Italy, Personal, Travel

My Life in Italy

They say I am lucky and blessed to be here in this beautiful and historical place, Italy. Well, yes! Who would have thought that a simple girl from the province  in the southern Philippines  could come to Europe?

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To many, living abroad is like living  in a fairyland or in a wonderland. Everybody wish to live and work abroad especially those in my country who have never experienced life abroad. So, I am inviting you to join me as I reveal the life we are living here.

Though I came here to work as a volunteer in a school in Florence, I already knew what my job would be. I left my job in Thailand as a kindergarten  and elementary teacher and came here to work as a volunteer in a school in Florence. Before coming here, I watched the movie “Milan” and since then, I already pictured out my life in Italy. I know I would not teach there, I know I would clean the dormitory, help in the kitchen or maybe clean the whole school!  Life was not so easy  in the first few days. I actually cried the very first day I arrived there because right after I put my things in the room, the dormitory dean  told me to clean the dirt of the birds outside the dorm. I never used to do that but I did not complain. I volunteered for that job so I should do my work. Though I used to sit down, face my computer, teach the children and watch them play, I also got used to the my work in that school. I also met friends there and life was a bit easier.

A couple of months before my flight back to Thailand, I kept thinking whether to go back to Thailand or stay. I left Florence after 8 months of service. I got a job as a nanny in a small city in a province of Emilia Romagna. But taking care of the children was not my only job. I have to clean the house in the morning while the kids are at school, clean the rabbit’s cage and iron the clothes whenever I have an extra time in the afternoon. And even if I don’t have extra time, I really have to find time to iron. I also need to travel an hour to work and an hour to go home. I work 5 days, 45hrs a week. I also teach the children at the church once a week.

When i started working as a volunteer in our church this year, 2015, I decided to stop working to give myself a time to relax and just focus on teaching the children. But when you used to get a salary every month, it is not easy to be broke. Hahaha! Anyways, I love teaching children and when you love what you are doing, things become so easy.

Most the Filipinos in Italy are working as a domestic helper or a caregiver. Some of them are also professionals but chose to work here because, why not? The salary is so much bigger here than in the Philippines. There are also a few who works at the stores, restaurants or hotels, usually, they are those whose parents are here, had studied here and can speak Italian very well.

Many people really wanted to come here and experience the life in Italy. Yeah, it’s good. You should come! This place is very beautiful. Money is also good if you can get a full-time job. You can also explore Italy or travel around Europe easily. But you must also know that working in Italy is not easy. You need to be tough. But for me, it is not a good place to spend my life forever. I will just be here with my husband to experience the life they are living here and to travel while we are still young. And that’s the reason I started blogging again. Soon I will write more of our experiences here.

Ciao!

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Italy, Personal

Venice

The “City of Waters”, the “City of Mask”, the “Floating City” are some of the famous names of Venice. Years ago, I read from a newspaper that this city is going to sink in 50 years. I think that was when the water rose in 2005 and covered the streets of Venice. Jokingly, I told my friend that I should visit this city before it sinks, although at the back of my mind it is so impossible for me to step in the land of Europe. So after about 10 years, by the grace of God, I got to visit this beautiful city!

Words can’t describe how happy I was when my boyfriend invited me to go to Venice to celebrate our 2 year anniversary. I was so excited! I woke up at 4 in the morning to prepare myself and meet him at Bologna train station. The train ticket costs 11 Euros from Bologna. We took the train and arrived there after about 2 hours. I was so happy when I saw the city from afar. Anyway, I am just going to show our pictures here.

 

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Italy, my journey

Pisa and Lucca

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While looking at this beautiful tower, I remember myself looking at the restaurant’s menu before I order my pizza. Then I remember the posters at the restaurant’s wall. Wow! I couldn’t believe I am actually in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Never in my life I had dreamed of coming to Italy. It’s just too impossible for me to step on the land of Europe. It was just last year (2013) when my boyfriend and I planned about the possibilities of experiencing the life in Italy by becoming a volunteer. But anyway, I’m not going to talk about that now. I want to share my experience and the awesomeness of Pisa.

My friend and I traveled from Florence to Pisa by train for about an hour and arrived there around 11AM. We took the cheapest train, of course. The Trenitalia Regionale is only 7.90 Euros from Florence Sta. Maria Novella to Pisa Centrale. We bought our bus tickets (1,20 Euro) at the kiosk inside the station and waited for the bus to the tower just across the train station. I forgot the bus number but it has something like “Rossa”, so I’m guessing that’s the last station.

On our way to the tower, we crossed the river and found beautiful places. We planned to walk when we go back to the station. “Wow! Wow! Wow!” were my words when we finally saw the leaning tower and the cathedral.  They’re amazingly beautiful!  The Cathedral of Pisa is just beside the tower.  Ok, I’m just going to show the pictures now, they’re more important than my words.

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At the train station, In front of the station and the first view after we entered the gate.
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These are the beautiful architectures.
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The Leaning Tower of Pisa! Yey!!!! ❤

Image So the plan to walk going back to the station did not happen. Before going back to Florence, we went to the place called Lucca. We just paid about 3 Euros for the train and we spent like 40 minutes there and we back to Florence. Ok, Lucca is also very beautiful but we did not stay long because I needed to go back to work that night. But anyways, here are the pictures of Lucca and their vintage market there. Image

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Italy, my journey, Personal

Debit Card Rejected

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I don’t usually travel with cash. I only had 150 Euros in my wallet when I came here in Italy. I prefer carrying a card. My Union Bank VISA card in Philippines works in Thailand and my Krungthai VISA card in Thailand works in Philippines. I opened another account at Kasikorn bank a month before my flight to Italy, thinking that I could use it in the new country where I am going to stay.

When I ran out of cash, I went to the ATM that has VISA logo to withdraw. I can’t withdraw at BNL to I went to Banco Firenze, but still I can’t. I read in the internet that the maximum withdrawal is 250 Euros so I guess I exceeded. I went again and withdraw few Euros but still it did not work. I called the Kasikorn Bank in Thailand and they always hang up. Finally after 20 minutes I was able to talk to a good operator. She got my card number and said it is active and can be used in any ATM that has PLUS logo.

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I search an ATM that has PLUS logo in the internet. I got my map so I can locate them easily.

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There are only few in Florence. I went there and tried 3 ATMs. Guess what happened! My card was denied again and again. “WE”VE BEEN INSTRUCTED TO RETURN THE CARD”, “CONTACT YOUR BANK” “THIS TRANSACTION IS NOT AVAILABLE” those were always the words.

I am hopeless. I guess I might send the card back to Thailand and ask a friend to withdraw the money. For now, I have to live with my 2 Euros and few cents. I can survive.

Few things I’ve learned; before traveling, make sure to call your bank and inform them that you’ll be traveling abroad. Ask or search in the internet if you can withdraw from the country you’ll be going. Make sure to have cash in your wallet, dollars or euro.  In my case, since I won’t be going back to Thailand, I should have withdrawn my money.

Italy, my journey, Personal

A night in Rome

I arrived at Rome Fuimicino Airport around 8PM. I was very excited to see my boyfriend. He said he’s going to wait at the airport. It took us 15 minutes to meet because there were so many people. I went to the telephone booth but the lady told me to buy a card. I don’t need to call for a long time so I texted him using my Thai mobile phone and got a reply.

My heart jumped when I saw him! He hugged me and helped me with my luggage.  He already bought 2 bus tickets to bring us to the Termini, the train station.

Our train ticket going to Forli says that we have to get on the train at 6:20AM, so we have like a night to spend together in Rome. We left my luggage at Termini (train station). We walked to the Colosseo (the famous Colosseum in Rome). It took us about an hour to reach there because we always stop to take pictures. Ah, my feet hurt from walking. Taxis are so expensive so we just have to walk. Thanks to him, he carried my backpack because it’s too heavy. He carried 2 heavy bags. Great boyfriend! J

All the pain vanished when I saw personally the Colosseo! Amazed, mesmerized, impressed and happy were my feelings upon seeing the awesome Colosseum. It was built hundreds of years ago but it still looks amazing!

We took more pictures and we went to his friend’s apartment to sleep.

We set the alarm and we woke up at 5am. We walked to the bus stop, got my luggage and paid about 10 euro. We only have few minutes to run to our train. We cannot miss our train, our ticket costs 78 euro. We ran as fast as we can. We got on the train! We could have missed it! Thank God!

What I learned from Rome? There’s a lot of walking because taxis are very expensive. I should wear very comfortable shoes next time we’ll go around the city. It’s okay not to buy a bus ticket because nobody’s going to check specially at night. When it’s time, it’s time. Every minute, every second counts so when you miss your train, sorry.

I’ll go and visit more places in Rome next time. 😉

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Italy, my journey, Personal

The Trip

I’m ready!

Everything was ready days before my flight to Rome. Visa, luggage, plane tickets, bus ticket, train tickets, etc. I went to Bangkok to get my new passport and then wait for my flight. I arrived in Bangkok early in the morning and headed directly to the Philippine Embassy, I carried all my stuffs, about 30 kilograms in all.

The Disappointment

So I arrived at the Philippine embassy around 9AM, left my luggage at the security and excited to get my new passport, anxious about my picture. I waited for my turn. When it was my turn, I gave the receipt. He asked for my old passport, I thought he’s just going to look at it to check if it’s really me. He went inside and looked for my new passport. I saw him from the window that he’s doing something with my passport. I called him and told him not to do anything with the old one because my visa there. The lady inside shouted at me saying, “Mag-antay lang kayo (just wait)!) He came back to me and handed my new passport and then the old one. My eyes almost popped out and my heart stopped beating when I saw the holes in my old passport. I screamed, “What did you do?? My visa to Italy is there! My flight is on Monday! ” He said, “You cannot have two passports at the same time. We should cancel the old one. We only cancelled the passport, your visa are still valid.” He told me to go to the Thai immigration to make sure. I told him I don’t care about the Thai visa because I’m leaving, I need my Italian visa. I was really disappointed, I really cried because I did not expect it.  How can they cancel it when it was extended for 2 years and the expiration will be on June 2015!?

I Asked help

I called the Italian embassy and asked about it. The lady said that when she checked, it’s still valid but she doesn’t know about my case if OK. I kept asking her questions and wasn’t satisfied with her answer. I went to the Italian embassy, asked another lady and she told me that they cannot do anything about it, I better get a new visa. But I cannot wait for another 2 weeks. So she told me that I should then pray that the Thai immigration officer will allow me. Immigration I know I cannot sleep well that night so I decided to go to the airport to ask an immigration officer.  A friend (my boyfriend’s sister-in-law) went with me.  It was really late at night. I asked the information where can I find the office of the immigration officers. She then called someone and handed me the phone. The lady officer asked what kind of visa I had. I told her is an Italian visa. She said she knows about the Thai visa, not the Italian but she thinks it’s okay. So we went home without any sure answer.

Sacrifice

I decided to fast a day before my flight. Yes, fast. That means I won’t eat the whole day and just pray to God to answer my selfish prayer. I know fasting is very effective. I’ve done this many times and all my prayers were answered yes.

September 2

I went to the airport alone. The queue was not long, I was early. I checked in, the woman got my 2 passports with her eyebrows connected. She asked me some documents because  she thought I’m going to marry an Italian. I told her it’s Motivi Religiosi. She nodded and gave me my ticket. I lined up at the immigration, when it was my time, I handed the immigration officer my 2 passports and my ticket. He looked at them and asked another officer, I don’t understand but I know they were talking about my passports. I was so nervous. I prayed. After awhile, he stamped and wrote at the new passport, something like “the visa is at passport number XX2988***. He then gave me my passports and I thanked him in Thai. I can still remember the day I got my new passport. I was at the backseat of the taxi and was crying out loud. I thought I cannot go to Italy on the scheduled date. I thank God for everything. I owe Him again. I arrived in Moscow and then to Rome. 🙂 Image Image Image Image