Reflections from a crazy fan

Music is a funny concept. It is such a huge part of what we are as human beings. Since the dawn of time humans have tried to create rhythm, to make music. Music brings people together. It can change your mood from sad to happy, from nostalgic to excited in just a few simple notes.

I have been a fan of U2 for 10 years now. The first time I heard them live I was 15. They had just released their album ‘How to dismantle an atomic bomb’ and ‘Vertigo’ was the song that made me first discover their work. I was a teenager then, going through all the troubles and doubts of a typical teenager. I thought them to be old. My mother’s age to be exact and so old in every sense of the way from a fifteen year old point of you. Anyway all of that didn’t matter. Their music struck me and I was captured.

Last night when Bono walked onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and started to sing my heart skipped a bit. I realised what their music really means to me. I was fifteen when ‘Vertigo’ came out. I had a completely different life and so many problems; most of them seemed unresolvable back then. Ten years later so much has changed. I am not the person I was ten years ago. I have lived in three different countries. I met wonderful people and made lifelong friends. I have new prospects and I am looking at a much bigger horizon of opportunities. All of this has happened with a very specific soundtrack: Bono’s voice and the music of U2. They have always accompanied me.

I moved to Ireland because I wanted to see where they came from, what made them the way they are. I found a nation that is still licking its wounds, a nation that is trying so hard to shape a better future for its people. U2 are able to describe this struggle in their songs.

It is strange to think that there is someone in the world, someone you have never met and never will who seems to know you so well. Their words express feelings I will never be able to express with the same eloquence. I know what it means to struggle to ‘show myself and getting out my soul’ or to ‘have big ideas and be out of control[1]’ in a conservative society, just like the eighteen year old in ‘Out of Control’.

I remember one afternoon coming back from school and feeling quite frustrated because a teacher had punished me for simply having spoken my mind and thinking that I could not stand to be in that suffocating environment anymore. Bono told me ‘if the night runs over and if the day won't last and if your way should falter along this stony pass. It's just a moment this time will pass[2]’. I held on to that for the rest of my school years. Everything ends and everyone finds their way, he told me that and he was right.

Throughout their songs U2 taught me compassion, tolerance and passion for justice because ‘Grace finds beauty in everything, Grace finds goodness in everything’. If there are words that could summarize the choices I made so far they come from this song:
‘I want to run
 I want to hide
I want to tear down the walls
That hold me inside
I want to reach out
And touch the flame
Where the streets have no name

I want to feel, sunlight on my face
See that dust cloud disappear without a trace
I want to take shelter from the poison rain[3]

I know exactly what it means to have all that energy, that desire to make things better, to find your way when everyone around you wants you to conform and maybe in the process make a difference in this God-forsaken world.

I know ‘I still haven't found what I'm looking for but I believe in the Kingdom come and then all the colors will bleed into one[4]’. At the moment ‘yes, I am still running’ but U2 will continue to sing along with me to my dreams, my fears and my achievements because music has the power to be a faithful companion to our lives.

[1] “Out of Control” 1979, Paul Hewson- Dave Evans- Larry Mullen Jr- Adam Clayton
[2] “Stuck in a moment you can’t get out of” 2000, Paul Hewson-Dave Evans-Larry Mullen Jr-Adam Clayton
[3] “Where the Streets Have No Name” 1987, Paul Hewson-Dave Evans-Larry Mullen Jr-Adam Clayton
[4] “I’ve still haven’t found what I am looking for” 1987, Paul Hewson-Dave Evans-Larry Mullen Jr-Adam Clayton 


Goodbye my dear furry friend

It is  strange how those who can express less are the most missed.
My cat passed away, aged 17, yesterday. She had been my companion since I was six.  I love her deeply and dearly. Most people will frown upon, thinking she was just a cat but anyone who has or had pets knows they are not just cats or dogs.

She ruined me for other cats. I don't think I will ever have a cat again, not for a long time at least. I had her since I was that age when I thought pets were just toys. She taught me that they aren't in the most cruel way: by biting, hissing and scratching. I still bear the scars. She was never easy, I had to win her over. Our relationship was done of playing until she, fed up with my endless pranks, would take revenge on me when I less expected. She never loved me unconditionally but instead she taught me that she had character and personality and that could never change even when,at last, we  became friends.

I, on the other hand, loved her even more because she was more than a pet, she knew how to boss me around, she knew how to get my attention. Eventually, she won my heart, I will never know if I won hers but when she was old she would always look for me instead of my mother. There were things she only wanted me to do for her. 

I will miss her high-pitched meowing, her warm fur, her blue eyes and her unbelievably strong personality. She was a small cat but the role she played in my life was huge.

Sometimes, those who are less capable of showing their feelings and emotions are those capable of leaving the deepest impression in our hearts and you, Gancina, were just one of those.

Actually, what I am saying is not fair to her. She might have not had a voice but she surely could express her emotions; like when she would sleep by the door when I was not home, when I was at school and she would sit all  day in the armchair in my bedroom as she was guarding my possessions.

Gancina travelled; she knew the sound of a plane taking off, of a car braking and the sea. She was a brave cat who deeply trusted the people she loved. She went to France and Britain. She knew the sound of different languages.

Gancina, you taught me how to love and take care of others, how to respect others' needs and priorities. You taught me when I was very young and in need of good lessons. I am an only child, and I had just a few friends in my childhood, and I grew up and played with her like you would do with any other sibling. 

You will be much missed Gancina but you will never be forgotten. The house must be empty without you. it is extraordinary how such a tiny little thing can leave a huge void when she goes. 

I want to remember you running in the fields, chasing mice, hunting down crickets, birds and little snakes. I want to rememeber you like that because I am sure you were happy then. I hope that in cats heaven they have fields and mice to chase so you can be happy again.


Why I am who I am

Not much happened during the past week so this will be another post full of reflections and deep thoughts.  I am afraid my brain never stops working and I like to think, wonder and analyse every bit of my life. I want to use this post to reply to those people, whom I constantly meet, that seem to think my life is always easy. Those are the people that think moving, travelling, putting myself in difficult situations is as easy for me as it is for them to surround themselves with what it is familiar. I am not the only one who has chosen this way of life first of all, and then, secondly life is never easy: neither for me nor for anyone else.

Sometimes I interrogate myself on the reasons that have pushed me into leaving my country, abandoning my friends and everything that was familiar for this life. Then I give a read through any Italian newspapers and all my doubts are cleared. But despite that I realise I have chosen a difficult path. I will always be in a disadvantage. I am not a native speaker, my accent gives away my origins most of the time, I don't know the culture or their way of doing things. Sometimes this disadvantage really discourages me and puts me on the verge of going down the easiest path.

At this point many of you would ask: seriously why? I sound like a bit of masochist, don't I? Well, the answer is simple; if I haven't done all this I wouldn't have lived! For me this is life: leaving the familiar for the unfamiliar, exploring, going beyond what it is known and experience. Eleanor Roosevelt used to say 'every day do something that scares you'. I wouldn't quite put it this way, life would become a nightmare if I had to scare myself to death everyday to feel alive but the point is clear here: try to create challenges for yourself and so you will feel alive.

I was forced to leave my previous life because I was unhappy, now I found a place to be happy but everyday I try to put myself out there to do what scares me. It is scary to start a job in a language that is not yours, with people that have a completely different working mentality but, it is rewarding when your work is appreciated because you know no matter how easy the job is, you had to put much more effort into it. It is that feeling of pride, of being content with yourself and your achievements that makes you want more. I keep doing this everyday, on daily basis. For example, I run because it is challenging for someone who didn't even want to walk down the street. I want to learn riding, play an instrument, draw and write because I have never done any of these and it will be a challenge.

I was scared when I moved to Russia, when I walked into my first lecture at university. I am planning trips that will take me to remote places because I want to keep on living, experiencing, exploring and discovering. It doesn't take courage for this at all. Courage has nothing to do with this, I am not brave but only a bit foolish and curious. Wasn't someone famous who once advised young graduates to 'stay hungry and foolish'?  Being brave is completely different and I want this to be absolutely clear to everyone.

I will keep on living like this because along the way I found out so many new things about myself and the world, because I made wonderful friends and I grew up. I don't think this takes courage but only enthusiasm, enthusiasm for life and what the world has to offer. If people think that it has been easy they are wrong, it hasn't been easy and it won't be but if I hadn't had designed my life all over again all this would have never happened. This is what makes it worth to challenge yourself and be scared because the reward is twice as good.

If I am who I am I owe it to my foolishness and curiosity. "My fear is my only courage" once said Bob Marley and my fear is living like I was already dead and this is the fear that really keeps me alive.


Spring news

Hello everyone!
It is funny to think that the last time I posted the latest news, it was a cold wintery day and today it already feels like spring.While I am writing I can glance outside the window and I see the sunlight coming through the chunky branches of the massive tree in the middle of the square, turning the stone of the buildings into gold. These are definitely the things that make me happy to be home. Bath, and the Cotswolds, is such a nice area with pretty little villages scattered around the hills and the fields. Just walking around makes you really glad to be here. Yesterday I went out with a friend for this year's first drink outdoors and then I had a nice dinner with an old friend from uni. 

Many things have happened as I'm working to make others happen. I have finally come to the conclusion that I want to work as a lawyer for a while before I go into charity work. I came to the decision that criminal law is something that would probably suit me better. So I have been looking out for different law firms that offer a training contract and I have selected a few. Right now I am gathering the material for the application. Having a new project is always exciting and this one is even more because I think I found a career path that might be the right one! I want to continue working in human rights but I think I can do that on the side, without being too involved into human rights or international law which doesn't seem to offer many jobs. It is difficult to get my head around the British system but I am sure I will find a firm willing to take me!

Finally I have found a job! I work for a software company. I know each and everyone of you would wonder what the hack I am doing in a software company but there is a reason. Despite the fact I don't know what the company does in the specifics, I was able to get the position thanks to my languages and my personal charm (!!!). For the moment the contract is temporary, which absolutely fine, considering that I am going back to studying in September and I want to travel in the summer. I am following a project that ironically involves talking on the phone most of the time. I say ironically because all of you that know me also know how much I hate the phone!!! I spent the last few weeks avoiding it and using emails as much as possible. I was sure that when they found out they would have probably fired me, instead they offered me a full time. I took it and now I am forced to speak on the phone 8 hours a day, damn it!

Despite the fact I clearly love my job, my colleagues are very nice and funny. They have a very typical and sarcastic British sense of humour that I find hilarious so, at least, I am having fun. Then, I can save up some money that is never bad, and possibly travel in the summer. My idea is to go somewhere hot but I am still deciding whether it is a good idea to travel in hot countries during the summer. My top destinations at the moment are Sicily, Morocco and Turkey. I am daydreaming most of the time now so I might add a few to the list soon.

I have also decided to take some driving lessons. I have had one so far which was quite terrifying at first. My 'instructor' explained me in every single detail how to start a car and drive, then I put my feet on the clutch and I give a good push to the accelerator....well I felt like the car was going to take off!!! Awful!!!! I didn't want to try again in my life for the next 15 minutes! Then I managed to get my courage back and turn on the engine again. After the initial scare I learnt to start the car so smoothly that you might think I am a Formula 1 driver!!!!

I keep training for the London 10K. I have now started a crazy routine that forces me to wake up three days a week at 6.30 to go running before work. Now you know how much I love to sleep but someone I hate running in the evenings and I found that a good run in a freezing temperature wakes me up faster than a good strong italian espresso! So here I am, getting out of the house incredibly early, run around the park and then get ready for work!

This is all for the moment, I am loving being home with my family and friends getting ready for my next adventure.
Hope you are all well and enjoying the first days of spring.


Some news from rainy Bath

Back in the day I promised I would give you some news from home and then I realised it has been almost a month since my last post.

I am home and even though it feels weird living with my parents again and mostly sitting around waiting for job to turn up, I am really glad I made this choice. Being home is good to relax after months of stress and really focus on what I want to do with my life. 

Then it is not true that I am just sitting around because I have found a job, starting tomorrow actually! I am not totally sure what it really involves but it is in sales, not my favourite job but if I save up enough money I can travel a bit in the summer! 

I am also, finally, certain about my law career. I believe I want to practice at least for a few years and I would like to work as a  criminal law because I think it is the closest to human rights law, that could be useful whenever I want to work in that sector. I had an interview last week when they ask me thousands of questions and I am waiting to hear from them! Scary!!

Finally, I have found a very interesting volunteering programme with the Bristol Courts. It is a charity that provides victims of crime and witnesses with support during trials. It could be very useful to build some legal experience and to really understand what I would like to do within the sector.

Things seem to be moving in the direction I wish them to and I am very happy! 

In addition,  I am with my friends and family which is always nice. As expected I miss the people I have met in Brussels and sometimes I miss living in a big city; it would take me half an hour to get to the university every day and I have to go to another city! It is funny sometimes to think how small the place I live in is!

These are the latest news but I will keep you posted with the developments!
Hope you are all well! Take care 


Leaving Brussels was a bit harder than expected!

This would be the last entry from Brussels! I have just one hour left here. Weird, uh? I arrived here more than six months ago and they have gone so fast. I am waiting for the train now and here in the station lounge it is the best place to reflect. Probably not many of you will agree but if you’ve followed me from the beginning you would know already that I have a big inclination for reflection.

These six months were very hard, on a personal level of course. I know my experience would have been much more enjoyable if I hadn't been such a mess. I met incredible people with whom I hope to stay in touch in the future, but I have to apologise to these people for not always being the best companion of nights out and fun outings. Right now I feel like a cloth that has been used, shuffled around, thrown in a corner and left there. I have to reconstruct my life because lately big pieces of it  fell under the pressure of time. Life changes even when you don't want it to change and getting used to it turns to be more difficult that we imagine. So, I apologise to everyone that had to deal with my italian mood swings; despite the impression that I have probably given, you helped to make this experience a great one and I have to thank you.

That said, I can't believe I am actually sitting here waiting for the train. Earlier today it didn’t look like I was going to make it. Two friends came to pick me up from home to go the station, early enough to catch the Eurostar. We took the metro and we were at the station in time. I went to change some euros into pounds (because with my bag stolen last week I had to cancel my card) and  then we made it to the terminal. When we got there this short Belgian woman broke the news: you can’t carry more that two pieces of luggage on the train! Basically the only solution I had was to check my luggage and had it sent to London. Unfortunately I had only five minutes before the train would leave. I thought I was going to have a heart-attack! What???? If I had missed the train I wouldn’t have any money to pay for it!! 

We ran to the check-in, got lost a few times thanks to the lady’s detailed instructions. Once the luggage was checked in, we ran to the terminal only to find out that I couldn't get on the train anymore! We all tried to argue my way in but the lady was so angry! It’s funny how harsh French people sound when they are angry. All the beauty and musicality of the language disappears. Everyone says German is harsh but it’s because they never heard an angry French speaker! Also I don't think German is that harsh, I think it is very elegant. Probably because I never had to deal with angry Germans!!

Anyway, I couldn't get on the train and so the lady showed some mercy and decided to let me on the next train without paying extra despite my ticket being non refundable and not exchangeable. My friends took great care of me and helped in every possible way. I would have never made without them. 

The problem was and still is the train from London to Bath. At the station you can buy train tickets within the UK but unfortunately the only one available was more than 80 euros! My parents managed to change the ticket online. It is funny how now that I am writing everything down, it all sounds less dramatic than it felt while I was living it. 

Anyway, here I am ready to board! I feel like I am going to leave behind a different me. It won’t be the case probably but it feels like living in Brussels was a continuous lesson. It was my first office job, the first experience abroad without any real help. Before I had gone abroad but someone sorted out the accommodation and other various things for me. Here I had to find a place to live, taking responsibilities for my job, I had to make friends etc. I make it sound like I am a very naive girl who hasn't seen anything in her life. It is not true; I lived in Ireland when I was 15, in Russia when I was 21 but every time it was something organised by someone else. Of course I had to get by while I was there but I didn't have to worry about food or accommodation. 

The experience was a great one on my levels, but I am happy to go home. I will have a real chance to put my life together, to understand what I really like and want to do and I get to live in one of my favourite countries surrounded by friends and family. Right it is all I need, I need to feel cared for, loved and safe without any worries and pressure. I feel like I can relax and focus on myself and my needs. I have to thank Brussels because like any other time I was away from home, I had the opportunity, to learn, to grow and meet interesting and different people. I guess this is what makes moving abroad so great the feeling that every time you have something to gain from it. 

Right now I am probably really overwhelmed by different kind of emotions and I will probably be able to explain myself better later when things calm down a bit. Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you that I won’t stop writing, sorry! I figured I have so many friend scattered around the globe that is good for them to have something they can read anytime they want to know how I am getting on. So now I can say to the next time!


Last few days in Brussels

I am back in Brussels after the holidays. I got back two weeks ago. I was lost and depressed. Leaving home felt completely wrong and unnatural, so I promised myself I was never going to leave again. Of course the feeling didn't last long but I believe that was a sign, a sign that I should take into consideration.

My arrival in Brussels was a bit comic. I got off the smallest airplane in the world feeling like shit and by the lack of directions I soon realised I was in Belgium! Understanding how to get to the terminal was not easy! Collecting my bag was not an easy task either: blind, hungry and ill I had to work out the Belgian signs risking to end up on a connecting flight to Jakarta! Anyway once I got my bag I looked for the elevator, I found it and it wasn't working so I had to take a very crowded escalator to the station. I bought myself a ticket for the earliest train but because the one before was delayed I managed to get on early. I was very happy and thought I had been struck by luck but then the train was stuck at the platform for no apparent reason while the ticket officer was keeping the doors open for anyone who wanted to get on! I was standing there wondering what the hell was going on. Finally we set off probably very much delayed! 

I was trying so hard not to think about home that I completely forgot about letting my family know I was safely home. My father in a panic attack called the hotel next door to ask the receptionist to ring our flat and see if anybody was home. There we were and everything was good again. I felt really bad for not giving any news on my whereabouts but I was so torn, disappointed and sad for leaving home (and especially my cat who had died that afternoon) that I couldn't make myself even think about it. 

So here I am. Ten more days in Brussels and then I will be home. I am happy to go home. Everyone probably knows that I love my home and being home. This doesn't mean that I won't miss it here. I will miss the office, my colleagues and all the lovely people I have met in these past six months. For half a year I have been a Bruxelloise and it has been a great experience!

I will leave considerations and other reflections for my last post from Belgium but I will try to describe how I feel. I need to get it out of the system. This has been a tough period for me, Brussels will always be associated with sad memories but it won't be a sad memory. Because of the many things that happened in the last few months I believe that my place is at home with my loved ones. 

I have a strange feeling inside, though. A mix of excitement, anticipation and sadness. Sadness because every time we leave, we inevitably leave a piece of us behind. We meet people along the way, we grow up and we learn and then we leave and somehow not everything comes with us. 

You can understand why I am excited, though. For me this is the beginning of a new adventure.  I am going to study law, something that will help me get a bit closer to my dream job. I will meet new people and reorganise my life. Every time I move I feel like life has given me another chance to redo things  better, another chance to improve and become a better person. Maybe this is the reason why I am so restless; when I am not happy with myself I just pack and buy a ticket to a new destination. This won't be the case this time. This time I have to win over my instincts and stick to one place!

So next time I write to you I will be on my way home! I still have to decide what I am going to do with this blog but stay tuned for one last post from Brussels!