6 (Un)Common Sense Things for Non-Italians in Italy

articles, europe, florence, italy, life, travel

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10 months and 10 days in Florence as of today. Where did all that time go? When I heaved my bags off of the train and onto Florentine land all those months ago, I had checklists upon checklists of Things To Do, Things To Buy,  Things To Accomplish, Places To Go, and whatever else I had misty ideas about. But as I mentally scroll through those endless lists, it’s kind of sad to see all those boxes that are still unchecked. I’m sure my expectations were probably unrealistic and more the reflection of the idealistic I’m-finally-here! sort of mindset, but I honestly thought–as I’m sure many study-abroad students have done–that I would have more time to do those things, and then I find that amid all the school work, errands, chores, and (in my case) scholarship requirements, I’m suddenly ten months in, with barely three months left on my visa and still a long list of TTD’s to get through.

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In Depth Review: Accademia Riaci Firenze – Bag Making Course

articles, bags, florence, italy, leather, life, reviews, school

I’ve moved all my bag and leather related posts over to http://theleathercrafter.wordpress.com , just to keep my posts organized into travel and leather/bag making projects.

I’ve also just finished writing a super in-depth review of my school here in Florence, because I felt like I needed to say a few lot of things about it, and other prospective students, like myself a year ago, are finding it hard to locate any useful information about the school online. I couldn’t find any reviews, or any sort of info that was beyond just the basic things posted on their website.

My review is brutally honest, but I hope it helps.

Florence Life Lessons After Four Months

articles, europe, florence, italy, life, travel

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It’s the halfway point in my school year, and I can’t quite believe I’ve been here for nearly four months already. I still feel like a bit of a noob, like I haven’t gone to all the piazzas and museums and places that I’d been planning on going, or at least I thought I would have checked off a lot more places off my list than I have done at this point.

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Living here really makes me realize the difference between the pace of a tourist and the pace of day-to-day. I’m used to having jam-packed itineraries and being always on-the-go, because time is so limited and you’re always trying to get the most bang for your buck, especially in a country as expensive to be in as Europe is. But when you’re living here, that go-go-go pace is not really something you can sustain daily. With all my workload from school, the mountain of scholarship requirements I have to submit every month or two, and just all the errands that I need to do regularly, like cleaning the apartment or going grocery shopping or whatnot, there really isn’t as much time or energy for side-trips as I thought I would have.

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How to Open a Student Bank Account in Italy

articles, europe, florence, italy, life, travel

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It is not easy. I haven’t been able to find a step-by-step guide on how to do it, only some vague suggestions in forums and whatnot (sometimes, I even find some in English). And since I’ve just gone through the whole arduous process, I thought I might as well share the tidbits I’ve learned in the last few days. The process and regulations for non-residents/students are very different from Italian citizens, and none of the banks (so far) had any pamphlets or literature in English, so it can be quite challenging to look for the information you need ASAP. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

You’re Only As Gung Ho As Your Passport Allows

articles, life, travel

Cocio chocolate drink & map, Stockholm, 2013

As much as we want to believe that we are as free-spirited and spontaneous as the heroes and heroines of lore–you know, dropping everything to jet off to an exotic locale, riding off into the sunset, living on the edge, that sort of thing–real life is often not as convenient as that.

It’s a pretty and romantic notion that’s often in prose or poetry or BuzzFeed, but the sad reality is that third-world passport-holders like myself have to deal with a whole lot of red tape and paperwork before said spontaneity can ensue.

Quick trip to London? Just give me a month’s notice. And that promo for Paris sounds awesome, but I can’t really commit to it because it’ll take me several weeks to iron out my visa. Forget about last minute, spur-of-the-moment decision-making because when you have a Philippine passport, you’re not free to travel the globe in as carefree a spirit as you might want to, sad as that is to state.

I can be free-spirited and twirl-under-the-stars spontaneous where I don’t need a visa. Idyllic sunset scenarios in places like Hong Kong, or Singapore, or Cambodia–sure. But elsewhere, as much as I want to be the adventurous and gung ho self I know I am, I pretty much have to put a lead time on my spontaneity. It’s nothing personal to my country, but I suppose it’s always a hard fact to face when you feel the powerlessness of your passport in the midst of so many potential destinations.

I suppose this dilemma wouldn’t plague anyone whose travels were confined to regions where we don’t need a visa to enter, but I have the unfortunate affliction–as many do–of loving Europe, and thus voluntarily subject myself to the arduous Schengen visa application process each time (and unlike a US visa, Schengen visas do not come in packets of ten years, but are notoriously stingy in the number of days and length of validity given).

Sigh, I guess that’s true love for ya. Oh Europe, you wily beast. Here’s hoping for equal passport rights some time in the (probably distant) future?