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Interesting things about Bogota and the Colombian culture

A city where millions of people live and everywhere you look you see people, all kinds of different people from various neighbourhoods. While I was in Colombia, I learned so much about the Colombian culture which I am very grateful for. Love sharing my perspective with you!

Pico y Placa

So, first of all, Bogota: a city of 12 million people and therefore an enormously amount of traffic all day long. For that reason they have “Pico y Placa” which is a restriction for specific cars (based on the last number of the number plate) during specific times of the day. For example; if your number plate is VDW 862 and Pico y Placa is that day for even numbers, you are not allowed to drive in Bogota from 6:00-9:00 and 15:00-20:00. This restrictions is for cars with a yellow number plate. Taxi companies and other service companies have white number plates. As you have read, did I only mention cars. Motors and scooters do not have Pico y Placa, therefore, you see them everywhere in the city. I think I have never seen so many motors on a high way. Oh another thing, all vehicles are allowed to pass from either the right and left side, so yes; chaos!

Public transport

Most of the time, in Bogota they wait in the queue for the public transport as in Santiago. Every time, I forgot to make a picture in Santiago, but now in Bogota I didn’t. It is so cute for me and polite! Something which we could learn from as Europeans.

Besides that, I found the city very clean and I felt save (maybe because I was always with a Colombian). Of course, in some neighborhoods it was less clean and you shouldn’t go alone there, but that is then also a thing you don’t do.

There is this thing, which I every time couldn’t stop getting annoyed and shocked of and that was black smoke from the cars and trucks. I didn’t know it would do so much to me to see and smell it (it was very disgusting also), but it apparently did.

Food rituals

Another point is that the Colombian people, like I think the rest of Latin-America, also eat big during lunch. Dani told me it is normal to have a housekeeper who cleans but also cooks the meals. Yeah mom, your life would be much easier haha. And and and, their food is all so delicious, but not the most healthy food with the maximum of vegetables though. Something typical is for example; Arepa with egg. Arepa is mix between bread and pita, and we ate it for breakfast but also sometimes for lunch.

Besides that, are the people all so extremely kind and lovely. So, heartwarming for me and sort of unbelievable at the same moment because I am not used to it. They help you and try to make sure you enjoy the time you have in their country. The touristic attractions aren’t also very busy. I think that people still have that sort of bad image of Colombia, but from what I have seen and experienced so far, they/we really shouldn’t, because those people and this country is something special! Everything is further by the way so cheap for us (compared to Euro’s), so yeah, there shouldn’t be any other excuse.

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Visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar – a colourful experience

A weekend getaway from Santiago with my Swedish roommate Julie. We chose to visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. We had heard that Valparaiso was beautiful and that the walls would be full of graffiti. Viña del Mar, on the other hand, is great for the beach!

Colourful Valparaiso

We left Santiago on Saturday at around ten in the morning by bus. It took us one and a half hours to arrive in Valparaiso. Valparaiso is a harbour city and lots of neighbourhoods are located on the hills, which are called “Cerro” in Spanish.  The Airbnb we booked was also on a hill and it took us some stairs to get there, but it was great! Cute and clean, and in the middle between all the graffiti. Because that is mostly for what Valparaiso is famous for, its graffiti. However, I would more call it art, because it is not just something, it is extremely beautiful.

Furthermore, I will not have a lot to talk about, besides the fact that Valparaiso is poorer than Santiago, which can be mainly seen on the streets in the centre because of the homeless people and dogs. We liked it more to stay up in the hills and wander around over there.

Because all the sightseeing is on the hills, we walked 15 kilometres on the first day; Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. Not to forget to mention the sweat… We had loads of full and because in the end, it is actually only walking around and taking pictures, there was a lot of time to get to know each other and talk about our lives. Since Julia and I live together in one house, we still mainly saw each other in the morning during breakfast and talked a bit about our days. There wasn’t really time for sensational conversations, because I needed to go to work and Julia to school. Therefore, it was even nicer to really get to know her better. She is a beautiful girl with a great personality!

To the beach in Viña del Mar

On Sunday morning, when we finally had our breakfast after searching for 45 minutes for a restaurant that was open, we searched for the bus to go to Vina del Mar. We took the local bus and, although it was very cheap (420 pesos = 0.50 cent), we did not really know where to get off after we had been sitting for around twenty minutes. The bus driver only stopped when the other passengers told him to stop. So, when we arrived somewhere where was “live”, we told him to stop and eventually, we made a good choice because we were there.

It felt as if I have never left the beach in Hoek van Holland. I was so happy and glad that Julia and I decided to go to the beach because after I had come home from Colombia, I did not feel very good and when I am at the beach, as you maybe know, I can always empty my head. Julia also has the connection with the sea and the beach, so after we had been walking around for thirty minutes and had taken some pictures, we decided to sit down on the beach and just look at it and be quiet. The weather was by the way amazing and pretty warm, around twenty-four degrees. Lots of Chilean people were having the same idea as us. They only took their food, drink, and towels with them.

We ended our beach day at a delicious Italian restaurant. I ate a great vegetarian Cannoli and we watched a football match between the two rivals of Chile. Both getaways from Santiago were nice! I cannot decide which one I would love more. To visit Valparaiso and Viña del Mar is for sure a recommendation!

A father-daughter weekend

Ohhhh I looked so forward to this father-daughter weekend. A weekend full of wine, Italian food (well, that will not surprise you) and I let my dad taste the beest ice cream in town.

My dad arrived on Friday at the end of the morning and we went straight to my favourite bakery. We both had a cappuccino and shared some pastries (yes, we love that, too, ha-ha). The weather wasn´t that good and it was raining a lot. However, for us, it would be better if it would rain that Friday instead of the weekend. So, while it was raining very hard we had lunch again at one of my favourite restaurants: Zá Zá.

I also showed dad the Mercato Nazionale and after we went home to have some rest and sleep a little bit. Dad woke up at four that morning, so he could use some. Not that we kept the night short, because after we had an amazing dinner with lots of wine (yes, we left the restaurant a little tipsy) at Vetreria, we went to the Red Garter. The bar, my friends and I usually go to before we go to the club. I introduced dad to the Long Island Ice Tea. The favourite drink of several friends of mine and at that time, the favourite drink of my dad. For the ones not knowing, Long Island Ice Tea is an (obviously alcoholic) drink with four different alcohols and Coco cola. I know, it is called Long Island ICE TEA, but yeah, they put Coco cola in it. A mind f*ck.

On Saturday the roadtrip started and we continued our father-daughter weekend. Again, we used again Car2go, only now for two days. Because yes!! We did a road trip for two days, all in the Chianti region. We really wanted to do a wine tour together at a Castello and that we could also sleep in the Castello and eat there, and of course, I found one!

Wine tour at Castello di Fonterutoli

After we arrived at the Castello di Fonterutoli, we had to hurry a little bit to be one time for the wine tour at five o’clock. The place where we stayed was beautiful and super romantic. The wine tour was, by the way, also very nice. This was especially when the man started to talk about the history of the winery. It had taken them seven years to renovate (the winery is from 1435, the family Mazzei). This was because of different obstacles with the water system and hydration for the wine

Pitstop in Siena

On Sunday, we took it easy and after breakfast, we headed to Siena. A city which I would not spend the whole day, because there is not much to do, but it is very nice for some hours. And since we had the time, why not? ha-ha. We mainly relaxed on a terras in the sun and face-timed with mom. Because yes, the whole weekend was sunny and not raining at all. Lucky us!

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After we arrived back in Florence from our roadtrip to Greve in Chianti, I let experience dad the most delicious ice-cream in my opinion at Gelateria Dei Neri. Oh, and yes, he loved it! We finished the amazing weekend off with dinner at another favourite restaurant of mine (yes, actually all the restaurants where I come are my favourite ha-ha). This one is called: Napoleone. This father-daughter weekend was just lovely!

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Life in Santiago, Chile – The activities

After my first blog about settling down in Santiago (if you have not read it yet you really missed something) it is now time for some extra fun and get to know the surroundings and show you me life in Santiago. Santiago has more neigbourhoods than Las Condes (where I live) and Vitacura (where I work). I have the activities I did listed for you and I hope that you get as excited as I am when I am rereading this text.

Skiing in El Colorado

Yes, you read that well! I went for skiing, on a Saturday to be exact, with my supervisor from work (Christian) and two friends of him. On Friday we went to the ski rental because on Saturday morning 7:15 Christian picked me up. It took us around one hour and 15 minutes + 41 harpen bends. They warned me already and asked if I have a weak stomach; and yes oh I really do have one. Gladly, I survived without getting sick. The drive to the top of the mountain was so extremely beautiful with the dawn. I really wanted to make pictures to show you, but I also really needed to think about myself (at those moments I can get sick from looking on my phone for one sec).

Don’t worry, I will make it up to you, because I took some amazing shots on the top of the mountain. But first the area. There are like three or four different area’s there. We went to El Colorado, because it is the less busy one, and indeed it was. I think that until 11:00 we were the only one on the slopes which is quite a big difference for me compared to Austria and Italy.

This picture you see here below, I just really wanted to show you. I was smiling when I saw this, because in Austria and/or Italy I have never seen that before. However,  I could really use one from time to time. I think it is very nice that they provide this for us.

Further, I just found it so nice and magical to be there. Although, it was also sort of weird because I expected totally something else than in Austria and Italy. Besides the smaller area, tissues provided and a beautiful view, it was all the same. The kids’ classes, the lifts (although they were a bit old), the restaurants plus singer, and the whole atmosphere. I had an amazing day!

A night out

Although I am working and sort of getting into that lifestyle, I am still 21 and super young. Jep, I went out. On a Wednesday night to a student party called: Miercoles Po.

With who?

So, back in the time when I was younger we (my parents, brother and sis) used to go to the camping for some years in Spain with different families from our village and with one of the families we also used to go on wintersport every year. One of the sons, Jesse, studies here in Santiago until November and we decided it would be nice to meet. We first just thought about a drink, but then Jesse asked if I wanted to come with them to the party (he is here with three friends from school) and had dinner at their place. The plan was made!

Until now, I have not really thought about missing home, because I found my place here and everything is good. However, I liked it so much to have some Dutchies around me and especially Jesse then of course. At home, we do not see each other or talk a lot because we have our owns lives now you know, but I just find it so incredible that when you meet, it is like nothing ever changed.

Before we went to the party, we did a pre-drink at a house of their friends. Lots of new people, lots of new names, don’t know any of theirs anymore of course, but they were all very nice and I felt welcome! After a while, the Latino’s grabbed a guitar and started to play and sing. Yeah, can you imagine. It was magical. For them like almost the most normal thing to do, but for us, not.  Those moments that you will keep with you forever, this is one of them.

The party was also nice. I liked the music and place itself. Woman get in for free in nightclubs here and men sometimes. Besides that, did Jesse tell me that I should take care of my belongings because there usually are a lot of pickpockets. So, for the first time in my life I put my phone in my bra and all my cards in another part of my bag. Gladly, nothing happened and everything went well!

And yes, I needed to work the other day (slept 3 hours) and yes, I needed until Saturday to recover. But, all worth it people, all worth it, only not for every week haha.

The neighbourhood Santiago (Centre)

Santiago has totally 33 neighbourhoods and even in those neighbourhood there are different parts. Some are very big (like Las Condes), but some also very small.

Bella Vista 

This last weekend I went twice to Bella Vista which was between 30/40 minutes by Uber. Lots of people told me that it is very “a life” over there and I cannot say they were not right about that. I went twice for dinner (Friday and Saturday) and on Saturday we (Jesse, his friends, and me) also went to a karaoke bar. We laughed a lot!

The reason why I like it so much, is because everything is so close to each other with many restaurants, bars, and little shops. There is a place, called “Patio” (totally called Patio Bella Vista) where those three come more together. On Saturday, there was even a small dance show going on in the middle of the Patio. It was such a very nice and calm atmosphere and the food I ate was delicious, too!

On Saturday, before we went to the karaoke bar, we already had a drink together and later went to a restaurant where we had a special guest. See Cees with his eyes closed on the picture below. Cees is 72 years old (with wife and children/grandchildren at home!!) and Jesse knows him from his work in the Netherlands. He always worked on a ship and travelled around the world. Because it is such a passion of him, he still does it sometimes and helps a bit with the navigation.

This time the ship went from Rotterdam-Hamburg-Antwerp to Cartagena-Panama-Lima to Valparaiso. In Valparaiso he took the bus to Santiago and stayed here for a few days before he was heading back home (by airplane). He even also went to Patagonia, all by himself. It was such a nice dinner to share with everyone and Cees is really inspiring. I hope that he is able to continue to do this as long as he wants to.

Barrio Lastarria

On a Monday evening I went to Barrio Lastarria, the bohemian/hippie part of Santiago. I cycled home very fast and immediately took the Uber to the metro station Santa Lucia where Belen and I were meeting. I wanted to have a look for some new rings and earrings and because we have the same taste, she showed me lots of different stores.

After we did a bit of shopping (bought in total one tiny ring haha), we took a walk through the neighbourhood and Belen, as historical lover, told me lots of things about the buildings etc. Very interesting and funny to know. A great tour guide!

Are you ready for the sort of Monday cheat day and something which is probably going to amaze you? Yeah great, read further!

We had not eaten much that day and didn’t have dinner yet, so when Belen saw Buffalo Wafels she asked me whether I wanted to try. I had tried the typical sweet waffels with Nutella and strawberries some time, but waffels with vegetables, chicken, serrano ham and cheese not. I was/is still so weird for me to eat something like that. Still, I thought why not, I should try it once. So, I took the “Vegetarino” with tomato, lettuce, goat cheese and pepper. Besides that, do all the waffels have fries chips as topping. Really had to think of my dad, he loves them! And believe it or not, it was quite nice! Still weird (“Muy raro” in Spanish), but nice.

Playing paddle with Sebastian

Lots of people who read this blog know that I have been playing tennis throughout almost my whole life. So, when Sebastian asked me whether I wanted to play paddle with him I could not reject of course. Besides that, we paddle at home, on the beach, only call it beach tennis then haha.

How to play paddle?

I am not sure if I am giving you the exact, right explanation. However, for me, it is a combination between tennis and squash. The court is much smaller than a tennis court and you are able to use the blue walls (see on the picture). Although, the ball must first touch the ground. The counting system is the same as with tennis. The serve with paddle is not as with tennis, you first must bounce the ball on the ground and then you have to beat it cross to the other side of the field and the rally starts. Besides that, you always have to be on the same line as your partner. So, when you serve, you always have to come to the net and when the other serve you both stand on the baseline.

Another thing, it is impossible to use spin with paddle. Everything is in the volley grip. Because paddle rackets are much smaller than the one from tennis, it happened to me (too often) that I totally missed the ball because I thought he was longer haha….

I did really enjoy it. Although, using the wall was still very difficult and every time I forgot that is it possible. It is a very dynamic game and if you get the game, you can use lots of strategic tricks to make it more difficult for the other.

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The countryside of Santiago – away from five million people

Although the trip to Salar de Uyuni was quite the getaway, the countryside of Santiago was quiet enough as well. Sometimes you just need to go away. You need away to recharge your battery, to find back your perspective on life. You need to get away in order to come back and see what you have. Well, the countryside of Santiago helped me a lot!

Cajón del Maipo with Belén

So, Cajón del Maipo. The countryside of Santiago. Translated as the “Box between the mountains” and a beautiful getaway place from Santiago. After I arrived home from Bogota at around three in the night, I would meet Belén at her house around twelve in the afternoon. After I unpacked and packed my bag for four days, I took the Uber to Belén. We would go first take the metro and then the bus before her dad picked us up at a town and we would then further go to the village they live in called; El Ingenio. In total, it is around one and a half hour to arrive.

Belén her parents have their holiday house in El Ingenio for already many many years. They were the first ones in the village. The house is literally amazing and feels as if you are in Austria because of the style (all wooden). Besides that, the view which they have is so wonderful.

I am now wondering if I have ever introduced Belén to you? Because I actually do not think that I did.. “oh-oh impolite Isa”. So, Belén and I know each other from England. Since I am here in Chile, we have met a few times and we really get along. No expectations or anything, just all very relaxing. So, yeah that was this long weekend too. We slept, ate, read, talked and relaxed a lot. We played Catan with the neighbours (Daniel and his girlfriend Claudia) and went to a place called Embalse El Yeso (I will tell you later about that).

A funny thing to know is that their neighbours are like family. They share lunch and dinner together very spontaneous and just come by without telling like it is the most normal thing to do. I like that, so relax and no worries at all.

Rayuela con Terremoto

We also played a game called Rayuela and drunk Terremoto with it. Terremoto means earthquake in English and it is a mix of alcohol (sort of white wine), pineapple ice cream and a very sweet/sugar full sirup. Nope, I did not like it, but I liked the game Rayuela and according to the locals I was quite good for the first time playing it. You throw an iron oval “thing” from 7 metres, as close as possible to the white line in the middle. You have two changes and play with a partner against two others. Easy as it is; the couple with their “iron oval things” as closest to the white line in the middle, win points. The ones who have as first ten points win! Belén and I ended up in the finals but lost, because they were very good with lots of experience (just old men actually, oopsie… haha)

Another thing I told you what we did was eating. During the afternoon, they eat big, but for me, that is like big. Besides that, I stopped eating meat but every lunch there was meat. I liked it and thought why not, I just try it another time and see how my body reacts, was a bad idea people, a bad idea…

Embalse El Yeso

On Saturday morning the weather allowed us to go to Embalse El Yeso. We woke up at eight and left around 9:30. The last week it had snowed, therefore the top of the mountains were white. They called me “the lucky woman”.

The road was quite bumpy because of the stones and in the end, it was even closed. We needed to walk the last bit. Welcome to the real countryside of Santiago. No problem for me, I was happy about stretching my legs again after a while haha.

Clear water

We arrived at the Laguna made pictures, played a bit in the snow and Daniel who has lots of knowledge about all this place explained to me about the water system.

All the water that comes from the Andes mountains goes into a big tube to Santiago. There is only like that one important thing. If you would try the water over there, it is insanely clean. In Santiago, as I also experience it really is not! By the way, I do not drink water from the tap in Santiago. A few times per week I walk on the street as a clumsy person. Too many water bottles to carry in my hand and let one drop once in a while.

Another thing about water. Belén told me that I should wash my hair while I am there. So, I did and really, the first eight hours I could not stop talking about the fact that my hair was so extremely soft and shiny. Now my hair was just naturally perfect. All thanks to the water!

How did I celebrate Christmas alone in Chile with 34 degrees?

A totally different Christmas than that I have ever experienced before. With my flip flops wondering around in the supermarket searching for coolness because of the 30 degree temperature outside. This was a serious change of life. This was celebrating Christmas in Chile with 34 degrees.

I didn’t have any plans for Christmas with other people, so gladly it was really warm (34 degrees) and I was able to lay in the sun and stay close to the swimming pool which we have. I hear you think.. You celebrated Christmas alone. Well, yes. I did and you probably find it sad for me. Yeah, it was. However, on the other hand, it felt more weird than that I found myself sad. Still I was celebrating Christmas in Chile with 34 degrees, whereas, in the Netherlands it was raining and around 7.

Celebrating Christmas in Chile

So yeah, my Christmas was very relax and besides laying in the sun, reading my book, listening to music and some cookings during the evening, I didn’t do much. And actually, I didn’t really mind about it. The way the Chilean people celebrate Christmas here is different than how we do it in the Netherlands; atmosphere, decorations, etc. When I was in the supermarket on Christmas Eve and wished the employee a very merry Christmas, she looked at me like: “Why are you saying that?”, which is strange and uncomfortable for me because it is so normal for me. Besides that, didn’t I see one house decorated from the outside and are public places only decorated when it has the aim to sell something. Yeah, not really the happy Christmas vibe.

On the first day of Christmas I spoke with my family on WhatsApp video. They apparently still had some very nice presents for me. What a surprise! But that is what I also had for them. For the most of them, because my mom already knew it. However, now I can also tell you that I am coming home earlier than I planned. I would first arrive in the Netherlands on the 4th of February, but that is now changed into the 24th of January. On the 12th of January I will write another blog about what I thought about my five months in Chile, but if I should give a reason for coming home earlier it is just that I really want to go home. To my family, friends, just back in the Netherlands.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve was for me something much important to experience than Christmas. Like I said, I didn’t really have that Christmas feeling so I didn’t care about being alone, although many others told me how sad it was ha-ha. For me, being alone with New Year’s Eve would have been much more sad. It would be like, me wishing myself a happy new year with a glass of champagne in my hand. Yeah, I didn’t want that and gladly that didn’t happen.

My old housemate, Maria, who started to live together with her boyfriend invited me for a party with food together with some other friends. So, we first were at their apartment, the swimming pool on the roof and later, the men started to prepare the bbq and some other very delicious dishes.

The time past by very fast that night. At around eleven we decided that it would be time to go on the streets. We were in total with five people. In Santiago there were two places where the National fireworks was and luckily one place was like 800 meters from Maria’s apartment.

There were many many people, children, grandparents, adults, teenagers. Everyone waiting and looking at the screen until it starts to count off from ten.

Diez, nueve, ocho, siete, seis, cinco, cuatro, tres, dos, uno… Feliz año nuevoooooo !!!

The fireworks last for around twenty minutes and was really amazing! The vibe was very good and there was music until two from a band. All the people dancing and being happy (First time I saw Chilean people happy). Of course, I found it difficult that I wasn’t at home during this moment, but I am very glad that Maria invited me and made me feel so welcome. I really helped and I enjoyed!

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Cultural differences between the Netherlands and Italy

Yes, this was it. My adventure in Italy. My study abroad in Florence. I dreamed about this for years. And now, is the time to look back at everything. Was it what I expected together with the study? Was I shocked by the cultural differences? How was this period compared to England and Chile? You will read it all!

Studying in Italy

I thought maybe good to start off with the reason why I went to Florence in the first place; to study. At the beginning of my Florence adventure, I wrote a blog about; Study as an exchange student in Florence, Italy. There you can read about my first weeks and the odd things that had already happened.

From the middle of November, student life really began. I followed five topics and since I never really paid attention during the lectures because most of them were too difficult and I was distracted by all the nice things we were doing besides university, I had to start from the beginning and needed to teach myself all the materials. I was actually very motivated and ready to do something. So, it all started. Five days a week we were in the library, most of the time, from nine in the morning to seven in the afternoon. To be there with everybody was quite fun, too. We always had a coffee break at eleven and then lunch break at two.

Another important thing to mention is of courseeeee the amount of intake of coffee. Well, I have never been a huge coffee lover, but I knew to be able to integrate a little I should at least try to drink cappucino. So, I started drinking it a few months before I went to Florence and apparently I liked it. So, every morning and afternoons, all coffee shops and bakeries are full, literally full! Espresso’s are the most famous one, but that one I still cannot drink. Far too strong. 🙂

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So, after a month of studying, my first exam was on Friday the 13th of December and the last one was the 17th. Most of those nights I only slept five to six hours in order to make sure that I was the best prepared. Because, although, I did not do something in the first two months, I am dedicated enough to change my mentality and work hard.

First of all, I would like to say that I passed all my exams at one time, with good grades. But now, I would like to tell you some other very odd things about how the exams were taken at UNIFI. Because, although, I passed all my exams and I am very happy about that, did not it all go in a fairway. During several exams, professors gave us the answers, people were able to use their phones and it was even at one exam we were able to talk with each other and discussed the whole exam (I got a 30/30 there… Not really a surprise ha-ha). However, what surprised me the most is that those professors did not even care and let us communicate. Whereas, on the other hand, other professors were super strict. In the end, I passed everything, studied very hard, and am very proud of myself.

General differences

To be honest, was I surprised by the number of cultural differences. Some were annoying, others were funny. Throughout the four months, I wrote everything down. So, below a long list of the things that caught my eyes. I do want to say that this is all from my experience and perspective. By that, I mean that people may not agree which is okay of course and it is not that it would count for all citizens in Florence or Italy. Let’s start!

  • When cars are waiting in front of the traffic light and an ambulance is coming, they don’t drive through “red” to let the ambulance pass. They wait until the “green” light and then they make space for the ambulance to pass them. (Yes, this is the most annoying one. I thought we can better start with it.)
  • The pavements in Florence are pretty small. In the beginning, I felt very offended when people were the whole time bumping into me. I would stop, and let the other person pass, but in Florence, they just go both at the same time and do not mind that other people are in their personal space.
  • The people are extremely friendly and helpful.
  • All people do care very much about their looks. For example, never saw a woman leaving the gym without having showered and wearing make-up.
  • Drivers don’t stop for you when you want to cross the street and use the “zebra path”. It even happened to me, that the drivers got mad at me because I thought that I had “priority” with crossing the street. So, be careful. Don’t expect that they will stop for you because they won’t.
  • Life is outside your door.
  • You always have to take your receipt with you after buying something. From just one coffee to clothes, bus ticket, anything. There is this law that the police can ask for your receipt. If you don’t have it, the shop where you bought the product and you will both get a fine. In the beginning, especially when we bought coffee’s for only 1,50 we never took the receipts. The people got annoyed and sometimes we received the receipt boldly in our hands, and after we asked why they found it so important, we were like; “ahh okay, that’s why ha-ha”.
  • Italians like to wear glasses, even when the sun is not shining. They have their right though. They shine themselves ha-ha.
  • I have never seen so much rain in my life. We had weeks of rain, 24/7, especially in November. It was insane. Also lots of thunderstorms during the day, something that I never experienced in the Netherlands.
  • December is more of an “I am on winter sport” month. It is chilly, 13 degrees, the sun was always shining and most of the time a beautiful blue sky. I loved it!
  • Italians like to race on the street.
  • You can only get a taxi at three different fixed places around the city. This is to ensure safety for passengers. It is possible though to call a taxi and get picked up from your place. Calling a taxi from the street is a real no go!
  • People use plastic bags for everything and pretend like there is nothing wrong with that.
  • The green traffic light for pedestrians is very short, whereas, the orange one is super long.
  • The people tend to walk on the left side of the pavement. Hello, we are not in England, right?
  • The food, this won’t come as a surprise, is absolutely the best of the best. I have tried many restaurants, lunchrooms, ice creams, everything, and none of all, was able to disappoint me. I miss it most of everything.
  • Oh yeah the last one, besides bumping into each other on the street, do they also like to bump each other’s cars, especially while parking. Most Italians don’t tend to care about ant scratches on their car.

My first week in Florence, Italy

It was finally time to go to the country of my dreams; Italy. Not that I am obsessed with it but I would describe it as a sort of desire that I have had to life here. By the way, welcome back lovely readers. Ready for this four-month reading adventure about Florence and Tuscany? Cause I am super excited to write about it.

Arrival in Italy

I arrived last Thursday at my apartment together with my amazingly heavy two suitcases and backpack. I definitely did not look like a tourist or at least I hope not. It is sort of my goal for those four months to not look like a tourist. It may be hard to accomplish with light blue eyes, but you know, worth giving it a try ha-ha.

Friday was the introduction day of school. I will be studying at the Universita of Degli di Firenze, probably until Christmas. The University is a 30minute walk and I think I will keep it that way, so no bike or tram card. It is a nice walk, although, for now, I still have to get used to the warm climate. Wherever I go I arrive as if I just came from my spinning classes, not very convenient but also the way I am – not a slow walker.

I was looking forward to the introduction day, exciting as I would call it because who was I am going to meet? When I arrived we had to sign ourselves up and put a sticker with your name and country on your chest. I had already seen some Dutch people and, in the end, I was right about that. The management made groups for the day and I was in the group together with seven other Dutch people. It was fun, nice and comfortable to spend the day with them and to get to know them. The thing, I only found a little weird is that the management put all the people from the same country in the same group. Probably easier for them, but since everything was very international I would mix it up…

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Friday night, we went out for dinner together – The Dutchies “three boys, three girls” – but went back home early in the evening because Saturday we went to a beach party from ESN (Exchange Student Network – organisation that organises activities and trips for students) and had to be somewhere at 9:15. It was one and a half hour driving and we were with around 100 students. The beach was relaxed and lovely, although, according to the others, the sea was very cold ha-ha. Because 80% of the people at the beach party was Spanish they dominated the music genre, which was no problem for me, because, what many of you probably know is, that I love Spanish music and communicating in Spanish. So, the day went by, more people got drunk and/or sunburned, and at 18:30 we went back to Florence, although, the party day was not over for us yet. Everyone went back to their apartments and dressed up for a night out in Florence. For me, it was the first time and I was super exciting/sort of could not wait ha-ha. It was already so nice to see the people on the streets. Like the real mediterranean lifestyle.

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We went to two nightclubs; Babylon and Bamboo. I went with four other Dutchies, by the way, the three guys and Frederique. One night club was better than the other, just because of the number of people compared to the amount of space. By the way, the beach party was not the only party where the Spanish dominated. In both night clubs, there was a lot of Spanish music and, therefore, I was of course totally in my element. Here, in Italy, I am living my dream.

After a relaxing Sunday afternoon, Frederique and I met at, already one of our favourite restaurant called La Menagere before we went up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was again a sweaty walk, but more than worth it. Here some pictures below.

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EF friends made in my first week at EF Eastbourne

It is great that when you come to a place on your own, you can be surprised by how quickly you make friends. Especially, when everyone comes alone. This blog is about my first week. My first EF friends.

It is Friday afternoon now and my first school week is over. I will give a short summary of everything I have done so far. On Monday I had the introduction day. We went to Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, all was the weather crap, it was very very nice. I have already met so many new people from all over the world. You cannot imagine, really. Germans, Italians, French, Spanish, Asians, Latino’s, they are all here.

Oh wait, I think I forgot to tell you why I have chosen to go to Eastbourne. So, first of all, I am a beach girl, which ends up living in a city on the coast. Kind of obvious, right? The second thing which I found important was that I wanted to go to a small school. People told me that the school in Eastbourne doesn’t have lots of students and makes you feel like you are all a family, precisely what I was looking for. I didn’t need more to convince me. Eastbourne it was.

Now back to my week. My schedule for this week was pretty good actually. I had class every day, but not the whole day. It was either or the morning or the afternoon. The lessons are Grammar, Speaking, Listening, Vocabulary, and ILAB (computer lesson). Because I am doing the Intensive Course, you can also sign yourself up for electives. I have chosen Banking&Finance, Leadership&Management, and Business English. In almost every class I am with different people, in the beginning, I was sometimes confused but now I am used to it, I like it. In this way, I am getting to know more and more people.

Until today, I have cooked every day for myself. Paula is most of the time going out for dinner with a German friend of her, called Amanda. During the evenings, I haven’t done much yet, it was raining every time…welcome to England!  Tomorrow I am going to search whether I can rent a bike somewhere because the tennis park is a bit too far to walk. Oh and looking at the weather doesn’t make any sense here, because the weather changes every 10 minutes.

Until now, I have spent most of the time with 3 girls. Julie and Anouchka from France and Carmen from Germany. My first EF friends. We are not in the same classes because my level of English is a bit higher than theirs, but when we have our breaks or are finished with school we are meeting each other.

Rainy days in Eastbourne
From the left to the right; Julie, Carmen, Isabelle, Anouchka
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EF Eastbourne – My first impression of the residence

Today was finally “the” day. The moment when I could enter my room where I will stay for the upcoming 9 months. The residence of EF Eastbourne on St. Leonard Road. It looked clean, modern, and quite beautiful actually. When I came in Paula, no not my mom, but my Spanish roommate, was already there. She has already stayed with EF for a month and will leave next week. I am curious who from then on will be my roommate.

From Friday I am already in Eastbourne, together with my parents, brother and sister. We wandered around the city together, searched for a tennis park and different gyms, went to Beachy Head, and of course, we ate fish & chips. They left at one o’clock in the afternoon. So, from now on, it is my turn.

After I unpacked all my stuff, which almost took me 2 hours, I went into the centre to do some grocery shopping. Sainsbury’s is in the shopping centre, which is a walk of 5 minutes. There are even a Starbucks, Marc&Spencer, and a Primark in the shopping centre. I am kind of surprised because I didn’t know that Eastbourne was such a liveable city.

Tonight around 8 o’clock all the new students from the residence from EF Eastbourne will get a tour around the city and after that, we will go for a drink. Tomorrow morning I have to be in school at 8, all the 120 new students will have an introduction day. Tuesday, the real lessons will start. Oh, and by the way, school is like 3 minutes away from the residence.

I already love it here!