WHY I AM KICKING OFF 2018 BY QUITTING SOCIAL MEDIA.


"I just need some time, I'm tryna think straight
I just need a moment in my own space
Ask me how I'm doin', I'll say "okay, " yeah
But ain't that what we all say?"

2017 has definitely been a good year for me, but I am a firm believer that there is always a chance to improve and this is why I am positive that 2018 will be even better. One of the things I want to start doing already today, that is January 1st, is quitting Social Media, at least for a while. I just think that Facebook is just a distraction, a virtual world where everyone builds a fake image of themselves. Everyone is so caught up in posting the right selfie, in getting the highest amount of likes or in bragging about what they have done the night before. I just realized that I don't want to be a part of all of this anymore, at least for a little while. I will be using Instagram because photography is one of my passions, but I will try to quit posting stories for at least a few days. As I always post pictures of trips I go on or things I do, people text me that they envy me and that they would love to have my life. Everything looks so easy behind a screen. No one ever thinks that behind all the fun there's also pain. People are becoming more selfish than they have ever been. They think they are the only ones going through hard times, but everyone has their ups and downs. Besides that, everyone chooses what to show and what to hide from people.. in other words, not everything you see on social media is totally true. I just feel like I don't even know my friends anymore. Just the other day one of my really good friends texted me and said she is going through a very tough time, but I'd have never guessed because she seemed like she was enjoying herself, but of course I was all wrong.

I want to quit Instagram stories for a few days because I want to be able to have a conversation with people. I want them to be interested in how I am doing and in what I am doing, rather than having them look at my stories. Once they look, there is nothing left they can ask me. They already know, don't they?
 I also want to enjoy myself more. I follow people that post endless stories when they are at a concert but it's just sad because once they leave the venue they probably feel like that concert never happened, they didn't feel it. I was once trying to take a picture of the stage and the outcome was upsetting. Everyone had their phones above their heads so my picture was garbage. Then I just realized that probably someone else's photo was also garbage because my phone was in their way. 

Social Media were supposed to bring people together, but the result is actually the opposite. I won't be quitting my blog, neither tumblr because that's basically my moodboard but anything else is more or less obsolete. I think this is going to be good for me. I will be able to spend five minutes more on Duolingo, instead of scrolling my Facebook timeline full of meaningless memes, which will bring me closer to one of my goals for 2018, but I won't spoiler anything. Keep on reading over the next few weeks and you will eventually find out. Have a Happy New Year everybody!

PS: A very BIG thank you because on Christmas Eve my blog has reached 1 million hits!

- Cris

MY 2017.


If you haven't had enough of me already and you are still here, today I will just summarize this past whole year in... a blog post. I kicked off 2017 with my family, at my parent's restaurant. Everyone was worried because I was not doing anything special with friends and stuff when the truth is I simply wanted to be home for the holidays, as I was living in Denmark at the moment. Then, something like ten days into the new year, I flew into Hamburg Germany and met one of my really good friends from my high school exchange in the USA. I spent the night and then I took the train up North and started University again until I went to Colorado for my spring break. It was good to be back and see everyone. My daily routine was pretty basic in Denmark. If I was not at Uni, I was working, and if I was not working I was hanging out with my couple of friends. 
As everyone says that at least once a year people need to go somewhere new, my best friend and I went to Madrid Spain for four days, and we loved it. I fell in love with Spanish and the culture and I can't wait to be back. From then, I spent the summer in Italy. A few friends came to visit me, I went to the South to visit my grandparents, and then in September I packed my bags and moved once again. This time my country of choice was the United Kingdom. In the spring, it has been hard to choose between Spain and the UK. Looking back now, I regret nothing. I am really happy I chose the UK for this amazing experience and I wouldn't change a single thing. 

People think that now I am used to moving around and traveling to the point that I don't even realize I am changing, but it's not true. I do realize it, and I embrace it. For the past four years, I've been living in four different countries, but each experience has taught me different things. All of these transfers seem similar yet they are so different:
I arrived in the USA with a basic knowledge of English and I lived with strangers. 
In Denmark, I had to translate the contract of the studio apartment I shared with a stranger from Danish to English, and I was employed for the first time. 
In the UK, I lived "alone" for the first time, I studied and worked while I tried to socialize with all the local and Erasmus students. 

Five years ago I was a 15-year-old who didn't speak a word of English, only visited one country and didn't trust himself. Today I am a (more) confident 20-year-old who speaks nearly three languages, has lived in four different countries and has landed an internship in the USA.


I won't spoiler my plans for 2018 but I will definitely write them down on January 1st and then I will read that piece of paper every day to remind myself that I need to work hard to achieve whatever goals I set. This method actually works. I remember that last year I wrote a list of things I wanted to do in 2017 and forgot about it. A few months past, I found it somewhere and I was amazed by the fact that I forgot half of those. It's so weird to see how our priorities change in such a short period of time. I don't want to commit the same mistake. I want to focus on my goals and achieve them. My 2017 has been good, but I hope that my 2018 can be even better.


- Cris

i'm okay in the uk.


These past few days have been amazing, leaving aside all the assignments that I am procrastinating on and that are due in January. I’ve worked a lot, I’ve been out a lot, and I regret nothing. I spent quite some cash without thinking straight, but I thought that after all the hard work I deserved to enjoy my Erasmus a bit more before it finally gets to an end.
 Last night after work I went to the pub with some of my colleagues for “a couple” of drinks. 

They basically became my second family here in the UK, given the fact that I spent most of my day at Tiger than I did at home. I haven’t had the chance to have deep conversations with everyone but I did have the opportunity to get to know them fairly well. I really enjoyed last night, even though I just remember being loud and annoying to my friends (too many drinks, perhaps). I enjoyed myself but I was also worried I was going to miss my train at 6 in the morning. I still had lots of stuff to do, like finish packing and printing off some documents e.g. my boarding pass (ended up printing off nothing). Thankfully I did most of my packing on Sunday because if not I’d have had issues. As soon as I got home I threw some more stuff inside my luggage, rested for a couple of hours at the most and then I got up, took a shower, fixed some breakfast (or dinner?) and then left at about 5.30.


I’m currently at the Liverpool John Lennon Airport looking out the window, with my tired eyes, a headache, and a nice travel pillow from Secret Santa around my neck. I will never get tired of looking at airplanes taking off and landing. As they come and go my mind travels with them and that makes me happy.

At the beginning of my Erasmus, I thought that this was just going to be like one of the many experiences I lived in the past and I am yet to live, but it turned out to be a very special one and I am honestly not ready to say goodbye to the UK, nor my friends. I was planning on not coming back in January, but I am really glad that I was basically forced to because it would have been really sad to leave for good today.
In a month I will be in the USA for my internship in video production and I can’t express how excited I am to return “home”, but it is definitely going to be hard to say goodbye to Worcester, my international friends, my colleagues, the UK.

December 19th, 2017
- Cris

#BLOGMAS: TEN DAYS INTO DECEMBER.


Believe it or not, it's already December. The most beautiful time of the year began with a Christmas Fayre which took place here in Worcester from Thursday 30th to Sunday 3rd. Due to the fact that I worked, I didn't really get the opportunity to experience it as much as I wanted to, but it has been a blessing for me eventually because it was overcrowded and a nice walk in the city center would have turned into a nightmare. In fact, I've never seen so many people at the same place here in Worcestershire.

Saturday night I went to the pub and it has been fun because I met new people and I enjoyed the conversations we had. Then on Sunday, since it was my day off, my friends and I attempted to go to the Fayre but we ended up choosing to grab food instead of being walked on by people. Hard to believe but after three months in the UK I still did not try Fish And Chips, so my friend wanted to take me to a place she previously had some at. My fear became true when we arrived and discovered that it was closed. Ended up at Mc Donald's for a burger and then worked a couple of hours extra because my colleagues needed a hand to run the shop. 

This past week has been intense. Despite working 27 hours and going to University for 16, I managed to bake some cinnamon cookies, hang out with some friends, go to a dance show here on campus and also finally try some fish and chips with a special friend.

Friday it snowed for the very first time but what was cool was that it was also my payday so I received a lot of money. On the other hand, I will literally be left with £45 soon because next week my rent is due. Anyways, Friday's snow was nothing compared to today's. When this morning I opened the curtains, my eyes captured the beauty of snow that has been falling throughout the night. My friends and I planned to go to Birmingham weeks ago and we still had to do so, therefore we decided to go today. Some of my friends are leaving the UK this week and today was their last opportunity to see the German Markets. Well, we all woke up early but ended up not going anywhere because apparently there was a strike and snow slowed trains down, some of which got even canceled. The ticket machine was out of order so even if we wanted to risk it and go anyways we couldn't. As we did not want to walk back home quite yet, we went to Starbucks to sip some coffee and admire the flakes slowly falling from the sky and inhabit the pavement. Then we went for a walk and visited the Festival of trees at the Cathedral.


Each tree was donated from different institutions and people could vote for their favorite. My University's tree was one of the best ones simply because the purpose of it is to raise awareness of our need to take care of our mental health. I popped into Tiger to say hi to my colleagues and then I ran into a supermarket to buy some boots because my feet were soaking wet. I got home and took another hot shower because I desperately needed one. 
As I checked my emails I found out that one of the two classes I have tomorrow is canceled so I got extra excited and now I am here in my kitchen writing a blog post while my flatmate bakes banana bread and makes lentils.

I also sorted out all my documents for my American Visa and I soon have an appointment at the embassy. I couldn't be more grateful that everything is finally falling into place. Working hard repays in the long run. 

Cheers to the last 21 days of 2017.

- Cris

BROTHERS NOT BY BLOOD BUT BY CHOICE: HOST SIBLINGS.


If you also went on exchange during high school, you probably know that between the moment you send your application abroad and the moment you receive your host family’s information there’s just a long wait that slowly drives you insane. All you want to know is where you will spend one year of your life. But when you less expect it, the information you waited so long for reaches your mailbox. One night, I was using my laptop and after concluding everything I was doing, I decided to check my mailbox once more because who knows, maybe someone sent me something important. It was meant to be because not even ten minutes earlier my host dad sent me an email in which he introduced himself and his family. “I am Brian, I am texting you from Colorado USA. Kim is my wife and Hunter is my son.”

Getting to know them.
In one of the hundreds of emails that we exchanged over time, my host parents told me that they were going to be in Switzerland at the end of July and they asked me if I could reach them so that I could meet them in person, they could meet my family and give me advice upon my arrival at the Denver International Airport. 
Meeting them felt right, as soon as I met them I felt like it was always meant to be. The few hours we spent together went by very quickly. We had lunch together, walked around the little village and chatted most of the time. I was happy because my parents had the chance to meet the people I was going to spend a year with, which was good because my parents did not worry as much. 

Not everything (or everyone) is easy to deal with.
I finally arrived in the USA and everything looked gigantic and weird to me. I could literally not stop looking out the window while we were driving to my new home. My host brother instead could not stop staring at me. I assume he was just trying to “study” me and getting a first impression of the Italian sitting next to him. 
Over the next few days, I could see that he was trying to be nice but he also behaved differently depending on where we were. At home, he was all nice and then at school he would not consider me as much as I thought he would. I even started playing tennis because he was on the team and he asked me to. I thought that accepting the offer was a good move because that way I could meet people and I could get to know him better, but eventually, it turned out to be a poor decision. I enjoyed playing but I did not get close to any of the team members.
I guess my American brother and I really started to bond in early November when we had lots to celebrate: my seventeenth birthday, my American parents’ twenty-fifth anniversary, Thanksgiving and winter break. He started inviting me over to his room, playing video games with him, watching TV series, eating junk food at two in the morning... That’s all I wanted from the start. I wanted to bond with him and see his true colors because I knew that the person he was at school was far from what he is really like. At the beginning he would introduce me to people saying “this is my exchange student from Italy” but eventually he started telling people that I was his “Italian brother”. It sure felt good to be introduced to people as a member of the family rather than a person from a foreign land. He also started to appreciate my company and told me that he looked at me as a role model. If he had to deal with something, he would think about what my reaction would be in the same exact situation. I think this is really cool. Not only we became friends, but after this sentence that he told me I felt like I really succeeded in having a younger brother.

Why am I writing this?
Because I do not want you to expect that things will be perfect from the beginning. It is best to arrive in your host country without expectations so that you won’t be disappointed by it. Do not make this mistake but work your way through instead. At the end of your year, you will have a completely personal experience and you will have walked your own path rather than following the kind of exchange you wanted to have. Reading someone else’s experiences before going on exchange is a good thing to be inspired and maybe do even better, not to copy them. Don’t compare your own path with someone else’s. And more importantly, you have to build up your relationship with your host siblings but also with anyone else, you can't assume that everyone will be your best friend from day one. You might feel lonely but eventually, everything will fall into place and people will get to know you and love you the way you are supposed to.

- Cris