Thursday, December 27, 2012

Down time.

With the holiday season here and all, I FINALLY found some down time to update this thing! It's been a whole 2 months since I've posted anything. Yes, I've been busy, but honestly I haven't really had anything super eventful or interesting to write about lately. The majority of my time has been dedicated to working and studying for my driving theory exam (which I hope to do in February). 

I've been going through some ups and downs. Missing home a lot.  Not only 'cause the holidays are here, but I've just been feeling frustrated. I know it's only natural since this isn't my hometown and I'm still not completely fluent in Italian. But man, I have some really bad days where I'm just cursing about everything here and really want to go home. The only thing that really keeps me strong is my wonderful man and our close-knit group of friends and family.

sharing some fun western Christmas gift games with my Ternano people


Learning Napoletano cards ain't easy!
I love game nights
The amazing cousin Fabio in action for Christmas lunch
Alla prossima!
xoT


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pesto time

When I returned to Italy in the middle of September, I was not surprised and not happy to find the hot and humid temperatures. The mosquitoes that were still lingering around until last week were the worst. Actually, wait a minute....I just killed one yesterday. But now, we finally need jackets for the nights because they are quickly getting cool.

The best part about this transitional season is having an abundance of fresh basil growing on my balcony. Instead of letting all those beautiful aromatic leaves die, my mother-in-law-to-be (whom I already call mamma) suggested we make some good ol' pesto.

A few days ago, I was in a lazy mood. So I cooked up some spaghetti, threw a few small spoons of pesto onto it, mixed it up and enjoyed a simple, yet savoury lunch. It feels good not to let good things go to waste. =)




xoT

San Gemini

San Gemini is a charming little town very close to where we live. Every year, there is a medieval festival there for a few weeks where the town is converted and performers are dressed in costume marching around the town. The most popular thing to do is to go eat at a "taverna" where you can enjoy some good old comfort Italian food. The long lineups are not fun, but once you're inside, you can guarantee tons of shouting, singing, laughing and wine.  We had the pleasure of going twice.

San Gemini

Putting them kids to work! 

Why so many jugs???

Top: Polenta and Picchiarelli (homemade pasta with spicy meat sauce)
Bottom: Medieval style bill
blurry blackberry pic =(



xoT

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Last few hours in Toronto

It's been a very short 5 week trip home to Toronto. Watching my baby nephew grow has been the best part about being here. It is also the worst part about leaving today.

Emanuele also enjoyed some time with me in my hometown. It was amazing to see him bond with la mia famiglia and all my friends! We also went from being Godparents to my nephew to being fiancees in just 2 short weeks. What a trip....

While it's very hard to leave my family and friends, I am excited to get back to my normal "Italian" life with my new hubby to be!

xoT



bride & baby "express shopping" for a dress

soon to be zio (uncle) reading to my little chubster

xoT

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Italian dimsum?

Yeah right, I wish. But it was the first thing I thought of when I saw the menu, checklist styles and all.


Last weekend we drove to Strettura to check out the sagra of "bruschetta al tartufo". Living here makes it really difficult to have any kind of "portion control", I'm beginning to feel concerned about my eating habits. 






So anyways, I kind of got a little too excited and ate my bruschetta covered in tartufo before I realized I could take a picture of the plate to show you guys. Sorry about that. Here's what I managed to snap:


fagioli and frittata both cooked with tartufo


Counting down to my visit home. 2 more weeks....can't wait.
xoT

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The happiest day of my Italian life.

I think the picture explains it all.


Okay, I guess receiving a fedina for my birthday is really the happiest moment I've had here so far, but having this bad boy installed comes pretty damn close. Being able to sit on the couch without having my legs stick together or feeling sweat dripping down my neck is truly bliss. This air definitely feels luxurious, especially when it's nearly 40 degrees outside. Ahhhhh....

xoT



Monday, June 25, 2012

Seasonal Adjustments

This is my first official summer living here in Italy. As you know, I live in Terni, but what you possibly don't know is that it's located in a valley between mountains. This makes the city feel like a huge oven during the summer. Coming from Toronto, I'm completely used to hot, sticky, hazy and humid summers. But what I'm not used to is the absence of air conditioning. Called me a "spoiled city girl princess" if you want, but not having the luxurious crispy cool air at home can turn me into one nasty human being. The worst part is trying to cook a hot meal, literally sweatin' over the stove. Mamma mia,  I can't take it anymore!

So last week, we finally decided to splurge and install an air conditioner. While Emanuele's Mediterranean blood is used to this dreadful heat, my cold-ass Canadian blood isn't. Relationships are all about compromise, right? Obviously, living here, nothing is instant so we have to wait another week before we can have the beloved installed....so in the meantime, I'm making some summer adjustments.

my manual air conditioning

I have quickly learned that the people that live here "just deal" with this heat by making minor adjustments in their lives; Doing their errands in the early morning until about noon. Staying home during the hottest hours in the afternoon with the windows open and shutters closed (in hopes that a slight breeze will enter while the sun doesn't). Heading to the pool, the mountains or the sea on the weekend to cool off. One adjustment that I've quickly adapted is: just not using the dang oven or stove! It may seem obvious to many of you, but to me it was breaking news. 



Dinners are actually quite more enjoyable without the unbearable heat from the oven and the bitchy cook (right, that would be me). Fresh mozzarella, bruschette topped with fresh tomatoes and basil, salads and assortments of affettato (that's 'coldcuts' to us north americans) --especially the good ol' faithful sliced melon topped with prosciutto, can't go wrong. Oh and tons and tons of gelato! And if all else fails, just pick up a freshly made margherita pizza for 3 euros down the street.

Yes, the summer here is annoyingly hot, but the evenings can be quite nice. Especially with a glass full of homemade Sicilian wine (given to me by one of my students who brought it back from his trip home to Sicily and was generous enough to share the goodness with me), relaxing on my balcony.
Last night, I also had the pleasure of heading up to Prati again to our friend's summer home to enjoy some cold air and Italy beat England in the quarter-finals.



But, don't get me wrong. I'm still excitingly waiting for my new a/c and will probably shed a tear when I press that "on" button. 

xoT
ps. Please blame the poor quality pics on my blackberry and my laziness. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My first ramble.

I'm finally ready to write about my recent negative experience here. I haven't really written about these types of things so far because well, mostly I'm too lazy and honestly, it requires quite a bit of energy to complain about stuff. But now, I'm finally compelled to share the shi*tty feelings I've been having because....it's honest.

Overall, I'm happy to be here. Most of the time, I feel extremely lucky to have had things fall into place so easily...so far. Then there are times where I'm completely frustrated. Not only do I live in a foreign country, but I went from living in a cosmopolitain city of about 2.5 million to a small industrial town made up of 150,000 people. Obviously there's some adjusting to do. As many other expats have expressed their  frustrations with Italian bureaucracy, crazy Italian drivers or rude customer service, strangely my frustrations aren't coming from the same place. I'm more fed up with the fact that I can't seem to express myself the way I normally would in English. I can't have a meeting with my accountant or visit the doctor on my own (yet). I feel totally incompetent and dependent during these times which makes me so upset.

So yesterday, when I had two young women ring my doorbell, instead of ignoring it like I usually do (in fear of not understanding), I decided to answer the door. I wanted to take charge of my life and take one small step towards becoming more independent. Little did I know that this would totally blow up in my face. These two women were from a gas and electricity company. Not having set up my own utilities at home, I was worried when they showed up with their badges and binders full of forms. I immediately thought it was my current gas and electricity company coming to check on our meter. After seeing their logo, I asked if this was a different company, and instead of a straight up "yes", I got some kind of run-around response leading me to assume they were a "subdivision" of my current company.

I said several times that my Italian is not that great and that they can return later when my boyfriend came home or feel free to leave me something in writing to show him. I even went as far as saying, "I'm not sure because utilities are so different where I come from". But for some reason, which I came to realize later, they wouldn't leave. Then my next thought was, "okay, this must be some kind of mandatory visit". I heard words like "request a discount, green energy, savings, completely free, show us your bills to determine if you're entitled", and somehow my mind told me that this was a friendly visit from this "subdivision" who wanted to check my bill to determine whether I qualified for some kind of green energy discount price or not. How did I put that together? My broken Italian and stupid sense of pride told me so.

After 15 minutes of them analyzing my bills, drawing up numbers and figures of discounts on a piece of paper, I ended up signing what I didn't realize was a contract. (insert reader's gasp). This is very hard for me to admit since I am always cautious and would never normally sign anything I wasn't sure of, even back in Toronto. In fact, I'm okay with blurting out the "I'm not interested, please go away" line. But during my recent state of mind (let's call it "blurry-slash-stupid"), I thought signing this piece of paper was a great way to prove to myself and to my partner that I am slowly becoming independent enough to do stuff like this. I will admit, this was mostly my own fault for signing something that I was not sure about. Obviously, under no circumstances should anyone sign anything that they aren't fully comprehending. Stupid me.

Incase you are wondering, I actually asked in Italian, "Is this a contract?" after which one woman replied, "No, it's simply a free request to see if you qualify for savings". And in my opinion, I strongly believe that these women didn't leave because as soon as my door opened, they saw my face, heard my broken Italian and decided to take advantage of the fact that they could scam me into signing what was actually a contract to covert over to their gas company (which is a completely separate entity). This contract was a request to be approved, so that once approved, we would be locked into a "discount" price for two years (which I'm still not even sure is a true discount).

While I do believe those women should have left the minute I told them I don't understand very well, I am mostly upset at myself for letting my emotions overpower my common sense. What I learned from this experience is 1) don't open the door if I'm not expecting anyone 2) if I do ever decide to open the door, don't sign anything 3) be more patient with myself and less patient with door-to-door salespeople. Oh and, thank God for laws that allow us to withdraw from this agreement within 10 days.

xoT

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Homesick

I've gone from counting down the days to moving here to counting down the days until I can finally visit "home" (which is still Toronto for me). I've been feeling homesick lately. These are the two main reasons why:



       

3 more months. Sto aspettando....
xoT

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Warm fuzzies.

Earlier this week, I received my first "care package". It's always nice to know that no matter where I am, I have my amazing Toronto girls who love me. It's funny how simple things like peanut butter, ketchup chips, Korean cup noodles, floss picks and gossip mags can put a great big smile on my face.

Nutella took a backseat for breakfast that  morning to a warm cup of asian noodles at 9:30....mmmmm. Don't judge, you would have done the same. =P

xoT

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My very own...

....Bancomat card!! Awww yeah! Another mini-milestone for me. I know for many people it may seem like something strange to be excited about. But for me, it's all these tiny things that I stressed over before moving here. So opening my first Italian bank account and depositing a cheque from my employer felt great! Now I no longer have to deal with those pesky international withdrawal fees and exchange rates, whoo-hoo!!! Makin' euros, spendin' euros. It's all gravy baby.....well, at least until tax season creeps up on me next year. Ick.



xoT

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pasquetta

My first Easter (Pasqua) weekend in Italia was very similar my first Christmas here. Mass in the morning, then a 5 hour lunch at mamma's. Antipasti, lasagne, fried lamb, grilled lamb, fried artichokes, 4 kinds of dessert....food, food and more food as usual.

However, Easter Monday (Pasquetta) was something new to me, mainly beacuse Easter Monday isn't a holiday in Canada. I really appreciated having an extra day off. Even better, is having friends who have homes up in the mountains. It's always a good time getting away from the city, even if it's only for a few hours.

A half hour drive up the mountain in Stroncone, passing a few cows here and there, and we were in this small town called Prati. The photos don't really do justice since I wasn't really snapping photos like crazy. But it was a beautiful, sunny day with traces of snow here and there which reminded me of the first days of Spring back in Toronto. We enjoyed another fantastic lunch, mostly prepared by the guys which made it even more fantastic. Our "digestion walk" was well needed after all that food.

In Toronto, after having one day off for Easter, we normally lug our sorry asses back to work on Monday morning. On top of that, we would have to wait until the big May 2-4 (Victoria Day) weekend to party it up with friends. But it's quite a nice change having our next holiday fast approaching on April 25th (Liberazione) and a week after that there's May 1st (Festa del Lavoro). One of the perks about living here, all those extra days off.

xoT





Alessio giving me the "stop taking photos" finger while cooking

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Official.

No, I'm not an Italian citizen (yet). However, this morning, I strolled into the comune office to get my Carta d'Identita (identification document held by all Itaians over the age of 18). 5.42 and 5 minutes later, I walked out of there with the crispy new card in my hand. It feels damn good!


Side note: Before I moved here, I did tons of research and read many blogs on experiences dealing with the Italian bureaucracy. I think about 99% of what I read were complaints about how confusing and disorganized the offices were, or how difficult and frustrating it was to get a straight response from someone. While I don't completely disagree, I have to say that my experience has been quite positive overall. Part of it could possibly be due to the fact that I'm in a smaller city, therefore lines tend to be a bit shorter and some of the staff tend to remember you if you make more than one trip to the same office. Or maybe it's just sheer luck. Regardless, whether it was the Questura to get my permesso di soggiorno, the Prefettura to legalize a document,  or even the Anagrafe to register myself as a resident, everyone so far has been helpful (which seemed to be very rare from what I read online) and some even friendly (yes, friendly! I do not kid you). So I just had to give some props to Terni for keeping it plain and simple for a foreigner like me.

Living here as an expat can definitely be frustrating at times, so it's been nice not having to go through a crazy mess to get what I need to live here legally. Next step, Italian health care....keeping my fingers crossed.

xoT

Friday, March 30, 2012

A year later...

I started blogging about my journey one year ago today. It's a pretty crazy feeling to see how far I've come in only a year. I now firmly believe that if you don't live life to the fullest, it will pass you by. 


Looking back to my first post, I giggled at, what now seem like such small tasks, all that I needed to do before moving here. Here they are:
  • Put my place up for lease (check) Now I have a lease of my own, here in Italy!
  • Move back home to save more dough (in progress --and mille grazie mom & dad!) 
  • Get a work-holiday Visa After 6 months, it's now expired, but luckily I have a stable job and no longer need it!
  • Figure out where I will live in Florence Had some amazing memories living on Via del Sole.
  • Deal with canceling numerous services, policies and subscriptions (ew....) And now I have a whole bunch of new ones in Italy (sucks).
  • Keep up with my Italian lessons via RosettaStone so I can have a conversation with mamma Masci  Ok, I didn't do so well here, but I can have conversations with mamma! Throwing myself into conversations with native Italians have helped me tremendously! 
  • Complete online college course Halfway, wasn't enjoying it so much.
  • Spend ALOT of time with my friends & family....and especially my nephew Lucho (wahh!) It's never enough time... =( 
Now it's time to update my list for the next year.
  • Speak Italian much more fluently (I want to be able to speak without translating in my head, to be able to make jokes, to be able to make witty remarks and comment on things naturally...sigh)
  • Get my Italian driver's license (this is so intimidating to me, especially having to write the written exam...but then again moving here also did...) **note: I actually drive by myself to another part of the town to work 2 times a week. I couldn't let this go without noting since I'm obviously damn proud of myself haha!** 
  • Join a gym and get fit!
  • Be able to teach lessons without spending hours of lesson planning at home
  • Find time to take a mini Eastern European holiday somewhere
  • This one's big, but then again, what's wrong with dreaming big? Buy a home in Italy
Ok, that's a pretty good list for the next year. Can't wait to see how much I can cross off. =)

xoT




Sunday, February 26, 2012

Carnevale: A night of NO shame

Here are some of our ridiculous pictures from Carnevale evening. 
Our homemade "topolino and topolina" costumes turned out A-okay!













I love having male friends who are completely comfortable wearing tight superhero costumes in public.



Our crazy friends who put together the Flinestones car won themselves a trip to either Ibiza or Majorca that night....so awesome.













Naso a naso! 


xoT

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