashore. The weather was too cold to go for a swim and too windy/cloudy to lay on the beach, but the view was breathtaking: clear blue sea, surrounded by green hills and mountains, pure air, and a surfer trying to catch some waves, (rather unsuccessful I must say). We made a barbecue for dinner and spent the evening chatting and reading. Bruce’s friends are quite cool: most of the boys are managers of some sort and their wives are..well, one is a doctor, and the other one..I don’t remember really. They’re all quite high class and a bit posh, but in a genuine and very literate kind of way. Anyway, I was pretty exhausted that night and went to bed quite early. On Saturday morning “the girls” and I went out for a walk in the woods behind the house (yes, here in NZ it’s pretty much always like that: sea in front of you, green hills and mountains behind you), then a group of us went to Napier for lunch (and some good window shopping). How did we get there? With a roaring convertible, radio (ipod) playing Frank Sinatra, the wind blowing our hair (but not in a Bridget Jones way), the sun shining, and green hills all around us. We looked like a bunch of dandy pals, but who cares? It was a great ride. The guys stayed around the car, reading, whereas Julie and I went widow shopping. Napier is considered the capital of Art Deco, since most of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1930s. You can see colorful buildings, with names of shops painted on the wall, and a lot of concept stores, all defining a high class style that mixes modernism with a colonial taste. Most of them sold both clothes and items for the house, or very kitch and expensive jewelry, along with all sorts of lotions and perfumes (sort of like a posh and original Zarah Home). One of the stores even had a café in the back, all in colonial style, which I found very cute. Some stores in Milan are starting to adopt this strategy, let’s see if they’ll have success. Anyway, we didn’t really buy anything, but my friend was very keen to purchase two skulls of goat, with horns and all, to put in clear vases in her living room. I thought she was joking when she asked the saleswoman for their price, and was totally puzzled when my friend started telling me how she could get them at a cheaper price (they were more than $300 each!) just talking to some friends of his husband, who are shepherd or butchers. At a certain point I stopped trying to explain that the idea of having skulls of dead animals in one’s living room was just too far from my ethics and from my concept of beauty, art and furniture, and started nodding instead. Lunch break was amazing though. J. and left the men at an ice-cream shop and went to a café that could be defined “tea time with your dolls”, “love, harmony, and friends”. Imagine a room full of flowers, white, embroidered tablecloths, and u endless number of china teacups and teapots, each one different from the others..and then flowers again, all coming from the garden of the owner/manager of the place. We had a delicious quiche and a little sweet treat, which also came with flowers! The other side of the café was actually a shop, selling very expensive clothes and all sort of accessories. You have to see pics on facebook to have a better idea of the place! When we left, I felt in complete harmony with the world, very happy and a bit giggly (little, soundless and pointless giggles). We went grocery shopping, then back home, where we made some sandwiches and then off again heading to the Mission Estate Winery to see Sting and the NZ Symphony Orchestra performing live! We got there at about 5.30 (quite a walk from the car to the actual place), just in time ti find a decent spot to set our “camping equipment”. The concert was in a green open area, basically a hill surrounded by vineyards, populated by 25000 fans, all sitting on the ground with their blankets and sandwiches. We were quite uphill and the ground was very steep, but Bruce’s ingenuous friend had brought a hoe, which he used to dig holes so that the chairs would be in horizontal position. The whole situation was quite comic actually: after digging our chairs’ graves, we saw quite a few people in the same situation and started passing the hoe around, which came back to us some 2 hours later. After the cover band (not bad at all) played for a couple of hourse, at about 8 Sting appeared on stage, accompanied by some 50 orchestra artists, including an amazing singer, who sang with him in almost all of his songs. I am not a very big fan of him – I mean, I recognize him as a world music celebrity and an icon in the history of music, but apart from a couple of his songs and hits by The Police I really don’t know much about his music and couldn’t train enough with my ipod – but his performance with the orchestra really gave me the shivers. The last song was Message in a Bottle and EVERYBODY was singing, dancing, shaking light-sticks, and at the end of the concert 50000 hands were clapping and waving for this exceptional music event. We all went home tired but happy. We didn’t do much on Sunday: packed, had a light lunch, and headed back home. It was a sunny and relaxed day, a perfect end of the week.

I could write about how much effort I’m putting into the job search, but this is neither entertaining to read nor pleasant to write so I’ll just skip all the CV handing part. Instead, I will write about my new friends here, so that y’all know who I’m talking about when I’ll mention this or that person.

There are Sarah Ag. and Sarah Al., who I have already written about. They are both friends of Fran’s (see explanation above) and some of the very first people I met here. Sarah Ag. has lived in Spain as well and we often speak in Spanish, mostly when we don’t want other people to understand us 🙂 The three of us get along very well and we meet up for coffee or drinks once or twice a week.

Diego is Italian but has lived here for the past two years. He works at WETA Digital, making special effects of movies like The Hobbit, Happy Feet, and Avatar. Cool guy, met at the random Italian Community party a couple of weeks ago. Here I mention also Filippo and Raffaele, met thanks to Giulia (the girl I randomly ran into in front of the Mediterranean restaurant). Filippo and Giulia have lived here for 5 years and are about to get married!

Victor is a French guy I met at Te Papa Museum on my 3rd day here. He is doing an internship (CRUI MAE) at the French Embassy and will stay here for 3 or 4 months.

Isabella is a ballerina with sicilian roots. I’m not sure of how much Italian she speaks, but definitely more than only “Ciao, come va?”. I ran into her twice but we haven’t really had a proper chat yet. She seems funny and enthusiastic, and will be coming to dinner tonight (more about it later on).

Olivia is a friend of Bruce’s who spent three years in Milan. She attended IED school and wants to work in textile design. She’s a really cool girl (and lives in the same building as Diego..Wellington is so small!) but will leave for Sydney at the end of the month. Sob sob.

Finally, there is Corrado, a guy from Como/Milan who works at the Mediterranean restaurant (and NO, I do not work there, not yet at least..misunderstanding btw the managers there). He spent last year in Australia and has come to Wellington with his French girlfriend. They’ll work here until November, when their visas expire, and then will be traveling throughout Asia before heading back to Europe. We are the exact opposites, in terms of character, musical/cinema/fashion, and point of views on many subject matters, but this is why we get along so well!

We are all meeting up at Sarah Al.’s tonight and will cook an international dinner! I love dinners and house parties (and organizing them as well)..it was basically my thing when I was in France (with a proper training in Finland and Spain hehe)! All guests seem pretty excited about it too! We’ll make some tapas and Benny’s pasta with saffron and cooking cream, and it will all come with liters of sangria of course! I’ll post pictures within next week.

I could write long pages about the evening I had a glass of wine with some friends on a meadow under the sun (and how the evening actually ended at like 2am), or about my first time to the beach here (yaaay fially sun-tinned..and sun-burnt too unfortunately), but they are all episodes that need to be lived and have no justice on a few lines on a blog… you just have to see pictures and use your imagination, that’s it!

Benny

Italian community in Wellington

On Wednesday evening I had a drink with Sarah Ag., another friend of Fran’s. We went to The Library again and we had a very light cocktail which tasted like lemon tart, no, lemon bars..anyway sooo delicious! We had a great time too: she is so sweet and nice, just like the other Sarah!

Thursday, Feb 3

Those three days had been so intense that I needed to charge a bit so I decided to take it easy. In the morning I had a meeting with the account of an advertising agency (I’d rather not write names, but it’s a local one that works a lot with the government). It wasn’t really an interview, but at least I got a real chance to talk about myself, my studies, and my perspectives on the marketing sector. They wanted to see something I had written in English so the following day I went there with the PDF file of my Bachelor’s thesis. They should get in touch with me on monday or tuesday…fingers crossed! In the afternoon I saw a crazy parade for The 7s: car-driven carts all decorated carried the team members, surrounded by “hostess/groupies”, throwing necklaces and candies from their wagons. Italy wasn’t there, and it’s not like I really care about rugby, but the energy and enthusiasm of real fans on the streets affected me and I found myself yelling “Vive la France” to the French team and jumping at the sight of the American team. It was cool (see pics on fb)!

In the evening I did my first shift at Estadio. All colleagues were super nice and I think it went well (and the food looked extremely yummy!). Nonetheless, they would not be able to guarantee a minimum amount of hours, so I still kept looking, and will have another trial shift at a Mediterranean restaurant called Osteria del Toro, managed by an Italian friend of Bruce.

Friday, Feb 4

I finally went out for a run, which went pretty well. The weather wasn’t super-hot and the track not so crowded, but I realized that I really need to buy a pair of running shoes.. mine have a super-slim sole that will eventually break my feet!

Anyway, the whole day went smoothly: I left my resume in 5 advertising agencies and then managed to get the wi-fi work on my computer (no more internet cafés yay!), thanks to the help of a well prepared guy at Telecom call-center.

In the afternoon I went to Osteria del Toro and talked to the manager, setting my trial shift. There, I met Giulia, who was dropping by the restaurant to say hi. She has lived in Wellington with her boyfriend for FIVE YEARS! I asked her about their experience in NZ and we started chatting. She and her bf have just received their residency, will soon get married and are about to buy a house of their own (as opposite to renting one): they have realized their dream! After a while Giulia said “hey, I have a birthday party tonight, and there will be a bunch of Italians! Wanna come?” – “Sure”. I jumped with her on a bus to her house and met her bf and a friend of theirs, who arrived in NZ a little over an year and had been living all around the world. After more chatting, we went to the party, where I met a real Italian community, 20 people or so all speaking Italian! Most of the guys work for WETA, an important visual effects company (they worked with Peter Jackson on The Lord of The Rings, on Avatar, etc). Even though most of them had a job already, they all found a way to stay, which was very encouraging for me!

I had some nice chats (in Italian!) with quite a few people there and hope to meet them again!

That’s all for now. We’ll see how this crazy week-end will be, with the 7s and everything!

First days in New Zealand!

Jan 28

On Jan 26th I left dear and cold Italy for the other side of the world, and I MEAN the other side. New Zealand, land of Kiwis, meaning the fruit, the bird, and the people!

The first plane took off at 5.45pm of Jan 26th, and after flight changes in Frankfurt, Singapore and Sydney, the very last one landed in Wellington at about 2pm on Jan 28. Changing constantly the time on my watch, I felt like a time traveler, in a timeless and spaceless dimension called plane, sort of like the DeLorean car of Back to the Future, and suddenly puff, it’s 2 days later. The flight went well: I got to sleep, watched loads of movies, and read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

Bruce, my contact and temporary host here, picked me up at the airport, which is a 20 min drive from the city. The sun, the fresh air, the green mountains and the clear blue sea were breathtaking, and I felt in paradise. After a quick stop at his house and a shower, Bruce and I walked around the city, first along the waterfront and then up to Courtney Place, where we stopped for a glass of wine. The city center is very compact, walking from one side to the other takes less than an hour, and streets are full of nice cafés, restaurants, and all sort of shops. Starbucks: yes, Gloria Jeans Coffee: yes, 24 hours shops: yes, cheap miso soup (takeaway): yes. I’m all set!

Anyway, after our pit stop we went to the supermarket, where I bought shampoo, shower gel, and lotion. Heading back home, we met up with a friend of Bruce, Olivia, a girl about my age. She spent 3 years in Milan but, due to visa issues, she had to go back to NZ and will soon be heading to Sydney. We had dinner together (amazing soup), but at 8.30 I had to say goodnight and crashed on my bed.

Sat, Jan 29

I woke up at 8 and decided to go for a run. I put my running suit on, bought a king size bottle of water, and started running, headphones playing my workout play list. Useless to say that after 10 minutes I was exhausted! My muscles hadn’t moved for more than 2 days and were completely atrophied. A bit frustrated, after several attempts I decided to give my lungs a break and started walking instead. T

he view at the riverfront is breathtaking: colonial and rustic style houses, most of which are restaurants or cafés, ad ships of all sizes docked at the port. Beaches in Wellington are not that great and very small, but good enough go and lay under the summer sun, something I’ll soon be doing, before the season’ s over. The thing is that W. is extremely windy, which makes the weather unpredictable. What I have experienced so far is a very warm and sunny morning and a slightly colder afternoon, cloudy or not. Evenings are always cool, it’s worth bringing a jacket.

Back to Saturday, after the run Bruce and I took some friends of his to the airport, stopping at a café on the seaside for a quick lunch. There, I had my first “Flat White”, the most common type of coffee drink for kiwis. It’s like a cappuccino, but with less foam, and I would say a little less milk. It’s generally served in cappuccino-like cups, but you can order a “bowl” of it as well! Bruce’s friends are a very interesting couple. They’ve lived in London for a few years, and traveled all over the world, including smth like 5 months in South America, a month in Italy, and a few months in India. The reason why they came back to NZ is that they’ll soon be having a baby, the beginning of their greatest adventure. I’d looove to find a guy that is willing to undertake that lifestyle, which is exactly how I intend to live my life in the upcoming years (provided that I find a job first and finally start earning some money). Anyway, they live in Auckland and had come to W for a wedding. After dropping them at the airport Bruce and I went to a liquor store, where I bought a bottle of wine for the evening (further explanation later).

I sort of napped for the rest of the afternoon and then went out for dinner with a friend of Fran’s, a Neozealandese girl I had met in Montpellier. Fran was so nice to give the ctcs of some friends of hers, and voilat, here I was having dinner with one of them. Sarah brought also another friend, this hilarious guy who looks 29 even though he’s 36. We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, where I hade the best noodle soup ever. And here we come to the bottle story: in some restaurants, generally the cheaper ones, you can choose to bring your own beverage, including wine or beer. It’s totally cool, and you get only charged something like $4 per bottle. We drank Sarah’s red wine though, so my bottle is still sitting at home, waiting for the next party or dinner out. After dinner they showed me around a bit and we went to a couple of bars: The Good Luck Bar and The Library. In the first one, I had one of the best cocktails ever, which tasted like apple tart! Sooo delicious! Moreover, the waiter there was super cute and I totally have a crash on him. I just need to drag more people to the bar, wait and see! It was a great night, my friends are super nice and funny…there were moments in which we simply couldn’t stop laughing (especially when organizing the “hit on the cute guy” plan, which still has to come into action..it’s just a matter of time).

Sunday 30

Bruce took Olivia and me to a trip in Marinborough, an area famous for its extension of vineyards and green fields. We had to drive for an hour or so but the trip itself was astonishing, with panoramas that alternated sea and green mountains. Our first stop was Ata Rangi, where I had my very first wine tasting experience. I have to admit, I don’t know much about wine, but after watching Sideways with Bruce, I got very excited at the idea of getting a taste of different wines, with the sole purpose of feeling the differences among them, and understanding which go better with my palate. Turns out my favorites are the Pinot, especially the Pinot Gris.

Our second stop was in another vineyard, where we had lunch. Sublime cooked salmon over ratatouille, topped with a bit of lemon creamy sauce…simply amazing. They also served us fresh bread with olive oil dipping (which tastes a bit different from ours but still delicious) and a mix of seeds: you’re supposed to dip the bread in the oil first, so that the seeds will stick to the soggy bread….mhhh all so yummy! We had a table in the balcony and the view was simply breathtaking. After lunch we went to Greytown for a walk. We walked up and down the main street, full of little cafés and antique shops. I had an interesting conversation with a woman working in an Indian clothing store. We talked about traveling, cultural differences, and even though the conversation was delightful she did underline the fact that I should lose my American accent. Her attitude towards it was a bit annoying, but apart from that I really enjoyed my 10 minutes in the shop 🙂 After the digestive walk we drove home and I fell asleep.

Monday 31

When I woke up the wind was blowing so hard that I though it would take the rooftop away, but nothing alike happened so it was all good 🙂

First thing I went to Bruce’s office and got my resume printed out, a longer one to leave in agencies and a shorter one for waitressing positions. Then I went to the New Zealand Bank and set up my account. It was so easy, really! A guy named Kyle did it all for me and the whole process took about 10 minutes. Paperwork? 2 sheets total, and the assistant told me I could contact him any time via phone or email for any question. I was astonished, this is like the opposite of what would happen in Italy! After that was sorted out, I walked around the city, leaving my resumes in Saatchi & Saatchi, Clemenger BBDO, and in 4 restaurants: 2 Italian ones, an Indian one (where Bruce’s brother-in-law works) and a South American one.

And here is another demonstration of how talking to random people sometimes help. Exiting Clemenger BBDO building, I ran into a Mexican 60ish years old dude. I mean, I heard somebody speaking Spanish so I just started talking to him. I told him that I was looking for a waitressing position and he suggested I left my resume in a South American restaurant called Estadio. Well I did and guess what? They’ve been the first ones to call me back and I have a tryout shift this afternoon (Thursday)! Yayyy!

Then I went to the Tai Papa Museum, the cultural symbol of Wellington. It’s like a natural history museum, that provides a view of NZ flora and fauna, and hosts the body of the biggest squid ever found! It’s free but very well kept and modern, with a lot of interactive points and activities for kids. 2nd random meeting of the day: 2 French guys, doing an internship at the French Chamber of Commerce. One of them was about to go back to Europe, but I exchanged numbers with he other one, nice move Benny! They’re really nice guys and Tuesday night we met up with a bunch of other people and went to a Jam session in a bar called Fringe. More info later on.

Going back to Monday, after Tai Papa I met up with Emily, a colleague of Bruce’s that had previously worked in an advertising agency. We went for coffee on the waterfront and she gave me some pretty good tips on agencies or design studios I could contact, and gave me a general overview of the advertising sector in New Zealand. Basically most business in Wellington revolves around government, which is also the biggest client for advertising agencies here. Auckland is bigger and might have better opportunities, but the situation is more competitive there, so it’s good that I started the hunting over here. We had a very nice chat, cos both of us share the same passion for traveling and above all interest in the communication and marketing sector. It was like talking to a mentor, but one who’s actually younger that me. From what I see, people start their career after their bachelor’s degree, doing their masters later on. I left Emily on the waterfront and went home, but not before having a chat with the funniest Indian guy ever, who works in a food store not far from home. I bought some groceries and then spent the night watching Love Actually.

Tuesday 1

The day started in total randomness. I went running (for real this time), then back home, showered, used the internet..that sort of stuff. I went to an internet café to upload my files cos Bruce’s home computer didn’t read anything, but the moment I sat in front of the PC I received a message from the Mac Store, where I had to give my dear Mr White cos it wouldn’t charge.. I just left the internet café, went to the Mac store, and found out that I had to buy new batteries! More than $ 200 burnt just like this…oh well it’s not like I had a choice…I also received a call from Estadio, the South American restaurant, and went there for an interview. As written above, I have a trial shift later in the afternoon. Both the place and people sent me good vibes and I trust it’ll go well! Fingers crossed!

AU REVOIR, MONTPELLIER!

It’s 01.02 p.m. and I’m actually pretty tired, but I want to drop a few lines before going to sleep, since the next two days are going to be very intense. I’m graduating on Thursday and I have to finish up the ppt presentation of my research paper and rehearse the oral exposition of it. I hope it will be easier now that I’m back, with actual internet connection at home and no crazy fetes/diners montpellierains to go to…

 

I’ve arrived at home less than 2 hours ago actually, surviving a 12 hour train ride from Montpellier to Milan (4 trains total). Yesterday I had the last beers at Robin Hood with my pals and then slept at J. & D.’s place. The guys were so kind to take me to the train station this morning and be my “footmen”, carrying my luggage all round Mtp. We had breakfast at Paul’s by the gare and then, right when we were about to walk to the platform..we saw that the train was at least 1 hour late! This meant that I had 99% of probability of missing all the other connections (which indeed happened), but after a few “merde, damn it!”, we decided to take a stroll in the city center. At 11.30 my train finally left and, well, the moment of sadness I had feared for a few days finally arrived. Thinking of Montpellier, all the happiest and craziest moments there and of how hard had been to say goodbye to all my friends there..

 

Well, life goes on, gotta do what you gotta do, and I have lots to do, at least until the end of the week (then if I only had money I could totally go back to Mtp cos there’s not much to do here for me in December).

 

Any-who, as I said before all connections were ratées, but I still managed to make it here. The delay sucked also cos today (I mean, yesterday, Monday) it was my dad’s birthday and, supposed to arrive at 9 p.m., we had planned to go out for dinner and to the movies together…oh well we moved it to the next days.

 

 

 

December 14

 

This is my last entry about Montpellier…

 

A significant part of my experience there were the language exchange meetings at The Bookstore. They were held twice a week and were a perfect opportunity to practice foreign  languages with people from different countries. I started going there after my French course ended, desperately looking for people to practice French with. What I found was a nice, laid back atmosphere, a desire to meet, to share, to talk with perfect strangers while eating a muffin or drinking some chocolat chaud. I went there like 10 times and made quite a few friends. I actually wish I had started going there earlier, both for the language and for the people.

 

I have no-one to practice French with now, and I know I’m slowly loosing it. I should start reading stuff in French and watching videos, but I’ve been so busy that I barely have time for myself.

In fact, the week after my graduation I was called by an agency (those who recruit hostess to attend conferences or give away flyers), who needed a girl to wrap presents in a jewelry in a mall. The job lasted till Dec 24 and would start the day after (it was an emergency replacement for a girl that had dropped-out).

I took it of course, and now I’m super-busy, mostly because it takes me 40 minutes to go there and even more to come back (end-of-the-day traffic jam). Oh well.. no problem since it gives me smth to do and some money!

 

Some friends of mine are coming from the US to spend Christmas/New Year’s eve together, and I know wel’ll have a wonderful time!

 

Yesterday I also bought plane tickets to New Zealand! On January 26 another adventure will begin, along with new blog entries.

 

Peace to everyone

 

Benny