Monday, September 24, 2012

The European Union seen from Brighton

Hi there, or should I say "Saluton"? (= "hello" in Esperanto)

One of the fields I'm most interested in is the European Union, a topic that is getting more and more interesting as the crisis goes on. It is also particularly interesting for me because I have the opportunity to see how two different nations (Italy and the United Kingdom) cope with it. That's one of the reasons I've recently started to engage with the notions of identity, in such a vast reality and diverse as the EU undoubtedly is.

Italian people are generally quite happy with the EU. No, they are not necessarily happy, but they acknowledge it as an important part of the identity. It's always been there, for better or for worse (and, generally, it's been for better, though not always). Italians ALWAYS complain, about everything, and they obviously complain about the EU, too. But they complain about it as a teenager would complain about his parents: they don't leave him the freedom he would like, but deep inside he still loves them and generally does what they say. A look at the Eurobarometers can easily show this inclination.

The UK, on the other hand, is the total opposite. British people not only dislike the EU for what they feel are its "impositions", but they don't even acknowledge being part of Europe. I know not all British are like this, but that's the feeling I get when talking to many of my fellow students, even those who study Politics with me. Speaking metaphorically again, it's a bit like the EU was a distant relative that has the habit of always come into your house and criticize you. Your parents keep telling you that you have to put up with him, so you do, but if it was for you'd lock him out of the house and never let him in again. It's really, really weird for me, because it's a conception of the EU that doesn't make sense.

What's the perception of the EU in your country, if you are from a EU country? Do you think the UK will ever feel European, or do you think they'll keep on feeling almost like another continent?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Have you ever been to a Japanese wedding?


As you know, I went to Japan and South Korea last year, in March/April. I had always wanted to go, so when my friend Keigo told me he was going to get married in Kyoto at the end of March, I thought...why not? The terrible earthquake and its consequences did not stop me, and it was totally worth it, since I had the chance to see a Japan completely emptied of tourists. For fear of radiations, though, I could only spend one day in Tokyo, instead of the 3 I had planned. I stayed in Osaka instead, further from Fukushima.

Anyway, my friends' wedding was reeeaally interesting. Ok, I didn't understand a word of what they said, but I'm sure it was all interesting! :P 
I was obviously the only "Western" person, so everybody was being really kind. As it's generally unpolite to say "no" when they offer you a drink, I kept saying yes to the beer, the wine and the sake (a famous Japanese alcoholic drink)...Needless to say, the result was me starting to behave as a typical Italian girl who has had a few drinks: talking very loudly, laughing and drinking more. OOOPS!

I managed to take some pictures, though, and to follow the whole ceremony with attention, despite the alcohol. The bride, Risa (which you should actually read "Lisa" - you know how people from the far east find it difficult to pronounce our "r"s), had a beautiful dress and changed into an even more beautiful one around the middle of the afternoon. Give a look at them:

Bride and groom

Me with the newly married couple ^^

The food was all typical, which was great for me. I didn't eat it all, though, either because it was too much or, sometimes, because it was raw fish with too many vegetables ( I hate veggies!). 

This is how the table was set at the beginning...luckily they had a fork and a knife for me!

I remember this one! Miso soup maybe? Veeery nice anyway! ^_^

Nearly at the end of the ceremony, Keigo said a sentence in Italian, thanking me for being there. VERY nice of him, as I hadn't understood anything till then. :P I was sitting at a table with a Taiwanese couple (Ivan and Tiong Wan), though, so I could speak English with them.

Did you know that it's common, in Japanese weddings, to give the couple some money in an envelope, as wedding gifts? In Italy you generally give presents, often things that they'll need in their new house (although the habit is changing now that many couples live together before getting married). I personally brought typical Italian stuff, and I think it was appreciated...If you are going to a Japanese wedding, I recommend you do the same! Japanese people are generally very interested in other cultures.

I'll leave you with this last wedding picture, with Keigo's friends, holding some hammers used during the ceremony. Actually, they even called me to use one of them at a certain can immagine my surprise when I heard them calling my name, after a long speech in Japanese...It was fun anyway! XD

Sayonara people,
Stay Human,


P.S.= The title is taken from Gogol Bordello's song "Have you ever been to an American wedding?". Gogol Bordello is my fav listen to them if you have the chance!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Finally back

Hi all!
Really sorry for not posting anything for aaages but I have been without internet connection for some period, then busy with the job and then again without internet connection. Now I'm here though! Moved into my new flat, got a chair (no other furniture yet, so I'm sleeping on an inflatable mattress) and finally got the internet! Who knew you have to do so many things when you move into a new flat by yourself??
One of the things I had to do was to ask Southern Water to put a meter in my flat. Did you know that most of the houses here don't have meters for their water? I think it's crazy. It's something that you NEVER see in Italy. Ok, it was useful for us last year because the un-metered bill was quite cheap since we were splitting it up among 6 people, but it does encourage waste, doesn't it? Southern Water says on its website that they've noticed that, by installing meters in the houses, people use 5% water less. THANK YOU! *ironic mode* Plus, it's not fair on people who don't live in that house at times (like me when I go back to Italy for the holidays).
Well, I've done most of what I to do now and I can relax a bit more, though University starts on Thursday. Last week I managed to spend some time in Cambridge with a Libyan friend of mine. He is from Benghazi so he has lived the revolution in person...we had so much to talk about! As you might know, I'm very interested in Middle Eastern politics and it's extremely interesting to see the point of view of someone who lives in another reality, with different medias from ours. 
Maybe I'll write more of what we spoke about in another post, I've got to go now. Sitting on the floor to write on the laptop on the chair isn't that comfortable!
Bye :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm trying to get a hold on this


There's a new song on Italian radios these days that I'm totally loving! It's the No Doubt's single "Settle Down". I have to confess I didn't know the band before hearing this song on my fav radio station, RDS, but I promise I'll listen to something else from them soon. 
I couldn't actually understand all the lyrics at first, but I fell in love with the lively rithm and the voice of the singer (which apparently is Gwen Stefani - and I've always liked her - but I didn't know it before starting to write this post :P ). 

When, today, I looked the words up on the net, they surely didn't disappoint me!

As a matter of facts, I'm kinda trying to get over a horrible period of my life, so lyrics like:
I'm fine (and nothing's gonna knock this girl down)
I'm hella positive for real
I'm all good
No I'm fine (and nothing's gonna knock this girl down)
It's kind of complicated that's for sure
But you can see it my eyes, you can read on my lips
I'm trying to get a hold on this
And I really mean it this time
seem to be quite a good fit for me. Not only that, they made me think that getting over bad periods in life IS actually possible, you just have to be positive and get down to it! Not easy, I know, but somehow manageable. 

My father, the other day, said to me: "Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta" (="Help yourself, then God will help you"), meaning that I shouldn't just sit around waiting for some external help. If you believe in God, you might believe that He will help you, but you surely know that you have to start doing something about it yourself.

Well, I think this will go on my list of "songs-to-listen-to-when-i'm-depressed", it just puts me in such a good mood! :D 

I hope you guys, on the other hand, are all doing well and enjoying life!
Even if you don't need some musical push to get on with your life, do listen to this great song and tell me what you think about it :)


Monday, July 23, 2012


Hello boys and girls!

A girl and her mother came to the bar today. The girl spoke some Italian, but seemed to be more comfortable with her English, especially when she asked me what the cakes were made of. They sat at a table and started talking a very strange language, so I asked them where they were from. Well, they came from Israel, and the young girl had spent 6 months in Torino for an Erasmus. We started talking about Italy, and about Israel. They said that their country has everything (mountains, sea, big cities, desert, etc...), a bit like Italy (well, apart from the desert), only in "smaller" size (there's only one high mountain, which gets very crowded when it snows, and few beaches, for instance). Apparently you can drive from the far end North of Israel to the South in maximum eight hours. (And the distance between the Eastern and the Western borders is a lot shorter than the distance between North and South!)

Apart from when they talked about Palestine as a part of Israel, which I don't agree with, they really made me want to go there! I'm looking at the flight prices right now, just for curiosity, and it seems to be quite cheap: around 250 euros, which is less than 200 pounds, with a direct EasyJet flight. That's if you want to book for February/March, though: you do have to book quite in advance, otherwise it gets a lot more expensive.
Anyway, as I think I might specialize in the Middle Eastern politics, I'll definitely go there sometimes! 

Needless to say, I don't really approve of Isrealian politics right now, but I have to admit that, in my opinion, it is more of a problem of how the West behaved after the Second World War, deciding to create a Jewish country in the middle of an Arabic area. I do quite understand that for Israel it'd be difficult to behave in a very different way at the moment. Ok, I summarized my thoughts a lot: it's such a difficult topic, it'd take ages to discuss...What do you guys think about it?

Did you know that "Shalom", the word to say "hi" in Jewish, means "peace"? Isn't it interesting how Jews and Arabs use a very similar way to say "hi" (in Arabic it's "Salaam") and, in both languages, it means "Peace", and at the same time they have been fighting against each other for centuries? I know it's a bit naive to say, but I REALLY hope that they two peoples find peace soon.

Well, Shalom for now! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My other passion - baking!

Hi there!

Taking a break from the travel-talking, I'd love to share with you another passion that I've been having since a year and a half...baking! It's weird, because I don't really like cakes (apart from the chocolate one, which I love way too much!). However, I do love the moments when the butter is meltin, I love weighing the flour, and then look at the cake rising in the oven...Also, I looove how they are generally appreciated by all of my friends (yes yes I am THAT good - just kidding, truth is I only bring them the ones that came out well). They're also perfect for when I'm invited to a lunch/dinner: instead of buying the classical bottle of wine, I bring my own-made cake!

The easiest one to bake, and the one which is generally mostly appreciated, is the yoghurt cake. It's simple, and it's loved by everyone. (You'd think the same about the chocolate one, but I do have a friend who doesn't like chocolate, so he doesn't eat that) So, today I am baking a yoghurt cake, which I'll bring to my neighbours and to my collegues here in Cogne tomorrow.

I found my recipe on the net when I decided to start baking, and I changed it slightly through the time, as people gave me advice on how to make it better. With 150 grams of butter and around 250 grams of plain yogurt, it's very tasty but not too heavy on the stomach. I'll post some pictures now, in case you want the actual recipe just ask - I'm not one of those jealous bakers! ;)

The butter is meltin...

Yoghurt added!

Ready to be put into the oven...

and ready to be eaten! :D

My friend Giulio asked me the recipe, but he doesn't seem to be able to make it rise properly. I really don't understand why, and he's kinda convinced I have a secret ingredient I won't tell him...NOT TRUE! I think he's not doing everything properly...One day, we'll bake one together and we'll see! :)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures, and I hope you'll share your baking experiences with me. ^^


Korean Love, part 3 - the food

Anneyong! (if you haven't read my last post on Korea, that means "hi" ;) )

So, today I'm gonna post about South Korea for the last time, and I'm gonna talk about food! YUM! I had only eaten in a Korean restaurant once before going there, and it hadn't been such a good experience because I found it too spicy. I don't like spicy food too much, and I though that was gonna be a big problem in Seoul, as a lot of the Korean food is spicy, but let me reassure you: there's lots to eat even if you don't like spicy.

For example, my favourite dish is Pajeon, which my friend defined as "korean pizza". It's often called "korean-style pancake", because it's actually made with typical pancake mix. There's many variations (like there's many kinds of pizza), but my favourite one is definitely the seafood pajeon:

One of the interesting things about having lunch/dinner in Korea is that you often share the food. It was perfect for me, because I had the chance to try as many things I wanted.
Another dish I loved, for example, was this one:

Unfortunately, I don't remember the name (if there's any Korean reading, do you know it?), but basically, there was a bowl of boiling water, and lots of dishes with many different things (vegetables, meat and noodles), so you could boil whatever you wanted to eat, and add as many sauces you wanted.

I think the most famous Korean food is Kimchi, but I didn't eat it because it's quite spicy. If you do like spicy food, though, remember to try it whenever you're over there. Apparently it's totally worth it! :)

On one evening, I went to the pub with one of my friends, Choi, and I was really surprised to be served these, along with the beer:

In the first picture, there's a korean snack, not very tasty to be honest...but I loved the colours! And yes, they gave us fruit. That's the Korean way! You want to drink beer? Ok, but stay healthy with some fruit! :D I don't know about you, but fruit is the last thing I expected to be served in a pub, along with the drinks...Needless to say, I LOVED IT!

Now now now, I really have to tell you about another korean snack, which I enjoyed much less. I was happily walking with another friend, Soo, when I saw this:

Larvas! >__< Horrible, nasty-looking larvas. But they are a popular snack in Korean streets. Apparently, you either love them or hate them, and I'm sorry to say I'll never know, which group I fit in, as I didn't try them...I just couldn't! My friend Soo, though, got a plastic cup full of them and, apparently, enjoyed them very much! Bah, that is something that doesn't make me a good traveller, I know, but what can I say? Larvas? I mean, really?! ;)

Let me leave you with a, I suppose, sweeter note...Look at these yummy rice cakes in a shop:

I bet you all want to go to Seoul now? :P
I hope you enjoyed this short report about my Korean week. Seriously, head down there if you have the chance, totally worth it!

Bye bye!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Some more pictures of Seoul ^^

As promised, I've asked my korean friends if I could post some pictures with them, and here they are...hope you enjoy!

At a restaurant in the university area, with Choi

In the city centre, with Doyle, Yeh Jee, Anna and Deok Hoe

Did you know you can still smoke in restaurants/pubs in Korea? 
(at the restaurant with Jin)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Korean Love, part 2 - the people and the language

Hi there!

The weekend has been great here, as far as the weather is concerned, so it's been mad at work. Yesterday I even had to stay for an hour longer, cause at 5, when I generally finish, there were still too many people to leave the bar to the other workers. Today, however, I didn't work cause the owner (of the bar) had a medical examination, so I had a relaxing day.

And here I am, as promised, to speak to you, again, about South Korea. Today I'd like to tell you more about the Korean people I met in my life, and the language, which I kinda wanted to learn, but I gave up (...for now!) because there's hardly any books to help me!

Anyway, Korean people are generally very nice and friendly. Yes, they are, like all Asians (of the far-East part, like China, Japan, etc...) basically shy. It takes a short time, however, to make them feel more comfortable...and then, they'll become amazing friends! When I was in Seoul, I met all those, of my friends, who were there and had some time. They took me out for dinner, or drinks, and they seemed really eager to show me, and to explain to me, their culture. I have to thank them if I tried so many different dishes, so many weird drinks (I remember one which seemed like milk, but had a little bit of gas in it and, obviously alcohol. I did not like that one, but somehow I got pretty tipsy with it! XD) and I visited so many places around the city. So, thanks thanks thanks! Or, as they say,  고마워이오(=komawoyo)! ;)

Ok, it seems like I'm trying to advertize a trip to South Korea, and it kinda is like that, only I don't get paid for it! :P
A little tip, to make Korean friends, is to let them know that you're interested in their culture. Generally few people know anything about Korea, so for a Korean person, finding someone who says "hi" to them in their language (안녕  = 'anneyong') is a big, nice, surprise! Also, one of the reasons they might look shy at first is that they are never much comfortable with their English. Contrary to Italian people, who start talking even if they don't really know how to properly speak the language, they won't say a sentence if they are not sure of its grammar. Obviously all this is a big, fat generalization, not ALL Koreans are like this, but surely many of them! :)

As I said, I find the language very, very interesting. You might think it's incredibly difficult, like Japanese or Chinese, but you're wrong. I mean, its grammar might be very hard (I never got round to studying it), but its alphabet is composed of only 24 letters (might be a few more that I'm missing, but not many!), composed in strange ways. Yes, learning how to compose them takes a while, but once you do that, you can read and write anything you want!
My name, for example, is "Caterina", and it's very easy to write in Korean, as it is composed of 4 syllables of 2 letters each. So,it'll be ka=카, te=태, ri=리 (which actually is 'li' as korean doesn't have the 'r' sound), na=나. 가태리나!

Well, I hope I didn't bore you today, with all this talking and no pictures. If I get the OK from my friends I'll post some pictures of them later on, but for now I'll say goodbye!


P.S.: If you're Korean, I hope you didn't get offended by anything I said, and I'd like to hear you opinion, as an "insider" :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Korean Love, part 1 - Seoul

Hi everyone! :)

Good news: I started working! I was really getting a bit bored, as the weather kept being horrible and I couldn't do anything else apart from surfing the net and reading (I finished two books, and I'm halfway through the third,Tolkien's The Hobbit). So, starting to work was a good way to make my summer life a bit more hectic...A lot more, actually, as there were lots of people today and I had to run around with the tray for 8 hours, no break!
Anyway, I'm relaxing now. After writing this, I'll have dinner and then I think I'll head straight to bed, as I didn't sleep much last night. I'm such an exciting young girl, ain't I? :P

My sister met a Korean guy yesterday and, as she knows I love everything about South Korea, she asked me some information. I thought it could be interesting for you to read about my experience of the country (I went there last year, in March, for a week), but there's so much to say, I think I'll divide it into three posts.

So, today I'd like to talk about the only city that I could visit, Seoul. Hopefully I'll go there again sometime soon, and I'll visit more!
However, Seoul is very interesting, and it's perfectly able to keep you busy for a whole week!
The first thing I noticed was how the streets were extremely large. Although there's skyscrapers everywhere, you don't really feel suffocated, like you could feel in Tokyo, because they are far away from each other, separated by these large streets, like in this picture:


What I found most fascinating, though, was how the modern and the cultural mixed together. Walking among skyscrapers, it is not uncommon to find a little, old temple waiting for you around the corner. You're constantly reminded that South Korea, although it developed quickly in the last decades, still remains attached to its tranditions. Perhaps, then, modernity and cultural values can go hand in hand, contrary to what many think?

 The one you see in the picture is an area of the city with lots of traditional korean houses (apparently VERY expensive), and I swear to you, it is not far from the most modern buildings! (in fact, you can see them in the background)

For the whole week, I stayed in a hostel near the university area (well, apparently there's many universities in Seoul, but that area seems to be considered the one where most students live and go out). I walked around it one evening, after having had dinner with a friend, and I was amazed at how lively it gets at night time! There was a market going around its streets, selling typical korean food, but also jewellery, clothes, accessories, etc...(normal stuff you see in a street market, really) There were street artists, and there were people, people everywhere! I think you can see it quite well in this pic:

Well, there'd be a lot more to say about Seoul, but I got a feeling this post is getting a bit too long. So I'll just leave you with some pictures that I'm sure will give you a feeling of how amazing that city is!

Seoul's tower, the tallest one in Asia and the 3rd in the world

A view of Seoul from a skyscraper

Me in Gyeongbokgung Palace, beaauutiful!

I hope you're all enjoying your summer! :)


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Nature in the Alps

Goodmorning everyone! :)
The weather is slightly better today...There's some sun here and there, although it's still cloudy overall.
I thought I should explain better what I meant when I was speaking about the wonderful wildlife of these mountains, yesterday. 
Last week I went on a two-day trek with my mother: we left from Valnontey (a small fraction of Cogne, at around 1700 metres above the sea level) and we walked until Rifugio Vittorio Sella, a mountain hut at around 2600 metres. 
It's one of my favourite trips around here... maybe my favourite, actually! I guess it's mainly because it's all inside the National Park, so the chances of seeing beautiful animals are extremely high. Also, the hut is very nice, located in a very, very beautiful valley.

The one you can see in the picture is the hut...beautiful location, isn't it?
Well, we had a restorative dinner and spent the night there. In the morning we left for another short trek (around 1 hour, up until 2900 metres), to another valley where, generally, you can easily see groups of ibexes ("ibex" is what the dictonary gives me for the italian "stambecco"). We weren't so lucky this time, because, apparently, it was too hot and they had gone even higher up. However, we did get the chance to see a few of them, look at how "majestic" they are:

Ibexes weren't the only animals we saw... All around us uncountable marmots were running and sunbathing. Marmots look really cute, but I got near enough to see their nails once, and let me tell you... they are scary! 
Anyway, look at how nice this one looks, enjoying the sun on a big rock: *__*

On the way back, we were so lucky that a chamois crossed the path in front of us and then stood there, inside the wood, to check out out movements. We just took a couple of pictures and quickly left, we certainly didn't want to disturb it!

Well, I hope you got an idea of the natural heaven I am in. It's not like I see all these animals all the time, but it just takes a couple of hours of trek to see as many as you like!
Bye bye! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Hi everyone, welcome to my blog! As you can see in my profile, i'm a 21 year old girl who was born Italy, but is now living in Brighton, UK. In this blog I'd like to talk mainly about travels. I have travelled quite a lot, and I've got lots of plans to travel even more, so I'd love to share my experiences with you, and maybe to give and receive tips!

At the moment, I'm writing from Cogne, a small town in the mountainous region of Valle d'Aosta, in Italy. Around 1500 people live here, but Cogne is a popular holiday destination, especially for people who love trekking in the mountains. I definitely recommend it! Among the many places in the Alps that I've visited, it's my favourite, for its landscapes and its wildlife (part of the town is in the National Park called "Gran Paradiso", like the high mountain it contains), so animals and plants are protected.

As you can see from this picture, today is a very cloudy day. Although it's a shame I can't go out, I have to admit that, for me, mountains become very fascinating when it's raining, with the very typical smell of wet grass.

The reason why I'm here is that I'm going to work as a waitress in a bar for 2 months. My family has had a holiday house here for almost 10 years now, and I found a summer job last year as a waitress in a bar. I enjoyed it very much, so when they asked me to work there again this year, I accepted. More money to travel!
I'm kinda planning a trip around the South of Italy in September, with my English friend Laura, but we haven't talked dates yet, so we'll see! :)

Bye for now, let me know if you've ever been anywhere in the Italian Alps, or if you're planning a trip around there, I'd be happy to hear your experiences!

Stay human