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B-day party e postumi

This is a very random post, neither proofread nor thoughtfully written. It’s just words pouring out of my hands. I’m sitting at Mc Donald’s, which has become sort of a second house for me, since my connection at home still sucks. Oh well, as long as they don’t kick me out….I put an empty box of fries that my friend bought earlier this afternoon next to my laptop as an escamotage..I hope it works!

The week started at 08.00 am, when Eddie, a Mexican friend crushing at my place for a few days, went off for a job interview. We were all so excited for him (and a bit jealous too, cos I can’t find anything), but his knowldege of the french language was too low to obtain the job…it sucks, but a nice 1€ beer night at Aussie Bar will cheer him up! As for me, I left at 9.30 with the intention of registering for library card, but the office was closed. Asking around and riding my bike in the area of Port Marianne I discovered the faculties of Law and Economics and in particular their fantastic, quiet library, with plugs for computers everywhere! I managed to get some studying done, both with my paper for Uni and with some french vocab. (words related to kitchen and food). At about 5 pm I joined Eddie at McDo and when he left he gifted me with some chips and their useful red box 🙂

Last Friday, Oct 15, it was my birthday and we celebrated with a nice dinner (sushi and pasta with pesto sauce), followed by a huge house party, which I remember only in part. Lots of people, vodka, chips, music, fun! A guy left his jacket, another one his sunglasses (they were in the trash actually), and a third one slept on the kitchen floor (which can barely host a 1,80m tall person in fetal position). The following morning wasn’t so great, but after a lazy morning and some episodes of Scrubs I pulled myself together and started the cleaning. Apart from the bottles hidden in the most unpredictable corners of the house the whole process didn’t take more than a couple of hours. Eddie, who helped me out with the cleaning, and I rewarded ourselves with a film at the movies, The Social Network, which I found very interesting and recommend everyone to watch.

Ok the smell of french fries is really revolting now..I gotta leave this place! I’ll pass by a boulangerie and buy a 60 cents baguette (loving French food people!!!).

Peace

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Week 3 and 4 – some traveling

My last two weeks of school have been excellent: major improvement and interesting people!

The third week has been all-involving because there were only two students in class, a Swiss girl and me => active participation 100% and lots of speaking. During my fourth and last week we were a bigger group in class but topics were also more complex and we covered quite a few grammar units, which is very good for my learning process. I can affirm to have the basics now, both in terms of grammar and oral skills. Now it’s time to practice them, with lots of conversation and exercises: I’ll basically lock myself up in the library or use Mc Donald’s Wi-Fi while drinking one of those semi-coffees in paper cups.

The highlights of the past two weeks have been my trip to Sète, a little town on the seaside some 15 min away(by train) from Montpellier, and my trip to London.

The first trip was a one day visit of the city. Veera, Aino (two Finnish girls) and I took it easy and left at noon, but in a little mote than 4 hours we made the tour of city, had lunch in a restaurant (a delicious salad with smoked salmon) and even bought postcards, so at about 16.45 we went back home. It was windy and a bit cold there, but we had a nice walk, great food and visited one of the most “scenicshops I’ve ever seen outside Disney World. The walls were painted in pastel light blue or white, in a style that gave the store a Cinderella-like look. The main products sold were magdalenes (sorts of plum cakes), cookies, and little cracker snaps, and all of which came in different flavors and/or shapes. All items were laid down in rows under a sort of a display case made of glass. The shop sold also chocolate and ice-creams, labeled with its own brand. All the elements of the store, from the walls to the shape of the cookies, created an environment of another place and time, somewhere between Pollyanna and Alice in Wonderland (besides, of course, Cinderella).

Both weeks run very smoothly (school, beer, friends, movies) but at the same time I developed a strong interest for teaching, mostly through my interaction with teachers at the language school and by speaking 4 different languages every day, something that most people might find stressful but that I actually find quite entertaining, like a game. I wrote to an organization that works in Spain and that provides training for its own teachers, sparing me a €1,200 TESOL certificate. With the help of Justine, a Canadian girl from school, I wrote what was probably my most genuine cover letter, and it worked, since the Recruiting responsible sent me back interview dates. Even though the company works in Spain, recruitment was held both in Madrid and London, and I chose the latter for it was easier to reach from MTP. I booked the flight and wrote to Kefa, an Austrian friend implanted in London, who welcomed me with open arms as usual, despite the 3-day notice. Kefa you’re awesome! Every time I go to London (which, for different reasons, happened 4 times in the past year), there are 4 things I ALWAYS do, sort of like a “must”:

1.  Go to a  musical or to a play.

2.  Wander through the streets of Soho (and possibly eat there).

3.  Purchase a bag of baked carrots and beetroots and a portion of lemon cheesecake at Pret a Manger and a Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

4.  Go to Camden Town and wander around the market. Every time I got here I always end up buying what I consider the best present for friends and family: little candles, hand-painted with themes like the british flag, John Lennon or phrases like I Love my Mom. They’re very cute and cost about £2.00 each.

This time I watched Thriller, which was AMAZING! More than an actual plot, the fil rouge of the musical was a chronological excursus of the artist’s career, from Jackson 5’s ABC to  Michael’s greatest hits, leaving out his private life. I was actually a bit disappointed by the lack of a narrative plot and expected at least a little insight on  Michael’s controversial life, but an exceptional casting made up for it. On top of amazing feature dancers, the leading performers either sang exactly like him (similar voice and the the ability to  give intense emotions to the audience) or danced like him. In particular, there was a guy who moved EXACTLY like Michael and he performed both Smooth Criminal and Thriller.

The interview itself went well, although it was only the first step to of a more complex selection process, which encompassed a 2 week training in Madrid for all those who had passed the interview. I thought about it thoroughly, slept over it for a couple of nights, and wrote pros and cons of each scenario. Can’t really explain it all here, but I concluded that my current tasks – finishing my master and reaching a good level of French – are my priorities now and the desire of taking a chance on New Zealand in January is stronger than this job offer. Strict timing, as well as costs, affected my decision too. Conclusion: I’m staying here until the end of November, with or without a job.

I am serene.

Week 2 – la crémaillère

I moved into my flat on Sunday night. The owner’s girlfriend handed me the keys at Place de la Comedie at about 6.30 pm and an hour later I was carrying my heavy suitcase around the city center. Magnus, a German guy from my class, was so kind to answer my last minute, emergency call and walk with me to the house (due to some organizational misunderstandings I couldn’t move into the house earlier that day, and it was getting dark..) so thank you VEEERY much Magnus!

After dinner and a movie, I spent about two hours unpacking my things and making a long list of the things I would have to buy the following day. Since there was no hot water, I started my new life with a cold shower, how great 😉

Monday 20 was my busiest day in Montpellier. After class, I went to the dollar store and to the supermarket, about 2 times each, going back and forth from the shops to my house. There’s no need to list all the things I bought, just imagine what anyone would need in a house fully furnished but with nothing for “daily usage” (well, fortunately there was toilet paper, but that was about it). At about 6 p.m. I made a last stop at the public laundry-room to wash some clothes, the couch-sheet and some other stuff that was screaming for help. At the end of the day, the house seemed much warmer and cozy. It’s a two-room flat, with a nice living room and a simple but cozy bedroom, a little kitchenette and, of course, the bathroom separated form the toilet, in the curious “french way”. Hot water was still not running, I didn’t have (and still don’t) access to the internet and there was a strange smell coming from the shower. The first problem has been taken care of now (thank you Gerard!!!) and it’s just a matter of days before everything is going to work (I hope).

On Thursday afternoon, after class, I got a bike from a professor (thank you so much Elisa), got the wheels fixed, and finally went “grocery” shopping for the forthcoming party. That night, in fact, I finally inaugurated the house, which proved to be perfect for parties (but not so party-proof). There is a french expression to describe the inauguration of a house: “pendre la crémaillère”. Pendre means “to hang” and the crémallère is a hook used to hang the pewter in the fireplace in old houses. I had some people over for dinner, among which Gerard, a guy from Barcelona aka the Mojito Master. At about 11pm there were 20 people in my house and the living room had turned into a disco (a pink, oriental, flame-shaped lamp along with the right music did the job). I wasn’t worried about the noise because that afternoon I had put a paper on the wall at the entrance informing the fellow-tenants about the party (a professor of mine had told me that the crémaillère was a good and respected reason to make noise, news that had pleasantly surprised me). At about midnight most of the people went to a Panama club and Ana, Gerard and I joined shortly after. However, when we got there we didn’t find any of our friends! Nontheless, we danced for about an hour, and then went back home. It had been a tiring but very fun night 🙂 The following day I found out that our friends didn’t actually make it to the disco and at school it was easy to make a distinction between those who had come to the party and those who hadn’t..the latter had a much sharper look on their faces!

On Saturday morning I went to a mall to hand out some resume, but I’m not sure of how it went…I’m afraid that not giving immediate full availability is a major con, especially in stores like H&M and such, where finding new people is extremely easy. Anyway, I keep looking, never resting, and something will come up. On Saturday night some Spanish friends and I went to a place called Rock Store and danced till 3 a.m., which seems pretty early in “standard party time”, but I was actually feeling utterly tired by the time I reached the house. The following day I went to the beach with some friends, which is a 50 minutes bike-ride from MTP. Too bad the chain of my velo got loose every time I didn’t pedalled, which prevented me also from changing gears, and the saddle was thin and uncomfortable (like those for professional male bikers I guess), so about 110 minutes of bike-ride literally destroyed my butt. Apart from that, it was a very nice day. The ride wasn’t bad at all cos we were 7 people riding all together as a flock, mostly along a bike-track by a river, in the countryside. The little town of Palavis wasn’t too bad either: little restaurants near the port and a fairly wide beach, although we stayed there only for a few hours… the wind was too strong! I think that that evening we all slept tight. It’s Tuesday night and although I don’t have any special anecdotes concerning the past two days I can say that:

A.I switched to the hardest class and am learning a lot, mostly due to the fact that there’s only me and another girl in class, which makes classes more stimulating and involving.

B.This might be my last night alone in the apartment, since Ana, my future flat-mate, is moving in starting from tomorrow night. What a strange sensation. I can’t really imagine living in 2 in such a little apt, but I know that it is going to be just fine and definitely better than living all by myself.

C.Main goal of this week: FIND A JOB!!! Good night world.

24 hours in Finland – August 2010

Aug 10, 11.50 am, finnish sky

Within 30 min the airplane will lend in Helsinki Vantaa airport. Under the clouds, I can already imagine wide expanses of green, contrasting the gray sky (not gray for pollution, only the natural color of a cloudy day).

My trip to Finland started at 4 am, when the i-pod alarm woke me up with some happy song I can’t recall..it must have been a real wake-up song though, cos I woke up with no effort at all despite having slept for a little more than 3 hours..of course the great excitement for the forthcoming adventure played its part!

At 4.30 my mom and I were heading towards Cadorna train station, where I took the Malpensa Express train at 5 am.

First flight: Milan-Monaco. We landed with 20 mins of delay because we had to give priority to a plane with an emergency. Luckily, a bus for those having to catch connecting flights was waiting outside the airplane, so I didn’t enter the airport at all but went straight to the other plane. It was interesting and unrealistic to see the cabin completely empty, all those gray, plastic Lufthansa seats. It gave me the sensation of being in a movie or in an abandoned place. The enchantment was soon broken by people entering and filling up the cabin..

Hearing the emergency instructions in FInnish, along with all the other flight announcements gave me a strange feeling..like hearing a well-known foreign song, once on top of the playlist, after a very long time. The meaning of the words is still unknown, but the sound, the tone and the pitch are so familiar, and make you inevitably smile. And a similar, dejà-vù sensation will affect me once I get to JKL, I imagine..just the thought of it, walking in the wood, by the lake, in the city center, gives me a sense of peacefulness and excitement at the same time.

Aug 11, 11am – Lozzi

Once in Helsinki, I took a train to Espoo, where Leszek works, and we had lunch together at a Thai restaurant (I LOVE Thai food!). It was so nice to see him again! Last time we had met it was actually in Spain, at the beginning of my 2°Erasmus. It’s amazing how people’s paths cross in space and time in such an unpredictable (but often plannable) way, and having friends worldwide enhances these chances exponentially. My like is a continuous living proof of it. Anyway..unfortunately my meeting with Les was very short (his lunch break), but very intense, focused of updates, and Im glad to know he’s doing well. “Leszek, thanks again for lunch and see you soon(ish)..!”

A 6.30 hour train ride from Helsinky to Jyvaskyla gave me time to enjoy the beauty of the untouched, Finnish Nature, where raws of green pine-trees alternated with even greener meadows and sky-coloured lakes. It aslo gave me time to rest, read, listen to music and get bored. Seeing JKL red train station woke me up from my mental numbness and filled me with excitement and expectation. Expectation of dejà-vues and of seeing everything how I had left it more than 2 years ago.

Sarianna met me at the train station (no need to say how excited was I to see her as well!) and after a cup of coffee at Coffee House we reached her house at Kortepohja. EVERYTHING, from the short walking through the city center to the bus ride, gave me the same excitement one feels when doing something the for the first time, and the same sensation was caused by the fact that I HAD ALREADY DONE all those things, a long time ago.

Arriving in Kortepohja caused a rush of overlapping memories in my mind, on top of which numerous runs in the cold to get to Rentukka for the Stammtisch parties, with only a t-shirt on to avoid the line for the cloakroom.

After dinner (riisi Kaarjalampirrakka, my faaaavorite Finnish food!) Sarianna and I went back to keskusta (city center) and met up with William, his friend Mikko, Leila and Gintas, a member of our buddy group (we were joined later on by another Mikko and a friend of him). 3 members of the buddy group assembled after such a long time! We had a drink at Passion, then went to Katze, a very familiar place to me, where we used to jam most Sunday nights (me as a spectator…). I knew most of the people and for a little bit it felt like being back on the golden times of my erasmus, with a cold Lonkero and the nice cool breeze.

The following day, early in the morning, I took a walk in the Kortepohja area. The plan was to walk through the woods, reach the lake behind the buildings, maybe even reach Laajavouri, but there wasn’t eanough time, so I just walked the perimenter Rentukka-Building M (up to the third floor, in front of my old apt door) -Supermarket-Sarianna’s house, taking pictures every few minutes(/seconds). After hugging Sarianna good-bye I headed towards the city center, suitcase in one hand and camera in the other. The bus passed right by me, but there was no way I could make it to the bus stop on time, and waiting for another hour wasn’t really worth it, so I dragged my bags through the city, slowly walking my way to the train station. I passed by the big K mart down the road, then walked uphill on the street I used to struggle on riding my bike (laaazy butt) and then downhill again towards the university. (The whole path can be traced on the sequence of pictures, taken basically every other minute).

I am in Lozzi now, sipping a 1€ kavi. WHen I arrived here the place was almost empty, except for some Finnish couples having an early lunch (at 11am we normally have late breakfast, but for Finnish people this is a plausible time to have early lunch). The place is gradually filling up now, and there’s a group of foreign people on the table next to mine. What a weird sensation..it feels like the end of the movie L’Auberge Espagnole, when Xavier sees a group of Erasmus students and starts smiling with that happy but sort of melancholic look. If any of those students sitting next to me turned his/her face he/she would have seen the same stupid look drawn on my face, probably thinking I’m a freak or smth. Btw, where did we use to leave the tray at?

18.30 – Helsinki Vantaa airport

I walked through the city center taking pictures of basically everything that raised memories of more or less special moments of the Erasmus time there: the library, where we spent a surprisingly amount of time, the Chinese restaurant where my buddy arranged the first meeting, the church and the little park where we used to lie down during our last, sunny days there, the pizzeria-kebab where we used to get giant pizzas at the end of long dancing nights at Kharma, and so on..sillier the episode, stronger the memory.

FInally, after one last Karjalampiirakka and a huge, warm PULLA, I finally stepped on the train. Again, 6 hours spent on napping, thinking absent-mindedly about the past 24 hours, half-asleep mood.

In about 1 hour the plane will take off once more..destination: New Delhi

Athens, days 3 and 4

This is the last day of my trip. So sad I had to leave Greece, but I’m happy we got to see the most important places, the main monuments and museums. Yesterday morning we walked around the city center (and went back to the flea market…I got myself a skirt and a scarf/hat!). Then, at about 1.30pm, we went to the National Archeological Museum. Expositions there include a great variety of artifacts, which range from the Prehistoric period to the last decades of Ancient Greek culture. We spent there 2.30 hours, leaving the museum at about 4pm. We were so tired from our long walks (+1 hour jogging at 7.15am) that we went through the last rooms pretty fast. On our way back we walked around the area close to Omonia square (right between the hotel and the museum) cos there were still some riots. They were not as bad as the day before, but we still got a bit scared and were extra-careful on the whole walk back. After a 2.30 hour nap we had an “aperitivo” on the last floor of the hotel… and we ended up having dinner there too (the restaurant we had seen in the morning, close to the fish market, was closed). We had very good fish with veggies, not bad as a last supper in Greece! At about 10pm I met up with Alexandros, a Greek friend of mine who had spent a semester in Milan last year. We had a couple of drinks, in the Gasi/Gazi area first, and then where we had walked that morning, the uptown shopping area. It was so much fun! He drove me around the city, and I have to say that Athens is very pretty by night, all lit up and full of cool bars, each of them with its own peculiarities. (See pictures attached). I confirmed that all the trash on the road was mainly due to the strike of the garbage men, and told me that Athens+suburbs reach about 5 million people (many Greeks move there to study or to work)!

This morning we woke up at 5.50am (3 hours of sleep)…flight at 7.30, and then breakfast in a nice cafè. In the afternoon I found the strength to go to the craft fair. It is a very big event in Milan, taking place every year for about a week at the beginning of December. Every country from all over the world has its own stands, selling typical products. You can find everything, from kimonos to a great variety of food courts. I spent there about 3 hours, and then I finally went home. C ya next time, Greece!

Athens, day 2

Here we are again!

Today we went back to the Acropolis. It was an amaaazing experience! The view, the buildings (I mean, what is left of them)..you imagine how it used to be and just have no words to describe the emotion you feel when you  see those columns, those statues…a priceless experience. There have been some riots in the city, in memory of a guy that had been “murdered by the cops” last year. We managed to stay away from those areas, but were a bit scared (but at the same time reassured) by the huge number of policemen on the road, all over the city center! We also went to Licabetto (this is the Italian word for it), a viewpoint on top of a high hill with an amazing view. Pictures will describe this better. We also went to the flea market, an area full of little shops and stands, selling pretty much everything, from old watches to fajke Prada purses to military equipment. It got very windy so towards 5.30pm we went back to the hotel and took a nap (I had also run in the morning and was feeling very tired). In the evening, after getting an aperitivo at the lounge bar in the hotel, we went out in the Plaka neighborhood for dinner. Nice place (I can’t recall the name now, but I’ll write it in the next entry), all white and light blue, between a lighthouse and a sober christmas house.

I’m about to go to bed now. It’s been an amazing day! One more and then back to Milan. Oh well…seize the moment!

Athens, day1

It’s Saturday, Dec 5. I’m about to go to bed, but first I want to share with you what I did today in Athens. Of course  didn’t hear the alarm, so when my dad came to pick me up (I live with my mom) I somehow managed to get ready in about 5 minutes. Then we picked up his girlfriend (who also hadn’t heard the alarm), and then, off to Malpensa! We left at about 10am and arrived there at about 1pm (2pm local time). After dropping our stuff at the hotel (Fresh Hotel, a nice, sort of kitsch colorful hotel, I recommend it) we walked to the Acropolis. Unluckily, it was closed (it closes at 3pm), so we ended up walking around it. It was still a beautiful sight, but nothing compared to the opportunity to walk among the ruins, breath the atmosphere of ancient Greece. We’ll go there tomorrow morning. Afterwards, we went to the Acropolis museum, which is a modern building, perfectly structured and designed to host what is left of the statues and other findings belonging t the Acropolis.  Go there if you get the cance, you’ll be positively surprised!

We had dinner in the area called Plaka, which is partly a promenade and is full of little shops and restaurants. The food was good, but we were so tired that after dinner we headed back to the hotel right away.

So here I am!

I’ll write more tomorrow evening!