(Aka You just got Rickroll’d)
The main variable here that influences a wide range of subjects such as the technological gadget world, the groceries and the work is basically the integration of the human being with the World Wide Web. As I explained before in my posts you can technically do everything on the internet, and I am one of those that except meeting girls and play soccer loves to use internet for anything. Sometimes people do even those two things on the internet, but let’s say it’s not my style.
See in Italy there is no chance to use such a wide range of services, basically because in some areas of Italy we still have the dial up connection, and in other areas we don’t have even that one. And that’s just one of the problems. Most of all we are not mentally used to think about the the internet when we need something, we don’t have big stores and big chains of shops that offer products delivery. Shipping is expensive, you can only buy things on eBay, that is the biggest source of products for the average Italian, that is really, really scared about the idea to insert his credit card number on the internet.
Like in case they clone the card you will be immediately poor and alone, instantly after inserting the verification code. People in Italy buy just one, simple prepaid card from the same selle, the Poste (which is basically the US Postal Service here) because the voice of a simple, free and easy credit card spread among all Italy. Think about a country all with the same card. Why? Because they are afraid of everything, you always wait for the scam in Italy and the internet is an evil machine made to such your money and your social life. In fact it takes your social life, but if you are wise you can keep the money.
Here the things are different, and I will suggest you some internet sites you should visit that may seem basic for an American, but may result in something interesting for a future intern in New York, if you are reading this to obtain some information (or maybe they’ll make a book out of this, or a movie. In that case I would like Timothy Olyphant to play my role, he’s funny and looks alike me in some situations).
First of all the masterpiece, King Amazon: you can find everything, and I really mean everything, from food to clothing to gardening to sex toys. Everything. It is a search engine on recommended website that affiliates to Amazon in order to let it take the orders for them and manage them taking a commission on the order money. I recommend it for clothing, gadgets and technology stuff, be sure that all the items you buy are included in the Super Saving shipment because otherwise it would be something like five dollars for seller (you buy three objects from three shops you will have to pay three shipping fees). And this is the worst part, they send you tons of shipments even if you want them to reduce them to as few as possible.
Another internet site that will ease you things is FreshDirect. There are advertisements everywhere in Manhattan trains, I tried it and it works, they are fast, friendly and they deliver exactly in a two hours spot you choose. The delivery boy was so kind not to complain for the four floors of stairs to my apartment and was so kind I gave him 5 bucks. They told me to try Peapot too for food, but I think that this is the best site I used and I will continue like this.
Then I suggest you to subscribe to Netflix if you have a good internet connection and a strong Wifi. The site will permit you to stream contents from the internet right on your pc, Playstation, Xbox and similar, the quality is very good and the programs are decent. A service like this for example for me is necessary after the fall of the God Megavideo, which by the way I paid 30 Euros to in order to subscribe to the site on January.
If you need business cards (they are basically useful to spread them around to girls) you can buy the at Vistaprint, they are fast, cheap and they have a wonderful customer support: the post offices couldn’t find my shipment after two days and the customer support offered me for free a new shipment and if the post offices could find my business cards I could have kept them.
Now I can’t remember any other internet site, if I will in a future I will rickroll you again and suggest something else to visit. And by the way I always end up into Youtube videos that rickrolls you and hope that you rage. Too bad I love that song.
(Check out Brian Griffin on Family Guy version of the song, it’s awesome)
(Aka Technically it’s Cambridge)
Ok today I will let you know some updates about the decisions I took for my future. You know that all interns are looking for something to do after this experience and although they know this life won’t last forever they will always try to continue having fun without really working (and forever interning). Anyway like most of them I was in the condition of looking forward for this summer and find something to do, in order not to “waste” (according to my parents) time lying on a beach in Italy.
Do you remember the post about the university I refused about one month ago (Should I Stay or Should I Go)? Well after that decision I didn’t come back again with another decision until a couple of days ago, while I was discussing with some friends here and with the big boss at home: see I still haven’t decided yet if I will be attending NYU master here in New York, and every day tons of new possibilities rise up from the work opportunities sea. Among all those, I decided to choose something that could satisfy me and my parents at the same time: a summer school.
I though this could have been a transition experience to definitely prepare me for the world of US universities, which is not too bad and I bet I will be fine, as in every place I have been in my life (I am even a funny and friendly person, ask anyone). I chose Harvard University. I know what you are thinking; this guy is a douchebag, another rich intern pretending to be poor, a “son of dad” and communist kind of stuff like that. Well I can ensure you that this was a decision I took thinking hard to it, not doing it just to spend a couple of months. I know the tuition is really expensive, even for one month, but I think that this is an investment that in a long term scope could bring you back awesome results. I mean, it’s just a summer school, obviously, I don’t pretend it would be considered such as a Phd or a Master, but in Italy I think it would have a pretty nice appearance on my desk, and would be considered by the people that would choose if hire me or not.
Because sometimes I forget but my ultimate goal is to be hired. And I am still undecided too if this would happen here in the US or in Italy, my loved land. You see I see New York as a little land of opportunities, not the whole United States because I am not naïf not to know that it’s not beautiful everywhere here such as everywhere in the world; I can see how you could be rewarded if you put efforts in what you do, I can see how this city and the people could give you a chance if you deserve one. I trust this city, and maybe I will regret all my trust but I still believe in this world.
I know that someday I will be back in Italy, but not know; there no chances to do something you love and slightly more chances to be employed in a dead end job you hate. I will come back in Italy to see my family and my friends when I’ll be a new man, shaped by this experiences my parents are permitting me to do (and I thank them). Coming back to the Harvard Summer School, I found it very organized, available and reliable (yes you pay even for that and the name most of all) and yes, it’s always Harvard. You have to know that it’s very, very difficult to attend these schools and participate to these programs in the US because of the GMAT, the GRE, the TOEFL, the essays and all the requirements they have. Not because you are not good enough, because in Italy we still are idiots that don’t think that teaching to kids in English would be a massive asset for them in a future. I had to learn English on my own; do you think it was easy? Do you think I have the same chances of somebody that studied his whole life in English to pass a GMAT or a GRE? I don’t think so.
Harvard Summer School would be a start, and then I’ll see what I will do next. I even applied for an internship (even if I would like to start working) at CERN in Geneva, who knows that they may need a scientist?
(Aka Things I love)
I never told you how I survived the impact with the paper cups where they pour the dirty water the US people call coffee. I didn’t. As most of the Italian I am pretty picky about the quality of my coffee, the mystical preparation you can see me doing in the morning is some kind of ritual, it helps me start in the right way the day. I brought my own moka machine with me in the US, with my own coffee and every morning I use it over and over again. I bought the moka machine when I started the college, in the far 2006, and because I was moving on my own in the big Rome to become somebody.
Every single day, every single exam I used the same coffee machine, one, two, five times a day, to prepare coffee for everyone came in my house. And that’s not all; I brought my moka with me during holiday, every summer from 2007. And if you think I am crazy enough I can tell you I brought my moka with me during my Erasmus, in the Netherlands. And now I am here, with my (not anymore) shiny moka and my jar of precious coffee trying to survive to the mocaccino and frappuccino and latte venti. Actually the moka has tons of burned parts, the handle is melted and the inside is full of mold and dark spots where some kind of extraterrestrial form of life lives. According to Italian legends this is what makes your coffee great, the personal taste you give your own moka. And never change any broken part, it will lose the magic.
Anyway I am currently running out of my coffee so I had to take a tough decision: I saved some of my coffee for me in order to keep it for special occasions. I imagine myself using the moka as the winners of Formula 1 use champagne bottle to exult after the grand prix. It is hidden in a closet, away from the dangerous eyes of everyone. My treasure…
I got used to the coffee, like the one you drink in the streets, and I am finding every day a new place to try it around the city. There is a place next to my office that has a good coffee, and even funny employees I like. It’s called Gregory’s Coffee, it’s pretty famous in New York and there are some of the around. Try the Macchiato, it’s very good and not as long as the American typical coffee. And if I am telling you this you should trust me.
The second thing I am discussing today (I just stuck in this by the name of the song I chose today) is TV. I don’t like very much Italian TV, and not because of all the girls we have that could never bore a man, but because of the average quality of the programs compared to what I like: Americans are most of all spectacular in whatever they do, from sports to talk shows, and comedy shows and sit-coms. I do love these four categories and I think that I am starting to appreciate the quality of the channels in American cable TV. It was inside of my apartment contract, so I am happy of this. Here they have also Netflix, a service that permits you to stream contents from the internet, and I mean movies, series and cartoons. My wifi sucks so I won’t subscribe to any service like this, but I will tell you more later on about this. Other than this, next time I will tell you about what you can find on the internet here, and believe me, this is the land of opportunities for delivery food and stuff like that.
(That’s a cappuccino, the most imitated roman coffee all around the world)
(Aka the Americans)
Aaah, tell me you were waiting for this post; the post where I would have described the wonderful people of the United States. I really don’t like the “American” term they use to describe themselves, I think it’s too much abused and refers to a much bigger population than just US; anyway as we all know American usually refer to themselves also as the best country of the world, the most proud population and etc etc… so the term I think reflects their ego.
You can immediately tell the different about people for New York and people from all over the world, but not from the habits or the colour of the skin, from the way they approach to the town. You see some of the people you meet let’s say they “ride” the town, living it in all its scope of moods and feelings, and appreciating it or not; New Yorkers are part of the rope, let’s say they are a string inside of the big common spirit that is the soul of the town. They behave differently, they don’t refer to the city as something mystical or a separate entity, they just don’t use the city as a comparison, they are the city.
You won’t hear them say that they hate or love the place because they are the place. Once I asked my landlord if he likes to live in New York and he told me that he was born and raised here, that sometimes this city is too big for him, that it’s loud, noisy and he didn’t like the rush that was everywhere in the town. I asked him why he didn’t leave and he told me, showing me a big happy smile with a dip of sadness: “I couldn’t leave; I will miss New York too much. I can’t imagine myself living somewhere else. This town is a patchwork of cultures and feeling, every cross is a town. Once you have been here for as long as I have been you don’t need to see anything else”.
He wasn’t under the effect of mushrooms, I can assure you. But maybe he is right. I have always been fascinated by the American culture, although most of the Italians have some kind of resentment to the US, hating the people and the capitalistic way of life, probably because of the anachronistic political parties that still influence our culture. I worked for the Americans too, now I moved here seeking a new life here. I don’t know what to expect, and I will always keep an eye on my emergency exit; even if I like the country, love the people and people (apparently) love me I just can’t take a look sometimes to my country, to my city and to my family, my friends, and my dog Valentino.
I mean all my life is there, and I will never lose the contact with my roots. I am not planning to stay here forever, I just want to take a shower into American life and come back, bringing some of their culture in Italy. I do believe in patriotism, and maybe this is one of the things I envy most of the US. I think everyone should be proud of what he is and of what he believes in. Any way this is getting to philosophical, let’s just come back to the stupid blog arguments, they are more suitable of this site and this writer.
Friday I got drunk and woke up in Queens sleeping with other 7 people, had a chicken with onions on rice for dinner and a double cheeseburger for breakfast. Interesting.
(Rockefeller Center guys)
(Aka No More Carnival)
Today the mood in this post seems to be different from the others, and I guess this is the result of recent calls and chat I had with my friends back in Italy. Well I am not saying I am sad, but it’s normal to feel something similar to nostalgia away from home, especially when you know that it’s going to be a very long time. Mainly I am writing this for two things that happened yesterday: first of all, I had throat ache, and this is not a reason for my mood but the beginning of the first story.
I had throat ache and I decided to leave work before because I didn’t really feel well and I decided to go to visit my future university in New York (actually I don’t know if I will be accepted, but it’s always better to plan a visit to the school and to the structures). I had to take a train from Manhattan to Brooklyn to arrive in Metro Tech where the university is and as soon as I stepped outside of the metro I saw a completely different scenario: Brooklyn is a totally different place, maybe it’s not New York anymore, because the people and their behaviour are typical of a different city. I felt like a soul that this place transmitted me, and at the same time some kind of fear for the new place.
I have this feeling every time, the first day, maybe even the first week when I move to a new place I feel like the period I am going to spend there would be endless and I am almost sure that I am going to suffer and feel uncomfortable for months. And those things never happen in real life. I always set up perfectly in every place, I like all the places I have been and I had no problems in Italy, Netherlands and US. But the feeling for the first days remains, and I learnt how to live with it. Brooklyn is a vibrant community, full of characteristic and picturesque scenes that I will learn to appreciate in a future. Even the university at the end was not bad.
But my throat ache was getting worse so it was time to come back home. As soon as I got home I received some FB messages from my friends in Italy, who have just been involved in my town Carnival, the best and most appreciate holiday in my region. Carnival in my town is a religion, I participated to Carnival since I was 14 and every year I tailor my own costume and dance and drink and sing in the streets, with thousands of people with me, drunk as me, happy as me. If you ever come to Civita Castellana (I doubt, but no one can say it for sure) check the schedules for the three Carnival parades, you will be “intoxicated” by the beauty of my city.
My friends were reporting me all the facts and telling me the nothing much happened in the city beside Carnival since I left. The same common answer that your friends usually tell you when you ask what’s going on. Nothing much. Even that sentence unexpectedly started in me a series of feelings that made me realize it was the first Carnival I was not participating to, and at the same time how much I was missing that routine that is typical of my town. At last I realized that more and more in a future I will skip vital points of the life of my city, in order to chase my dreams.
What if I am not going to participate Carnival anymore, like I did for Easter that I am skipping since 2009 and Middle August that I am skipping since 2006? My life will still go on I guess. And I am not sad either; I realize that even this is growing up. Soon big choices will come. Am I going to be mature enough to face them?
(These are the fritteloni, a delicious egg appetizer made in my town. I would kill for a couple of them)
(Aka East Coast allies)
I actually can say that I am not the first one to think about changing my life coming to US. Beside Miss F. that you will know later on there are other Italians that are trying to realize their dreams in the land of opportunities like me. Two of them are doctor Q. and his sweet girlfriend (soon doctor S.), two dear friends of mine who chose DC as their landing spot to start the long race to success.
Doctor Q. is Italian and he studied in my same university but, believe it or not, I really had the chance to know him in NY, while participating to NMUN program. We can actually think that NMUN was a sneak peer of what I am doing now; the only difference is that I don’t sleep in a hotel right now. Before the NMUN I met doctor Q. at the preparation courses for the program in Rome, and it was love at the first sight. Not physical love I mean, but mental and artistic love. At the end of the preparation course we performed a two man comic show in front of 200 people, destroying every chance to have a future in diplomatic career.
After the preparation course we flew with all the guys from our university to New York, and we both realized that US may be the place where we may actually belong. He is not working but studying right now in a famous and prestigious university in DC with his girlfriend, Italian and Canadian, that is studying too there political science. And, in the end, their dog Dakota, which shared the bed with when I went to visit them.
I found a good offer online, with Kayak which you may already know if you are American but you can’t know if you Italian. 120 dollars round trip to DC, which is a fair price compared to train (which take three and a half hours and costs 150 dollars) and bus (that takes a couple of lives to arrive to DC and costs a couple of sandwiches). I am not very fond of crowded places and even if I like the train more than the plane, I chose the latter one for the price and the flight time. I even had the central wing seat, so I could completely stretch my legs and enjoy a quickly half an hour flight.
DC is a mature place, that’s the first adjective that came into my mind the first time I landed there. I have been in DC before but never with somebody that is actually expert of the place (I prefer bars to discos and I just went around without destroying myself too much). I like the city, it seems quiet, with not much traffic, the temperature was warmer than New York and people seemed friendly and almost every guy in bar had my age. I guess that for university guys this could be a perfect place to study (and do the fraternity things we saw in movies that comes to Italy) (I would do that stuff if I’ll ever come back to university).
Georgetown was another city inside of Washington, a totally different one, and New York is extremely different too. Three worlds I would say. Which I prefer? I guess you already know the answer. The Big Apple is similar to Rome, it eats people who don’t understand it, but most of the people I met told me to wait a couple of months to rate the city and my experience. In the mean time, let me say that there is no place like home, and telling the truth I still don’t feel NY as my home. You know why? Every time I smell prosciutto in an Italian alimentari I still want to cry thinking to the ham I eat here.
(I even had the time to meet my friend Barry)
(Aka Throw away your SIM card)
Calling home could be pretty much expensive from the US, especially with some Italian carriers who claims to be magic number. The problem is that if only I picked up my phone to answer a call, I had to pay one Euro instantly, and the 25 cent per minute of received call. The prank of this hilarious phone company is that I can’t see who is calling from the US, and this turns my phone in a music-video-phone-gps-app integrated Russian roulette. What if who calls tries to sell me an extraordinary offer on mattresses? I love to pick up my phone and insult them, but do I want to pay one Euro for that? Hell no. I only tried to answer my mom, but the stake was too high.
I asked a dear friend of mine, the sweet Miss F., to help on this situation. Miss F. is an Italian girl who was as fascinated as me about US and decided to come here before me, she works as a journalist and she is going through the hard life of the endless internships. Miss F. found love in the US and decided to move here to find the fame everyone is looking for and I do support her, and even his boyfriend who is a very nice architect. And he is only the only one that is not Italian and that is actually bringing cash home.
Miss. F. suggested me to go to T-Mobile and check for unlimited plans and the next day I had my SIM card, my unlimited phonedatamessagessmokesignalsflyingpigeons offer and the extra Italian plan, so I could call any land phone for free. Really convenient, 60 bucks and nothing to worry about. I do love unlimited plans because basically I am a planner, and I am really afraid of situations outside of my scheduled plans, that’s why I chose also MTA Metrocard, which is more precious than Willy Wonka golden ticket around here.
Beside the monthly plan and the offer what I want to discuss here is the amount of smartphones around: in Italy we obviously have smartphones and it’s not uncommon to see people of all ages owning a flaming new device, the different thing here is that smartphones are for everyone. It’s not just all a matter of price, it’s carriers behavior and real functions you can get out of it. Yesterday I saw a girl paying for a coffee pointing her phone in front of the bar code scanner, a couple of weeks ago a guy checked in at the airport with a QR code. It’s sci-fi in Italy.
I hate Italian carriers for the way they came into an agreement years ago expecting us to pay way more than every country of the world, and I hate people for getting angry in private. I see people shouting and walking in streets for a university reform that may affect a minor part of the population and not for this, or for gasoline, or for the unbelievable price of food. Sometimes I feel ashamed of speaking about how much I pay for things necessary for living, just because all companies sell them at this price because people are willing to pay this price.
I will discuss later of this, in the meantime what I wanted to say with this post is that in the US you have an almost unlimited source of things you can do with your portable device that justify a price that you are not paying if you decide to subscribe a contract. In Italy monthly plans doesn’t exist, there either two years plans or prepaid card. That’s it. And that’s why people are willing to pay seven hundred Euros for a phone without even using flat internet connection. And, most of all, I have never seen somebody paying for a seventy-nine cents app in Italy. What do you need the fruity phone if you don’t use all the features? Why are you willing to pay that price just to say “I have that phone”? Do you really need it, Italian “bella figura”?
(I’ve found the perfect image today)
(Aka Work ennobles the man)
First day of work, we all knew it was on the way. Especially me who frankly knew almost nothing of what the job would require me to do, and this particular side of the moon was freaking me out a bit. I mean, it’s not the first time I do something without absolutely knowing what to do, see the microwave accident, but this time it was about work and even if you may think differently I do care about acting properly. So I suited up and closed my mouth for a day.
I wanted to do what we call “bella figura”. I also know that “bella figura” in Texas means something different, and I’ve learned this while I was working at the US Embassy in Rome: apparently, for people who came from Texas, the “bella figura” means the attitude and the swag typical of Italian people, the wait the dress, they behave and even how they walk, dress to impress and to excess, they said. Not bad for people who ride horses in 2012 and wear boots. Sometimes also red boots. And that strange lace around the neck that ends with the head of a cow instead of ties. I wouldn’t be surprised to see somebody dressed like that nowadays.
Anyway as I said in other posts I came really early, I was pretty excited and nervous, you know first day, I have to stay six months and I don’t want to be stuck in a place I hate for such a long time. That’s my concern, who will I find? Will I speak English properly? Who the hell is cooking Indian food in the office at 10 am? I just got in, this amazing skyscraper in Midtown, the central part of New York City, instead of the main most famous building which was restructuring on First Avenue. Wonderful. As I got there I tried to call my boss in the hall, and then a man came to me and asked if I needed help: I just answered with the voice a baby has when he gets lost inside of a supermarket and said “it’s my first daaaaay”.
The man was my boss, luckily this time, and made me obtain my daily pass to the building, in order to reach my rainbow cubicle in my office. Here I am, ready to solve world problems once for all, back off Peace Corps we don’t need you anymore. The problem is I didn’t have a pc ready by then so I had to wait the IT guys to fix it, together with my mail account, and still I didn’t know what my real work was about. Pretty challenging like this, uh? My boss explained me almost everything I had to do, he is a nice guy like most of the people in my office, a friend environment I have to say, and I do appreciate this. I even had the change to have a comic speech in front of my whole office two weeks later I got here, clearly stating in front of everybody that the spot of the village idiot was taken.
I also met Mr. A here, he was the first one I met, a really kind person you should meet if you ever decide to be an Intern at UN, he knows everybody, he sees everything. And I also met some people that became my friend now, but I am actually sad as I am the one who came for last, and I will see them all coming back to their countries during these six months. It’s a shame, but I hope we are going to meet again. Maybe in Mr. A mansion in Malibu. Because you don’t know Mr. A, but will love him.
(In Italy we say “all the world is a town”, I don’t know if this make sense in English)
(Aka Lost & Found)
I still don’t want to talk about my job, which in the meantime began at the UN, I will just skip to my first after work happy hour, and I’ll come back to the rock breaking later. During my first day of work I met who became one of my closest friends in NY, Mr. A, that immediately felt my Italian shining and vibrating soul and proposed me to go to a happy hour next to my place (Upper West)(last clue on where I live). I though “why not?” and at 6 we left work for this new adventure.
The bar seemed to be one of these fashionable bars very popular in NY, the rooftops, with nice and panoramic views over the Lincoln Center. Nice location, easy to come back home later. I actually was tired by my work because I got at work more than one hour before the provided indications about the meeting time, as I usually panic when I have a deadline and I prefer to be there 6 hours before than 6 minutes later. But the place was nice and, most of all, there I found what I was expecting to see in NY since I made my first step on this land of opportunities: females.
Don’t judge me, I am Italian, I am young, I am an unpaid 10 hours a day worker, these are my satisfactions. And that day the air was full of opportunities, if you know what I mean. We got there just after six, two metro stops from work, and we hit the open bar that the place was offering for an hour. In fact, NY bars often use this strategy, they let you in with an hour of free vodka drinks and then after this hour you’ll have to pay a price for the other drinks. The surprising fact is that everything in NY is so cheap compared to Italy, even drinks in fancy bars with rooftops. In Rome bartenders take one of your feet in hostage until you don’t pay the bill.
I can’t even imagine what could happen if in Italy there was this “shall I keep your bill open on this card?” thing which I will describe later on. You might as well pay directly by blood transfusions, for what it’s worth. Anyway, speaking about the female homo sapiens at the bar, I was so hot I dropped my jacket, my bag and my upper part of the suit on a couch in the place. Worst decision ever. But, double-edged.
At the end of the evening I picked up all my stuff, except for the upper part of my suit that I was sure was on the couch. I looked everywhere for that damn jacket and it was nowhere to be found, I literally turned the couch upside down. Did somebody steal my jacket? Don’t think so, I am the smallest person in NY, except Mr. A that is smaller than me. Did somebody take it by mistake? Probably. The only thing I know is that people were wondering what I was doing swimming in sport coats and jackets on a couch.
Six, and I say six girls decided to help me looking for the jacket, without even knowing me and when I gave up they supported me morally for my loss. My first day of unpaid work and I already lost four hundred Euros of coat. Lost part. I found out girls actually talk to you in bars. Found part. My faith is stable, “even” I would say. Let’s see if in a future I can work on these to bring the scale by my side.
(Great view in here. Even the city is not bad down there)