HOW TO BOOK A CHEAP FLIGHT.

If you are anything like me, you are dying to find a good deal to get out of your comfort zone. You are dynamic as much as I am but you are also... broke. Right? No worries because today I will show you how you can find the cheapest flights there are out there with a few clicks.

- Cris

ERASMUS COMPETITION.


Hello guys, I've been busy lately but for a good cause. I will soon go on Erasmus (higher level of exchange) and I am participating in a competition. All I have to do is writing blogs in a forum - I wouldn't consider myself a pro, but I do know how to write and I have experience in blogging so I figured I could give it a try. To be able to gain points I need readers though, and this is where you come in. I need you to read different stories I write. I will go deeper into what my American days were like, what I felt on exchange, what I was doing in Denmark as a full-time college student and what my free time is spent like. All you have to do is read the following articles. Each view will give me points. That's all! The following are just some of the articles that you can read to help me raise some points:
Find more HERE.

Why should you help me?
Because with the prize I will be able to pay for my flight and Visa back to Colorado for an internship. Help another exchange student to come back home, from home!

Best Regards, 
Cris.


I WISH I HAD MORE TIME.


We people often fail to value time. As soon as we depart for exchange lots of thoughts pop up in our minds. We are either so excited that we leave our parents in a hurry to catch our plane or we are so lazy that when we are at our host house we feel like doing everything "later" because we have one year to do stuff, so we are not in a rush.

I was definitely type one. I left my parents kind of in a hurry because I was excited to leave, but one year is long without your family.. and you feel it, especially during Christmas. I wasn't type two for sure though because one year is not so long when you have to bond with new people, pick up a new language, learn about your host culture and traditions. It is barely enough to let you "taste" all the fun, and when you finally feel like an insider, all is taken away from you. It is time to leave, no more American breakfast or drinks on the go.


There you are, at the airport with 50 plus kgs and a head full of emotions you can't even explain to yourself. As your plane caresses the clouds, you look out the window for the last time. The airport fades and you are left with your feelings, your headphones and airplane food.

I spent eleven months in the USA and yet I wish I had more time. I don't know how people choose an academic semester over one full year. It makes me sad to think that some people had half of the time I had. In spite of feeling like I needed more time, I know that I did all I could during those eleven months and I regret nothing.

The first thing your family and friends tell you when they see you after so long is probably "Oh, you gained weight." that's the first change they see in you. It's okay, it is concrete and it would be hard not to notice. It is not okay when they only see your body change and nothing else. I feel like I changed so much as a person that it would make me sad if people only noticed my heavier body.

If I had more time I'd have gone out more, just because I still think that I could have visited more of my host state. I'd have gone hiking, which should be fantastic to do in Colorado. I'd have gone to a concert at Red Rocks as well because it looks dope. Well.. the list might be long. So now it's your turn, what would you do if you had more time? Leave a comment below!

Read also: "Fulfilling my dream of visiting New York City."

- Cris

FIRST DAY IN MY HOST COUNTRY.


I'm almost twenty and left for exchange almost three years ago, but I want to tell you all about my departure day anyways, because it is always good to remember it.

Try to imagine a sixteen-year old who hardly travelled by airplane ever before and who had to fly for almost twenty hours and have a layover in one of the biggest airports, Heathrow, by himself. It isn't hard to imagine, right? But I wasn't worried at all, actually.

I think I put many alarms on my phone just to make sure that I'd wake up on time, even though I knew that there was no way I'd miss even the first one. I hardly slept, I was too excited. I arrived at the airport so early that I had breakfast again with my parents to kill time and have a last chat with them. I specifically asked for window seats at the counter, but from Milan to London I had an aisle seat, which anyways is better than the middle one. I didn't mind as the flight was short. The flight was delayed for approximately 30 minutes, but I was still not worried.

Flashbacks of 16 year-old me wearing a blazer and wandering in Heathrow still come and go nowadays. I was so excited to be out of the country, to see things I used to see only on a small screen. I was even excited to have a coffee from Starbucks (we currently don't have it in Italy), just because it was so famous.. I even took a selfie with its sign, what an idiot some of you might think, haha neext.

Heads up for future exchange students: 
Having a frozen yogurt right after a coffee and before a 9-hour flight is not a smart idea. I had to use the toilet onboard a couple of times because of that, but anyways I will keep details for myself.

I was finally floating between clouds, over the ocean and Canada. I was listening to music, even though British Airways' playlist was very poor in choices (there was basically the full discography of one direction and not much more). My point is: I never slept. I just couldn't, so I took thousands pictures of.. clouds. "Cabin Crew please take your seats, we will be landing shortly." This is it. I played "Hopeless Wanderer" so many times that day that it was just about time to land and start wandering hopelessly.


Touchdown. 

"Welcome to Denver, Colorado. The Mile-High City." I don't even wait for the airplane to park that I'm already texting my American family. "I landed" I said, and shortly after I directly called them. I'm sure customs where not so long, but they sure felt like that. Gosh, I was exhausted yet so energetic. I couldn't wait to cross the gate and meet my US family, I already imagined it in my head, just like in the movies. I'd arrive and they would be there waiting and ready to hug me. Well, they were not. "Where are you Cris?" "I don't know, I don't know this Airport. I'm assuming I'm at the arrivals." And I was, but my American dad & brother were waiting for me at the national arrivals, I arrived with an international flight, so we missed each other.

I desperately needed to use a restroom but they did not have dinner prior to my arrival, so we stopped at Wendys. I did not want any food so I just stole a few fries and had a frosty. The sky turned dark-blue and I was just staring out the window while my host brother was staring at me as I was some kind of alien. "Wow" I was thinking "This is insane!" Milan is a city, so everywhere you walk you have buildings limiting your vision. In Colorado all I could see where endless fields and a 180° sky.

My house was at the end of a blind alley and once arrived and parked in the garage they showed me everywhere, up and down the stairs. It was almost 1 am when I went to bed because I couldn't sleep so I started unpacking. 6am is around the corner and I'm already up. "They must be sleeping still, it is Sunday. There is no way I can go upstairs now, I will decorate my room." 

Two hours later I couldn't keep myself in my room, I wanted to go upstairs and talk to them. They were up and surprised because I was awake. "You know Cris, we hosted 16 exchange students before you and you are the first one who woke up so early" - "Well, what would you say if I told you that I'm actually up since 6am?" The weather was beautiful so we had breakfast outside the patio, I had banana bread with the amazing coffee my American dad makes. I felt like I was living in a movie. "Cris, I have to wash my car, would you like to come with me?" Of course I went, his car is amazing! He got it a few hours before I landed, I would say he did it just for me but that would bea lie haha.


It was so cool to be able to drive through my host city with daylight. My dad showed me my school, places where they normally go to grab a coffee, eat or buy groceries and all I could think of was "It looks just like GTA, huge roads and enormous cars."

We had reservations at Texas Roadhouse for 5pm, which is a bit early for me to have dinner but it turned out great because by 6pm I was literally falling asleep on the table. Thankfully after that jet lag didn't hit me anymore. I had dinner with a student from Greeley who was headed to Belgium two days after. We basically switched continents. 

It was for sure one of the most intense moments of my exchange year, followed by American holidays, trips and meetings with unbelievable people. I feel still fortunate nowadays for the experience I had, for the amazing family who I am still in contact with and all the other people who still text me now and then to see how I'm doing. By writing this post I realised how many things I still remember, even though it has been three long years, full of changes and stuff that enriched my life.

For all my Italian readers, and for whoever trusts Google Translate, I wrote a journal while I was in the USA where I went deeply into what I did other there, if you are interested check it out: 

- Cris

A BREAK FROM REALITY: Viajé a Madrid.


"Sometimes it all gets a little too much" sings Shawn Mendes, but I perfectly agree. From time to time we need to take a deep breath, stop stressing about things that won't matter in the long run and take a break. Are you thinking what I am thinking? Yes, going on a trip, even for just a few days, will work! So jump on the internet, book your flights and pack. See you at the airport!

I moved to Denmark last August and throughout the year I had the chance to see my best friend "only" four times, which is why we decided to go somewhere together, just the two of us, and catch up. Our choice was Spain, Madrid to be precise.

Royal Palace of Madrid.

Needless to say that we loved it. I loved the culture, the food, the Spanish vibes and hearing the language. I'm honestly missing sippin' Sangria or chilling at Parque de el Retiro. Italian & Spanish cultures are so close yet so different. I've tried to speak Spanish with people, even though sometimes I was actually forced to do so as when I asked a person "Do you speak English?" he replied with a firm "Español!" ... Si señor, my apologies, Spanish it is.

Parque de el Retiro.

Even though the tube costs 2 euros per ride (from and to the Airport it costs around 5€), we decided to walk everywhere and ended up with an average of 30km per day, we almost arrived to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and Google Offices by simply walking! Think about it, if we took the tube for 4 days, back and fourth, we would have spent at least 16 euros just for that, when all the fun of travelling is finding hidden alleys and capturing perfect shots. Also, we decided to spend those 16 euros on Paella, Sangria, Empanadas and a bottle of white wine (or maybe two..) to celebrate.

Plaza Mayor.

Tips for discovering Madrid on foot:

Bring water with you, and sunscreen. Luckily enough I directly tanned without getting sunburnt, but having protection would be nice. We visited Madrid in June and even though from time to time it was hot, there was a little breeze which fooled us. I went back to Milan with a white line around my neck. I couldn't stop taking pictures, so I didn't tan where the strip was. Oh well, it is not that visible by now anyways haha.

Bring comfortable shoes. We decided we wanted to go to a cheap and warm place so we decided Madrid, but we didn't know it would be on hills. And this is why along with water you need good shoes. Well, we made it and I would do it again. I was so tired that I slept without any problems those three nights haha.


Talk to locals for advice. As my friend and I were walking we found a restaurant with a very competitive menu price, so I wanted to ask for more information. I thought that the person standing in front of the main door was the owner and so I approached him with a "disculpe!". I then figured he was not working there so I tried to apologise and leave, but he wouldn't let me. He kept saying if I had a pregunta for him. No, no questions, thank you though. Nada, he was nice enough to keep asking me if I needed help, and so I told him in Spanish that I thought he was working there and I wanted to ask information. Little did I know that from this first approach we would spend half an hour talking to this middle-aged tipsy español. He gave us advice and warned us. He was a nice guy, even though he started our conversation by saying that Spanish people engañan (cheat you) just like Italians. As we told him we were Italians he started a whole new and different conversation "Io amo l'Italia, Italiano lingua più bella del mondo, io canto, io amo la cultura" (I love Italy and Italian, I'm a singer and love the culture). Well we eventually ate there and it was good!

Paella Valenciana.

Visit as many rooftops as you can, Madrid has many. You can go up to the 8th floor of the El Corte Inglés for free and look over Grand Via. On the first Wednesday of the month you can go up to the terrace of the Palacio de Cibeles for free (any other day you have to pay a few euros) and enjoy the view over the fountain of the main Plaza and the rest of Madrid. For a few euros you can also visit Tartan Roof, on the last floor of Círculo de Bellas Artes.

Círculo de Bellas Artes Rooftop.

PS All the pictures are taken by me.
Check out also what I did in HAWAII.

- Cris