Friday, January 7, 2011

NEW BLOG please read***

Hey guys, moving over to wordpress so please update your blogroll if you want to see my posts .. if not I wont be offended ;) ... thanks guys and cheers to 2011!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Work contracts in Italy... is Denmark the one to watch?

So i wrote about this on so feel free to comment there ( more readers ) .. but why not put these thoughts on my little albeit lonely blog.

I was talking with my (Italian ) bf the other night about the contract system in Italy and I wanted to see everyone’s take on it? I understand that everyone wants the “coveted” contratto indeterminato or open-ended contract which is like having a tenure job, but that many people have temporary contracts or collaboration ones.

After reading articles about companies moving from Italy ( like the most recent about FIAT complaining about Italy ) to other countries and the fights between the unions and the companies, I can’t help but wonder what Italians and others think about the way the system is . Should people have a guaranteed job even if they aren’t good at it? Or is it a right people should have after working for a company after a few years, because banks won’t give loans to people if they don’t have a “guarantee” ie: open ended contract. Is this why there are so many people with temporary or precarious contracts because companies are afraid to hire more people or just watching their back.

The model I am most curious about is the Danish one .…

“Robust unemployment compensation is a key feature of Denmark’s labor market model, studied so widely in recent years that it rivals Carlsberg beer and Lego toys among the Scandinavian nation’s most famous trademarks.

Called “flexicurity,” it combines flexibility for employers to hire and fire workers with financial security for the unemployed. And experts say it helps explain why both Danish businesses and workers are entering the global downturn in better shape than most of their Western peers.”

“Perhaps more surprisingly, the system also enjoys support from union leaders, who say a flexible labor market is needed to guarantee jobs in the future.

“Our goal in the union is not to defend people’s jobs but to make sure that their next job is available,” says Kristian Madsen, spokesman for the United Federation of Danish Workers, the country’s biggest union. “When I tell my American colleagues, they can’t really wrap their heads around that way of thinking.”“

I wonder if that could ever work in Italy or if people would even be open to a system such as in Denmark, or if we just continue to see these high profile fights and demonstrations for years to come.. In the meantime I better get back to work ;)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Expat Assholes

So I was inspired to write this post after the expatsinitaly website posted an interview by expatsexchange ( complicated enough? ) by someone who clearly did not enjoy living in Florence. Fair enough, Florence is definitely not meant for everyone, there are times I need to escape too but what struck me as unique was with how much venom this person spoke about Italians and Florentines..

Here is the link to the interview

And here are some of my favorite quotes:

If they speak another language in your new country, do you speak the language? If yes, did you learn the language before you moved or while abroad? If no, are you planning to learn the language?

I tried to learn some Italian before moving to Italy. I took Italian lessons once I got here. The Italian style of teaching and speaking goes all over the place and spirals around the main idea you want to get across. My tutor taught in this same manner and I got frustrated and quit after 3 months. I learned more on my own with a dictionary and trial and error on my own. Am I anywhere near fluent.... heck no! ....but I get by now. “

Um the best part about this is that he/she actually BLAMES the “Italian style" of teaching for his own inadequacies in learning the language.. Already a bad sign if you ask me.. Everyone knows the only way you actually learn is to surround yourself in an all Italian speaking environment but hey he “gets by" so I’m sure that enough to make this “expat asshole “ speak “facts” about the place he has lived in for a few years?

Next quote

“How significant was the culture shock you experienced when you moved abroad?

Awful! I was basically dropped here by my employer and expected to find housing, get a bank account, health care, etc. on my own. Only when my attempts failed a few times would they find a way to send somebody to help. Nobody affiliated with my work is really interested in helping new comers much. Most foreigners are married to Italians and just worry about their own lives. When asked for help, they usually have a million excuses to not be available. These people are very friendly, but not willing to help. “

Um what? Since when is your employer required to help you with the move? My father works for immigration in the USA and has lived everywhere in the world and has arranged his own details from Guatemala to Haiti with minimum help on the way.. News flash dude, this is the new 2010.. PLUS I know from going on boards like expats in Italy, people are generally VERY helpful. I have contacted at least 4 or 5 people and took them to the questura/post office/ etc etc.

Expats often talk about going through the "stages of culture shock." Examples include the honeymoon phase, the irritation-to-anger stage, the rejection of the culture stage, and the cultural adjustment phase. Do you feel like you went through these or any other stages as you settled into the new culture?

I had so much difficulty initially settling in that I never experienced a honeymoon phase. I have been frustrated from day one. Every day is a challenge here. Italians make things much more difficult than need be. It's almost like they intentionally do it to foreigners here in Florence. I am here almost 2 years and leaving in June. I have never gotten out of the irritation, frustration phase. “

So ok he’s been here two years. And can “get by “ with the language.. First mistake, once you fluently speak Italian you see how many of the things that frustrated you before , or much easier resolved when you can clearly get your point across ( and at the very least argue your case in Italian ) .. . Intentionally is a strong word and I am guessing he had some rough contact with Italians and probably took things/.everything personally…

“What, if any, were some of the changes you noticed in yourself that might have been caused by culture shock? These might include things such as anger, depression, anxiety, increased eating or drinking, frustration, homesickness, etc.

All of the above and experiencing depression like never before. Most foreigners here are married to Italians and there is no real expat atmosphere. It has been very isolating. Sure, I have my regular group of friends to go and do things with and I get out and have fun, but it is a small group and, quite honestly, this town gets stale quite quickly (unless you're a barfly). I have done quite a bit of reading since I have been here. “

Seriously? There is like 4 expat groups in Florence alone,, YAWN, INToscana, St.james church group.. Mah? PLUS the Odeon movie theatre has many English movies, aperativos, right now there is even a film festival ( and was last year  ) , as well as food festivals, galas.. It takes two- to- tango dude.. You actually have to DO the research , which would take about 5 seconds via the internet or a trip to the information office where they have brochures of upcoming events..

And lastly but NOT the least offensive

“What are the most challenging aspects of the new culture?

Most Florentines are not friendly and do not care for foreigners. Nothing here has to be as difficult as they actually make it. If it's not Italian, it's not as good. Italians have a lot of pride in themselves and are some of the most arrogant and racist people I have ever met. They are also the most self-centered I have ever encountered....Italy starts with I! If there is a line, one will always jump to the front and ask questions, etc. There is no consideration if there are people waiting behind them, they will take their time to get their stuff done first (b/c it's all about them :0)) Itlians are VERY loud and unaware of when they are yelling in your ear or on their phones in a contained public space (ie bus, office, etc.). There are museums, cafes, restaurants and shopping; however, after a month or two, the novelty wears off. I prefer big cities and a wide variety of entertainment options. Florence doesn't have this. “

Wow some strong statements once again which leads me to think that A. he really is an expat asshole and B. he by saying the Italians are arrogant, comes off bit arrogant himself , no?  He is basically generalizing a group of people that really are very different, and calling all Florentines out. Yes Florentines are typically closed but that’s  A. towards other Italians that aren't from Florence as well, and a pretty common trait  from anyone who hasn’t MOVED and probably has their own set group of established friends. People come and go in Florence and generally Florentines know that most foreigners will move on . You have to work hard at making friendships but to be honest, I have found that everywhere I have lived and because of that extra work put in on my part, the relationships were even stronger.

Now , I really can understand frustration , after all I posted many blog posts about experiences, good and bad  in Florence. But the difference is I try and I emphasize the word "TRY" not to make sweeping generalizations and polarize myself and the very people I am trying to live around in such a way as this. Imagine if you are a Florentine reading this article? How would you feel? Obviously there are Italians that speak English and it doesn’t bode well to read that “your people “ are all like this or like that or feel this or feel that..

I mean come on.. Have some respect, no-one knocked on your door and begged you to live there. To be honest I have found some of my countrymen/women to be the LEAST adaptable of the international countries here and people just do it to themselves by complaining about everything that is different and wrong, and not putting in the effort required to fit-in ( language, socially) .

It's ok to complain but just don’t go on and on like a broken record or people really are not going to want to be around you, especially those you are trying to befriend.. Really..

I’ve learned a lot these past 5 years on and off in Florence, had the bad times and good times but lesson number one, respect is key, communication is key ( which is why it is INTEGRAL that you learn the language of the country in which your living ) , and most likely things will be better , a whole new world opens up to you when you can effectively communicate.

And don’t compare cause its just not going to do anything for you but frustrate you..It really is ok to NOT like the place you are living in and want to move, it really iS!. But, what is NOT ok is to publicly bash an entire country and its people because of a short stint you had in the city ( talk about it with your friends ( don‘t think he has many) or in private sure  but in an interview ? I dunno.. TACT is a word that is underestimated these days..

I know some Italians that are very "proud" of all things Italian, who doesn't , but I also know that about more than a few Americans.. it goes both ways on that gravy train trust me!

so folks that is an example of an "expat asshole " in my book or "stronzo" in the italian way.. almeno le parolacce in Italiano sempre funzione bene ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Food overdose , guess that "career " as a top model is over lol..

Can you overdose on good food? Well you can certainly feel bloated and kick up those exercise gears up a notch!….

Food, food, and alas…more food! I feel like the past few weeks have been dominated with all that I love about Italy.. And more.. T-mans mom had the relatives over last week and what does that mean in our house? Um… try 2 days of planning, getting out the good China and hijacking our “kitchen” downstairs.. I pretty retreated to the cave like comfort of our bedroom while mamma executed the lunch layout with military like precision..

Needless to say lunch was fantastic.. Antipasto, lasagna, grilled meats and veggies and dessert… wine was flowing and eventually the lemon cello too.. Plus meeting his second cousins was a great experience, I am so grateful and happy to speak Italian well enough to actually ( finally ) show my personality and not just fall flat like many learning a second language.. One thing ive learned in Italy is to be respected you need to take (sarcasm ) and dish it out and you will be loved.. Hah that I can do!

Besides amazing lunch we hit up a sagra ( food festival ) of steak in the countryside, Sagginale to be exact.. In the middle of nowhere there was a Texas like layout of tables, grills, people and boy did we eat… a HUGE steak , first plate of pasta, fries, wine, water and dessert for 12 euros each, your NEVER going to find THAT in the center of Florence.. That about covers wine and the coperto ( cover charge ) ..

Gianna holding up a steak even texas would be proud of!

I can't help it.. i like MEAT

italy IS like texas... sort of.. well theres a horse..

with the girlies..

We also checked out the “terra futuro” at the fortezza which was interesting, possibly my fav part was the old man wrapped in toilet paper walking around an handing people toilet paper flowers… I doubt he was part of the program but alas… it made me laugh..

And the gelato festival? Don’t even get me started…

Food hangover… ensues.. Now how to fit in the clothes I got for Barcelona.. A better question..

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Updates, lemon land, and "god-girl" ...

 I know ive been hopelessly not keeping up with this blog , I cant believe the last time I wrote it was February and now its mid-may, where has the time flown??? Pretty fast if you ask me! These four months have been crazy, a whirlwind of work, fun, horrible weather and did I mention work?

2010 all in all has been a great year so far, we all know theirs a recession, half the country hates obama, not to mention Berlusconi but I don’t care.. I listen to my pod casts ( planet money, frontline and BBC are faves ) and get angry, sad, thoughtful everyday,. Thank god something like that exists. I take the bus everyday to work and during that time I listen to my updated pod casts which fills me in to everything from Uganda to Tennessee.. And I have gained such a greater knowledge in all sorts of crazy stuff like hedge funds, derivatives, political system in Egypt.. Amazing.. ! T-man just looks at me as if I am crazy and laughs at my “obsessive” hobbies but I think he secretly loves it .. ( or hates it and I am just flattering myself here.. A def. option ) .. I do have an obsessive side to my personality where politics/news/social issues are concerned but personally I like to blame this anomaly on my youth and passion for uncomfortable issues.. Crikey!

So at home ..all is good. T-mans mom hasn’t killed me yet and I haven’t turned into an ironing monster tending to t-mans socks, underwear and 80’s style sweatbands.. As strange as it sounds, I’m used to living with them and when get out own house.. Imp going to miss her, maybe not the intrusive bedroom cleanup visits while we’re at work but you get what I mean.. despite the fact that I sometimes think I am an alien from a distance galaxy not to be confused with XENU ( sorry tom cruise ) to Italian women.. It works..

Work is good and always better.. I have the fun job of paying taxes both in the USA and here but I am not complaining.. its my duty and yes I partake in the social health care ( not to be likened with socialist Stalin’s regime and babies routinely picked through and thrown out that “Fauxnews” and people like Glenn beck would like you to believe ) . I get sick, I go to a doctor , I get treated , all is well in the world.. And you know what? Because of the food, I never get sick haha! Win win! But I have been to the hospital here ( minor car accident ) and I can assure you , no surgery was getting done without anesthesia or rusty medical equipment … sorry to disappoint !

I had the pleasure of going to the Amalfi coast with my friend Gianna and her new boyfriend “English Andy” ( can you guess where he’s from? ) .. It was a short trip, Thursday to Sunday but it was AMAZING.. After weeks of new England type weather I was ready to adopt Vodka as water but then came amalfi.. A less-painful than pre-thought bus ride to the coast and then a good nights sleep in a hotel room resembling the shining ( literally we dragged Andy in our room due to the bright creepy blue doors and fluorescent lighting but there was a nice balcony.. Strange.. ) we were ready for a boat trip around Capri ( AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ) , just absolutely gorgeous, the lagoons, the rocks, the expensive houses I will never set foot in.. and even the rocky beaches were ok with me because there was SUN! The 2nd day we toured Positano which was just as gorgeous although sadly we did not run into Raul Bova as presumed.. Another boat ride with some cliff-jumping ( yep… ) and lagoon swimming and another nap on the beach… the list goes on and on.. The only damper in the trip was an annoying girl who was very into her religion and of course I somehow got stuck one dinner next to her as she chatted about “god being part of her life and defining her” . Of course I was a bit of a devils advocate and mentioned xenu, Allah and the like but that didn’t go over too well.. ) , normally all for it but come on… its dinner, I want my wine and to talk about the last season of LOST, geez!

Of course “annoying god girl” as she is now called complained about EVERYTHING! , the hotel provided free breakfast and dinner and god girl was not pleased about dinner the 2nd night, after waiting for the 3 rd course ( yes I said 3rd ) she went up to the organizer and asked for a “salad” to which the organizer apologized profusely and mentioned the variety in the 4 thousand courses we served ( keep in mind the organizer asked the night before if that nights menu was ok with everyone and nothing was said in the contrary).. .god girls reply? “ I only ate potatoes “ which pretty much was the phrase of the rest of our trip… “gianna, can you pick it up a bit? “… gianna’s reply “ I only ate potatoes, give me a BREAK!”. f*** off!

If that wasn’t bad enough on the way home we were watching movies on the bus , sound quality was good and there was “4 weddings and a funeral“, No-one was complaining until “god girls” ear chords were disturbed while reciting Judith 2.3 or the like and she complained it was too loud or “piercing her ears”…. ( like my ears were when she explained her bond with herself - god and her plans to get a masters in theology at dinner nonstop ) the movie was turned down. Immediately after everyone else complained the sound was too low.. So the organizer put everyone in check and said “what do you WANT people!”.. to which I spoke and mentioned I had a nice pair of ear-buds for those who wanted a quieter Zen like experience on the bus… all was good in the world until we came to the most expensive auto grill EVER! I wanted to report then to “strizia della notizia” , 16 euros for crap pasta and peas? But what can you do! All in all.. Great trip with good friends,, and god girl is a great story after all, I wish her well as a future “marriage counselor” in the temple.. Buona fortuna!

Island of Capri and a nostalgic man..

sweet baby angel took a nap on the ferry

relaxing on the rocky beach... paradiso

a fish decided to make a run for it... that can't be fun to grab! yikes!

grapes, panino... sun... um yeah they had to drag me away!

cactuse's aren't just in Arizona.. Capri as well! who knew!

in about 5 minutes.. he will be breaking out into hot pants and YMCA theme song

lunch on the sea..after "god girls" unwelcome interruption.. aghhhhh

the view from our boat... positano.. anyone want to come visit now?

So what’s next? Got Barcelona for 5 days in June and then chill summer. So far so good…

After all.. I only ate potatoes…

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Random thoughts of the day..and a castle

so this weekend was very interesting, I spent a quiet Friday hanging out with Tina ( from Tinatangos ) and we enjoyed a yummy aperativo at Noir. I am getting so SICK of pasta so it was breath of fresh air to havef resh cheeses, meats, honey, veggies.. I am hungry again. She met a few of my friends and we headed over to my favorite wine bar. A dark little place called "sei divino" ( clever huh! hehe) where the people are friendly and the wine is amazing. Tina is a fun person who I was thrilled to finally meet in person... which means a trip to Perugia is in the cards!

having wine and a chat... :)

Living in Florence keeps me sane because of the access I have to meeting people from all over the world.. I tend to relate more to english speakers ( obviously ) because even though I do speak Italian ..I miss cultural idioms and humor and all of the above..Plus i have left my country and set up shop elsewhere which makes you a different person that those who have never done so.. Luckily i have the wonderful family of t-man but I really lack Italian girlfriends which one day I hope to have..  Plus Its nice when people focus on who you really are instead of the fact that your "American".. I try not to be the kind of person that says.. your english therefore..... or italians do.. I understand people generalize ( its natural and I have done as well but at least i live here as opposed to just having an opinion) but in the end I grew up in a place that was ethnically diverse ( san antonio, texas  which people may not know! ) and it does bother me when I read "Americans this.. or Americans that... " most of these people haven't lived in America or have ( in my experience ) spent that much time with "americans" so I just kind of nod and try to be nice when I hear that.... boh!

so I have to mention ( has nothing to do with anything really) .. I have been looking for the perfect pair of rainboots.. and sadly due to me wearing a 40-41 its almost impossible to find.. and I didnt want to pay an arm and a leg for boots meant to be sloshing around rainy Florence.. and guess what! I finally found my new fav pairs of "shoes"..


and so the castle... a friend of mine invited me and whomever I wanted to a "castle party" where you pay 20 euros and its open bar, with dolce and fruits. I thought it might be fun so I invited everyone and we ended going in 8 ( had to take the car) .. thank god for GPS.. ( even though we STILL got lost ) .. the location seemed scarily similar to that of "The Monster of Florence" and for one moment  everyone in the car was silent.. we got there (early) . i guess no one comes when it opens lol.. just us. but it a gorgeous location and the set-up seemed very nice.. There were several large rooms with buffet style tables set up with fruits, cakes, a bar, DJ, seating. and coatcheck.. so we were happy :)

a view of the castle

the red lighting is like the entrance to a horror flick

me and the "t".. should we escape or actualy ( gulp ) enter...

Us girls way too early at the event... i must remember to be late more often!

me, a bunch of hands, and some nifty painted nails

the theme was "flowers' so we got out the lipstick. poor Daniel!

giovanni enters the stage.,

dancing in a castle.. why t is wearing his jacket is a small wonder!

Nico and Madeleine having a very interested and surprising conversation.. fess up guys!

so I have more photos but take a look on FB if you want to see them, blogger takes far too long to download them and I am losing my will to live or continue this blog post... back to work and my tea!