Summer poem

It’s too hot to think.
Too hot to move.
Too hot to eat.
Too hot to sleep.
Too hot to write.
Too hot.

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Italian pride

There are some things you should never offend when it comes to the Italian culture and the first one of them is pizza. This is where McDonald’s fell. As you might know, this year’s EXPO is in Milan. It’s theme is Feeding the planet, Energy for Life. So, as it is somewhat related to food, McDonald’s has become one of it’s main sponsors. Recently it has come to my attention that the company released a TV commercial, that I think was not really thought through. Check it out yourselves:

An Italian kid that prefers Happy Meal over pizza? That’s a blasphemy (it’s already big coming from me, imagine the outrage of Italians). I mean, generally food at McDonald’s fa schifo, but even if it doesn’t, it could NEVER be better than a true Italian pizza. McDonald’s, what were you thinking? Of course, it was not necessary to wait long for a response:

It’s even more hilarious because of the language – the kid is speaking in the napoletano dilect (Napoli is of course the place where pizza was born). Dear McDonald’s, everyone makes mistakes, but this was just stupid…

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Thanks to Costruirecollego for the scoop!

Volunteer’s money

One of the main things I was worried about before starting my EVS in Italy was whether the money I’m going to receive from the project is going to be sufficient. ‘Will I have to save on food?’, ‘Will I be able to buy meat only from time to time?’, ‘Will there be any chance of travelling?’ — those were some of the questions I was asking myself.

Eventually I also found some people online, ex-volunteers who did their EVS in Italy. I was mainly looking for Poles, cause in this way the information they would provide would be more adequate for me. One of the people I contacted told me, that I would probably have to save some money and be careful with it, that I won’t probably be able to eat meat every day (laugh all you want, but for a Polish person, meat is essential). Fortunately it’s not THAT important for me to eat meat each day for lunch (we don’t have evening dinner in Poland).

Anyway, to keep it short: a lot depends on your own needs, because I for example am not a person that goes out so much, so I don’t spend money on drinks, eating out etc. That makes it easier for me to save for other things and small joys, like nicer food from time to time. Also, you have to remember that not every volunteer receives the same amount of money each month. First of all it depends on the country you do your EVS in and then you have to also remember that different organisations handle money differently. Some will provide you accomodation that is already paid for, some will give you money and make you manage it yourself. Some will give you the full amount of money for the month, some will give you less, because for example you’re having lunches and dinners at your organisation every day (happens mostly when you work in retirement homes, refugee houses and so on).

If you want to know more about the amounts of money for each country you can do an EVS in, you will find it in the official Erasmus+ guide (available in various languages). And if you have more specific questions about how it really is for a volunteer in Italy (or in Bologna, more specific), you can write me in the comments or contact me via the Facebook page.

How things are done around here

You all probably know at least a couple of stereotypes about Italy and Italians. We all do. Not all of them are true (as it often goes with stereotypes), but some definitely yes. Like for example the one about Italians being always late. I guess for them it’s fine as long as everyone else is late too. In this case even though you agree with other people to meet at, let’s say 20.00, no one will come earlier than 20.30-21.00 anyway, so you don’t have to either.

It's middle of December and they are sitting outside... Maybe they agreed to meet in November and they are late?
It’s middle of December and they are sitting outside… Maybe they agreed to meet in November and they are late?

But what is still a bit shocking and annoying (but you know, there’s this moment when something that pisses you off changes into something that makes you roll on the floor laughing) is that also institutions base on that stereotype. Simple example: the Italian National Erasmus+ Agency still hasn’t paid to my host organisation all the money for the project I’m doing here (I’d like to remind that everyone knew since July that this project will take place). So, as a result, my host organisation is paying from their own pocket, so that I have a roof over my head and food in my stomach.

And another hilarious example. The national agency writes on their own website:

Entro un mese dalla data di arrivo, il volontario ha il diritto e il dovere di partecipare alla formazione all’arrivo, che deve essere predisposta dall’Agenzia Nazionale.
(“Within one month from the date of arrival, the volunteer has the right and duty to participate in an on-arrival training which must be arranged by the National Agency.”)

Do you want to know when I’m going to this training? Next week. More than two months after my arrival. Seriously, what can they possibly teach me there right now? After all my adventures with dentists, hospitals, insurance companies and rather incompetent people of any kind, it’s probably me who should be teaching in this course. It’s very likely that I know more about how things are done around here than most of the volunteers who came to Italy in the same period as I did.

But let’s look on the bright side: the course lasts one week and it will take place in a hotel in Rimini, just next to the seaside.

And since I don’t drink coffee and eat rather heavy things for breakfast I just hope they won’t serve only Italian breakfast there…

Sei stanco/a?

One of the first things you get to know when you learn a foreign language is how to greet people and ask them how they are. Typical things that can have a different outcome depending on the country.

For example in Poland you risk hearing a whole bunch of complaints on how the world is unfair, the government sucks, the prices are too high and the salaries too low. Alternatively you might also hear a story of an entire family of the person you asked with a simple jak leci? (“how is it going?”).

In Italy I noticed that once you ask someone come va? in response, except of the customary bene (“good”), you can hear also… sono stanco/a (“I’m tired”). I mean, I can understand this answer if the person is asked in the afternoon/evening, because you have all the right to be worn out after a day of work, but why, WHY do people tell me they are tired in the very beginning of the day? No matter what day of the week it is, what hour, if they actually did something before or just slept until 12pm, they are ALWAYS tired…

Ok, sometimes, if you haven’t slept well or enough, you can feel like that. But if the same person tells me the same thing everyday in the morning, there is something wrong here, seriously.

Dear Italian friends, what do you do, that you are always so tired?