How To Prepare To Live In Another Country

Living in a different country is hard, especially if you have never been out of your home country before. I had never left the United States, the closest I got was seeing the Canadian side at Niagara Falls. Which obviously doesn’t count, since it looked pretty much the same as the New York side. Before I left to live in Italy for 5 months, I took a Florence Orientation class which was supposed to prepare us to living in a different country but it was a waste of time since everything we talked about wasn’t important.

Maybe it’s because the class was full of fashion students but the teacher talked about Italian fashion until your ears fell off. Talked about how much better Italian fashion was compared to American fashion, how well dressed the average Italian person is, how they will judge you if you do not look amazing like they do, how they tell you to NOT dress like an American, to ignore the baggage fees and bring the biggest bag you have with wheels despite the cobblestone streets. How you are in Italy so you will never have a cheeseburger or chicken nugget ever again till you come back home, and probably the biggest one I heard: Italians are SUPER RUDE.

None of these was helpful. First of all, while I’ll admit that Italians value style over comfort (which is the other way around to Americans) the overall style in Italy is very relaxed. My class made the impression that Italians practically walk around in ballgowns or something when I saw plenty of them wear leggings and a nice shirt. They wore jeans and tennis shoes and those weird puffy jackets. I had wasted all my extra room in my suitcase by bringing slacks and fancy shoes that I only ever suffer through for job interviews thinking that I would have to wear this around Italy instead of bringing clothes I would’ve actually liked to have worn. Those clothes sat in the back of my closet in my Italian apartment and I had to buy all new clothes.

Wearing what I wanted never held me back and I fooled a lot of Italians thinking I was also from here until I tried speaking terrible broken Italian with my American accent. People can wear they want in Italy just like in the United States. They have Forever 21, Zara, and H&M all along the streets so the street styles weren’t that much different. While you probably couldn’t get into one of the famous cathedrals in shorts and flip flops, I went into all of them with jeans and worn out combat boots and no one blinked an eye.

As for the luggage, I brought a large suitcase with wheels, a duffel bag, a shoulder bag for school, and a nice cross body purse. The suitcase was obviously for most of my storage, the duffel bag was for weekend trips I traveled to on my days off. This worked out better than paying extra for giant suitcases the teachers recommended. “Oh, you won’t want to carry your luggage everywhere, just pay extra.” Well that’s nice for them if they got that money but unless they are offering to pay for your luggage, just bring a duffel bag. Mine fit on top of my wheeled suitcase so it never bothered me.

The food surprised me, not because I never ate another chicken nugget but because of the way its prepared. They have McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway in Italy. In France, they even had a Chipotle that the other girls went to. Don’t worry, if you miss American food there are places to get them. But the ways the cuisine surprised me was the fact that Italian food is very simple. Maybe it is because of the certain way I cook my own pasta at home or maybe I went to Olive Garden one too many times, but I was surprised on how little ingredients went into the food. Italian food is all about quality over quantity. They would rather eat a simple sandwich that had 4 things on it with NO sauce if all the ingredients were fresh. Fresh bread, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil leaves, fresh slice of turkey, and maybe a freshly sliced tomato. Spaghetti is noodles and sauce. Lasagna is noodles and sauce. Pizza is dough, sauce, and some sparsely sliced cheese. Salad was lettuce, olives, and olive oil. No dressing. That’s it.

It was good because you could taste the difference in how fresh everything was, but I always thought it was lacking somehow. I missed vegetables on my sandwiches with lots of sauce, I missed cheesy mushroom onion pasta, and meat lover pizza. The food was a little plain for my taste, but I thought it was all good none the less. I lived next to an Indian market and a Chinese restaurant so I got to eat Indian food and egg rolls whenever pasta got to be too much.

Most importantly, Italians are not rude people. If you don’t walk around at night drunk off your ass, or refuse to speak in Italian, or not bother learning about the culture, Italians will treat you nice. Yes, believe it or not, Italians don’t like rude loud people puking by their businesses because they can’t drink responsibly without bothering to speak in the language of the land. Younger Italians are mostly fluent in English anyways and the older Italians who maybe aren’t fluent in English were nice enough to try to speak Italian slow for me to understand.

Of course, you will pass by the occasional asshole who cat calls or is rude to you but hello there are ass hats in the United States too. *cough POTUS cough* Speaking of which, I believe every single person I talked to didn’t really like Trump so regardless of your political beliefs, I would leave political shirts at home.

And by the way, Europe has the worst street signs ever. I got lost almost every day despite having a map because locating street signs may be on the top of a building or not posted at all. If you run out of contact solution you will have to go to a pharmacy instead because obviously, there are no Walmart’s in Europe. You won’t need a prescription but you will need to figure out the old solution because it’s the old-fashioned bottle that you have to rub for 5 minutes or so before you can stick it into your eye.

  1. Water is not free
  2. There are no water fountains in Europe
  3. They don’t put ice in their drinks
  4. You will not get a free refill on any drink
  5. Cappuccinos are only drunk in the morning
  6. Getting something “to go” is not heard of so if you didn’t finish something, oh well.
  7. They have “cover charges” at restaurants which means you have to pay 7 euros to enter on top of your bill instead of tipping
  8. Do not sit down to drink your coffee or you will get hit with a “cover charge”. Italians just stand and drink it instead.
  9. They give you a basket of bread on the table but it is not free like it is in America. They will charge you for it unless you say something to them.
  10. Also, the phrase “top it up” means to add money to your card. I didn’t know that and some British guy yelled at me for it.

Living in a different country is tough, everything is in a different language everything is unfamiliar. But the best parts are exploring the non-touristy places and living like a real local. Because this isn’t a vacation where you go to a different country for few days, this is you actually living here experiencing the country. Enjoy it, explore, and eat a lot of good food. You’ll never want to go home when you are there and look for every opportunity to go back once you are home.

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Salem Thunderbird Witch

 

I went to Salem, Massachusetts for the first time and it was very magical! It was my first time in the New England area which was full of history. It amazes me that this area was around in the 1600’s even before the Revolutionary War! It is basically the oldest part within our country! (besides the Native American history obviously)

There was the House of Seven Gables which inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne for his many books, Ye Olde Pepper Comanie Candies which is the oldest candy store in the entire US! I saw the Witch House where the trails were done and the haunted cemetery where the poor people ended up being buried. I also got to the see the Samantha statue from Bewitched! I remember watching that show with my mom growing up. I didn’t think there would be a statue of her in Salem, it cracked me up!

There were also lots of fun little shoppes and cafes where you can buy Ouija Boards, wands, and spell books. I ended up just buying a witch ball which I can hang in my future apartment! I also found this cool necklace about the date I was born on (26th) but I don’t really think it fits me. I wouldn’t say I’m a leader or very practical, but whatever it was just for fun.

The food there was soooooo good. I tried New England clam chowder (not pictured) but I wish it was, I didn’t even stop to take a picture of it because it was eaten so fast lol. I also got calamari which was so fresh, they still had the tentacles on! I wish I could’ve tried a lobster roll, because I know that is another famous dish in the New England area, but it was a bit expensive. Maybe another time when I’m not in college!

Salem was lots of fun, very crowded around Halloween though. I wasn’t even trying to go on Halloween, it just ended up being a free weekend that time. So if anyone cares for my advise, I would go another time. The lines were so ridiculous and it was very cold to be out on a October night. But oh well, another place crossed off my list! More adventures soon!

-Z

P.S. Is anyone a HUGE Harry Potter fan like me? Did you read the new stories on the American witchcraft and wizardry school by JK Rowling? I got sorted into Thunderbird! I think I fit very well into that house! Plus the school is in Salem! So whoooo! Didn’t see it though, guess I’m a No-Maj 😦  Can’t wait for the new movie to come out soon!

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Last semester, Last season

Guys, I have been MIA on the blog but only because life has been pretty crazy. I’m going to try to keep it more updated. I do actually want to do better, I enjoy writing on this and providing an outlet for my passions. I am graduating in December (hopefully if I can pass all my classes lol) and I’m applying for jobs. Its hard when you know everyone else is competing with you or people who had a more successful internship than I did. Nordstrom was a great place and I learned a lot but Washington D.C. is not my calling I guess.

However I have the rest of the world to try out and I actually applied for a job in Paris! I doubt I will get that since I am sure they want to hire people who actually live in the area first. Especially since I would need a work visa and all that other mess to move to a different country. But it doesn’t hurt to apply and keep trying. I’m open to all possibilities.

It is kind of scary how this is my last semester of school. Not about finding a job, but the fact that this is all I’ve done my whole life. I went to Kindergarten when I was 4 and I’ve been doing it every year of my life since then. I just turned 23 and I think to myself “What am I supposed to do now?”. Sure, I’ve had jobs before in the summer just saving money for college but it’s weird to think that’s pretty much all I’ll ever do now. Just work. No homework, no taking fun classes, or learning new things, or buying fresh notebooks to write your projects in, or grabbing coffee after class with your friends because the cafe is right there, or finding a cute book-bag for your schoolwork. It is weird to think that this season or chapter of my life is now over with. Or at least will be in 2 months.

I got plenty of new things to look forward to I guess, like my first apartment or my first promotion or cooking thanksgiving dinner by myself (which will probably just be a T.V. dinner if I’m honest lol). Its new things to adjust to! Good thing I love to try new things! Just like my new oil slick hair or tattoo or when I tried to make clothes for a store and it actually sold! My dress I MADE is sold in stores! Whoooo! I have decided that I’m wearing it for my graduation! I just gotta make my graduation cap. Its trendy to decorate it now? What design should I even do?? Decisions, decisions!

I’ll write more, thanks for whoever is still sticking around!

-Z

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Nordstrom Internship!

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So I am back in the states and I got an internship at Nordstrom in the D.C. area! I have been to Washington D.C. six times already but I have never lived here! Already I’m getting used to the traffic, so much different than driving through Ohio. Plus only being in America for three weeks on top of jet lag, unpacking and repacking, business outfits, and getting everything ready for an entirely different area!

I enjoy being back in America, things make a bit more sense although I do miss living in Italy. I’m glad I got the opportunity to live in Europe and be around all the beautiful cities. It hurt my wallet but I don’t regret anything, except for ordering tuna fish pizza one time while I was there. That was a very bad mistake.

I’m graduating in December this year and I was informed last year that I wouldn’t be allowed to graduate unless I got an internship this summer. So as inconvenient as it was that I was in an entirely different country  for the last five months, I still applied to so many places dealing with the different time zones and Skype interviews. I heard back from a few but I decided that Nordstrom was the best fit for me. Unfortunately, it is in an entirely different state than Ohio so that meant that I had to move almost as soon as I got back to America.

But I did it, repacked my bags from Italy and put them right back in the car and drove 9 hours to my new housing area. I started my internship Wednesday and I like it a lot so far. The people are nice and I think this will prove to open opportunities for me, especially after I graduate. Fashion is a busy world, I’m just trying to keep up with it!

More adventures ahead!

-Z

 

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My Luck of the Irish

Ireland was the last trip of my adventure in Europe. And what a trip to end off in a bang! I went to Dublin, Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher! I can say that being in Ireland was a breath of fresh air. They split checks and give you free water! I haven’t heard those words in a long time. Everything was so beautiful and bright, the weather wasn’t even that bad either! Plus if I didn’t talk about it in my London post, I’ll say it here, that the accents are so awesome. It is also very nice to be around people who speak English, even if it is still a bit different. I saw Dublin’s castle, the oldest church in Ireland (its older than our entire country!) and the staircase that was in PS I Love You. Too bad Gerald Butler isn’t even Irish. 😦

I went to Guinness brewing factory and learned how they make the famous beer and they taught me how to correctly pour my own glass. I guess if college totally fails I can always be a bartender? I also went on my last pub crawl which is what Europeans just call bar hopping, but you can sign up and they take you to all the best pubs and clubs in Dublin. Which I guess is better than wandering around the unfamiliar city at night alone, so I’m glad I went.

Galway and Moher were all the way across the country, about a three hour bus ride to it and back but it was worth it to see the cliffs. Standing on the edge of Ireland and knowing in the great off distance is home where I’ll be in a few days was rather surreal. I will definitely miss buying a cheap plane ticket and running off to whatever country fits my fancy. Plane tickets being cheap is definitely unheard of in America!

Finals week is coming and I have a lot of studying and packing to do. I somehow have to fit five months worth of stuff in my one little suitcase I brought. It will probably go horrible lol Oh well, maybe I’ll do a post about how to pack properly. Even I could use the tips. We’ll see how it goes!

Keep ya posted,

-Z

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Springfest!

Springfest in Munich, Germany was a good experience to have. I didn’t really mean to plan two trips to Germany and at first I thought a lot about maybe cancelling it. But I’m actually really glad I went, it was a very different experience from my first trip to Germany in Berlin. Berlin is the capital of Germany and it had a very city like feel to it with the history of the Berlin Wall and the Nazi main Führer headquarters. But Munich held a much more different history of being one of the first concentration camps to be built. I debated on even posting the pictures of the camp site because I felt a strong contradiction towards the other fun parts of the weekend I did. But I thought it wouldn’t be good to ignore it either. So I decided to include everything I did and I don’t intend to offend anyone by posting the history I saw.

Springfest is just the same as Oktoberfest except obviously not in October and is in the spring instead. Which as all the German locals told me, Springfest is better than Oktoberfest because everyone and their dog comes to Oktoberfest and its so crowded and overwhelming. I had a such a fun time drinking a stein of beer and dressing up in a dirndl while eating German food! I got currywurst, doughnut cone, and schlosspfanne which were all very delicious. German food definitely fills you up!

I also went to Neuschanstein castle which as everyone knows Walt Disney modeled Sleeping Beauty after it and you can tell where Disney got a lot of his inspiration from. All the way from the bed chambers, staircase, throne room, it was very beautiful to look at. I loved the ride to the castle too, it was almost in the middle of nowhere through the woods and mountains and then out popped a gorgeous castle just like in all the fairy tale books. I wish America had history like that, super old castles and mountains that seem to be bursting with secrets.

I am glad I ended up going on this trip, I would have hated to miss out on everything I saw and some of the things I did. Europe is such an enchanting place, I will definitely hate leaving this place. Which unfortunately is coming up soon. Noooooo

I still have some adventures left before I leave though!

-Z

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London’s calling

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London is calling! I had so much fun in England, I wish I could’ve stayed longer. There was so much to see and do I will definitely have to come back one day. Of course if anyone knows me they know I’m a HUGE HUGE Harry Potter fan. One can not simply go to England and not see Harry Potter references. The first thing I did after I booked a flight to London was buy Harry Potter tickets. I didn’t even book a place to stay as that wasn’t as important to me!! I would’ve slept in a box if I had to lol

Luckily for me the day I went was the same day that Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone was released so everyone was having a big party and had extra sets out for this anniversary. I was so happy and excited, I have a million more photos of this occasion but I figured I would spare everyone the job of looking through all of it. I tried butterbeer which is the most amazing thing I have probably ever drank. Why does it not exist all the time???

I did see other things besides Harry Potter though! I went to the Tower of London and had a scoop of iced strawberry clotted cream. I wasn’t sure what clotted cream was but it sounded very British so that’s mainly why I got it. It was good, tasted like a creamier version of a strawberry ice cream cone. I also did a tour at night of Jack the Ripper and all the haunted experiences near the Tower of London. It was extremely cool to experience.

I had to try the traditional English breakfast which is eggs, sausage, mushrooms, “bacon”, toast, and baked beans. The baked beans threw me off, it was very strange to eat for breakfast. In America, baked beans are usually only eaten during a summer cookout barbecue with cheeseburgers, hotdogs, macaroni salad, and baked beans. You would never ever eat it for breakfast. But it tasted pretty good! I might go home and shock everyone one morning by opening a can of beans lol And I’m just going to say it, stereotypical American or not, that is not real bacon lol it tasted more like ham.

Food in England was awesome! I wasn’t expecting much since everyone says bad things about it but I didn’t think it was as bland as everyone complains about. I suppose it’s probably people who live off amazing French cuisine and bump up one country ahead and are shocked by the difference. Who knows.

London was amazing! Seeing the changing of the guards which I’ve only ever seen in America was so cool. I liked their fuzzy black hats, it was intense! I definitely can’t wait to have the excuse to run off to England again! Hopefully I can see all the stuff I missed.

Over and out,

-Z

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Spring Break!

Spring break was so much fun, I traveled to Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Austria. It was super intense fitting everything into one week and three days but I managed to get it all done!

Growing up I was obsessed with The Cheetah Girls and I always told myself I would go to Barcelona like they did in their second movie! And I actually got to do it! I even sat where they sat when they sang “Strut”. It was embarrassingly exciting lol Also Spanish food was so good. I had paellas and fried rice chicken rolls which I could have easily eaten all day. Sagrada Familia was crazy beautiful, I’ll just have to come back in 10 years when it is finished! Then we saw a water show, which was supposed to be modeled after Disney’s World of Color. I’m glad I got to see it, it was very cool.

Paris, Paris, Paris ❤ city after my own heart if it wasn’t already taken by New York City. Paris was the number one place I knew I just had to see. I even got kind of emotional when I turned the corner and saw the Eiffel Tower shining at me like a stand of sparklers and starry crystals shimmering brightly. Maybe its cliche to say but I don’t care, I’ve wanted to go to Paris ever since I was young enough to understand a map. I even remember staying in Washington DC for thanksgiving when I was in 10th grade at my aunts house and I had the Eiffel Tower as my computer screen saver I found online. My aunts sister came over to me and looked at my computer and we started talking and I said that I hoped I could go to Paris one day and I remember her telling me that she believed I would and me just smiling politely thinking that going to Paris was such a big dream that it was almost unattainable. But I actually did it! High five for 10th grade me! Hot flaky croissants, delicious garlic escargot, Parisian cappuccinos, and chocolate raspberry macaroons from Ladurée, I was simply in heaven. I stood at the very tippy top of the Eiffel Tower and looked over France and I somehow knew that I made it. Even if I am just a college student, even if I am just some girl from the US with big dreams, I knew in that moment I had accomplished something. I won’t ever forget that feeling.

I then left Paris (very unwillingly, I might add) to head off to Amsterdam! Amsterdam was cooler than I thought it was going to be, I went to Vincent Van Gogh museum and toured through his amazing paintings. Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists so it was really cool to see his work in person. He has such a characteristic way of painting, he put all my artwork to shame. (not that I ever thought I could compare to him, but it was a definite reminder when I saw his work lol) I also took a tour of The Red Light District which I definitely did not think I would like but I was wrong again lol it opened my eyes to sex workers and how legalizing it not only got rid of sex trafficking but also gets rid of pimps because the girls make their own money and keep it all to themselves. It kind of reminded me of the argument people make in the US towards things like abortion where some people are convinced that if it was illegal than all acts would stop. But it really just makes it unsafe because then you get black market/ back alley situations of people doing it in secret. But that is an entirely different topic post! lol on a more somber level, I went to Anne Frank’s house and was touched by her family’s bravery and perseverance. Seeing the actual bookshelf that hid her family and two others for two years, the markings on the wall of how much the children grew, and the huge yellow star that they were forced to wear was such a humbling experience. I am so glad I got up at 5 in the morning (although it didn’t open till 9) to wait in line to see it. It was worth every second.

Berlin was good too! Got to see where Hitler died and was burned, went to the Berlin Wall (obviously), I also went to a haunted house, and ate lots of schnitzel with noodles and pretzels! I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in Germany so I am going back for Springfest and hopefully will get to buy a dirndl! They look pretty and traditional!

Austria was also a quick stop, long enough to eat an apple strudel and see how the hills were alive with the sound of music. It was such a exhausting week, but I am glad I was lucky enough to experience traveling western Europe, I don’t want to take anything for granted.

More adventures ahead! Stay tuned! -Z

 

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When in Rome…

Rome was AMAZING. If anything go to this place. Everything is so good and historical, everything I looked at felt like it was important! I met with fashion designers such as Fondazione Micol Fontana and talked about materials, sketches, inspiration, and craftsmanship. It felt so cool talking to someone who spent their whole life doing fashion. Its such an inspiration to see people doing what they love to do as a living. It makes me feel that it is possible to pursue a career in fashion. I’m so determined to make a career out of this, I know so many people who judged me for getting this degree, who told me it was stupid and I would be jobless. Looking at other people doing it and talking to them, I know that it is possible and I can do it if I keep working hard.

I also went to Cinecittà which is like Italy’s Hollywood. They make famous movies there like Ben Hur, Cleopatra, and Spaghetti Western movies with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx. I also went to the Sistine Chapel and saw Michelangelo’s famous paintings, and the church was cool because it was the year of the Jubilee which means every 15 years you can walk through the church doors and God will forgive you of your sins. I felt really lucky to witness that even if I don’t quite believe in it. Of course I went to the Colosseum and saw so many Roman ruins. I ate carbonara pasta, which is a specialty in Rome. It’s kind of like a cheesy, bacon, egg pasta. It tasted like breakfast. Which I miss American food sometimes being over here for almost half a year.

My next trip was spring break which I will post about later. So many places, so many pictures! Have to sort through them all!

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Pisa to Venice

I don’t think you can live in Italy for 5 months and not see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was incredible, one of the most famous buildings in the world. Almost 300 steps I was able to climb to the very top and over look the entire city. It was very beautiful, although I would definitely only make it a day trip, the town is too small and there isn’t much to do after the tower.

Venice was a day trip too. The underwater city was magical and bright. It amazes me how there is no such thing as a car or bike or something. Everything is just traveled to by big and little boats. I wasn’t allowed to ride in the gondolas because I went by myself and you can only have 6 people in the boat. So that was a big disappointment but oh well. I would definitely recommend coming to both places. Both cities are so beautiful.

 

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