Interview with the C.S. Meeting organizers

When a person comes from abroad, he likely wants to encounter new people in a city he doesn’t know. Galway is a multi-ethnic city and there are many people here for many reasons: study, work, internship, volunteering, etc. So, it may happen that a newcomer here feels the need to establish relationships as soon as possible, to avoid the sense of loneliness.

For this reason there are Couch Surfing International Meetings, events inspired by the app that allow people to host others from abroad, meetings that are concentrated on a simple concept: allow people from abroad to meet. There are even two in Galway. The first is the official because it is arranged by the Irish people. It is the group of Goran Kiesic.

We decided to speak with the two organizers of the second group, namely Cassiany Simões Silva and Ellen Queiroz. They come from Brazil, and we are so curious to find out why they plan these meetings and how it works. This is the interview.

  • Can you talk me about C.S. International Meeting? How does it work?

Essentially is just a meeting that any person can organize. It happens around the word many cities and it allow to meet new people of diverse nationalities. So, you can practice languages, talk about travelling, you can learn a lot about other cultures. So, it’s a efficient way to exchange cultures and encounter unknown people. Usually is once a week but never in the same pub. We make this event every Thursday. We decided to change the pubs always to let people explore the city. The main object is “know Galway”. We posted the events on the C.S. International Meeting web site or Facebook. The fundamental reason why they decided to create these events is that we are Brazilians and we felt so alone. We created a first event, not based on Couch Surfing and subsequently decided to visit the Couch Surfing website. It has been a nice experience, so far.You told me there are these meetings in a good number of countries. Do you have an idea where they happen?

  • You told me there are these meetings in a good number of countries. Do you have an idea where they happen?

I’m not sure! I joined 2011 and it was already quite famous because it was created a lot of years ago.

  • Did you find it in your country? On web?

Yes. We started participating there. We only just started attending the meeting. Also, in Brazil it was every Thursday. It was a great team. Not long ago, there was a time when the group was not that strong, but now they are telling me they are starting to be bigger again.

  • Was the first event instantly successful or did the group grow over time?

Eight people attended the first event. Now we are more or less 23 people. In fact, we do not know exactly how many people we are because there is no control in this sense.

  • In your personal experience, can you talk about friendships born thanks to this meeting? And, why not, love story?

Yes, because from the moment you are exposing yourself to other cultures and other people there is a great possibility that you make friends or even find love but above all it is very likely that you acquire partners to travel with and other types of these things. And presumably, if you visit another country, where there are people that you met in these meetings, you will visit them.

  • Are there difficulties in your meetings? If the answer is yes, what are the main issues?

The primary problem is having space for everyone. If you want to change pubs every week, most of the time you don’t know the pub that will host you. So we don’t know if the pub has enough space. And often we don’t know how many people we are. And every week we have more and more people. If the pub is too small for us, we instantly go to another one, the closest. The identical thing happens if there is enough space at the beginning but more people come then and we are too many for the place. I noticed that another limitation is the language. There is a lot of different kind of English levels. So it’s a little bit tiring include everybody

  • Are there cultural difficulties? I mean, there are countries where is normal the physical contact but in other culture is considered rude. So, these meetings put at stake specifically these differences. Now, are there issues about this topic?

Yes, it could happen. It is important not to make others uncomfortable. A noteworthy example is the greeting. You must immediately learn which culture involves bodily contact, and which does not. Respect for other cultures is significant in these encounters. But an unpleasant episode never happened. Sometimes, we try limiting comments about cultural differences, also to prevent that someone can feel offended.

  • Are you learning a lot, planning these meetings? Is it a not traditional way to learn?

Yes. We are here to learn English. And the difference between studying the book and this type of learning is that in real life you cannot escape, you cannot avoid confronting your difficulties, your limits.

  • Did the people who attended your meeting ever tell you that this experience is opening their mind?

Usually people that take part of our event tell us this. They are so happy!

14th October 2020: my first day in Galway

Finally!!! I changed my life! This was my first thought when I arrived into the volunteers house. But my good mood started early, when I started chatting with another volunteer. When Simon Community selected me as a European volunteer, they immediately kept me in touch with an Italian girl. She has been at home for several months and for this reason she has been instructed to explain the first things to me.

In fact, in the days before my arrival, she wrote me on Whatsapp. We talked a lot about everything. At a glance, I loved her! And I will love her for the whole experience. We organized our appointment in Galway. In my mind the organization was thorough. In fact, I missed the bus and arrived one hour late. Just to allow others to know me immediately, without misunderstanding.

Rapidly I show them what kind of storm was about to come in their lives. In fact, I go up the stairs with my bags and go to my room. I encounter a German boy with a child’s face who greets me and I, in response, without noticing his shyness, start talking about everything. Literally everything. Breathless!

Sometimes I am talkative and burdened of energy. On that occasion I was my 4th level Super Saiyan version. Everything around me was a starting point to furnish a topic of conversation. A map? Traveling. A bed? How much I like to sleep! A white wall? How white a wall can be!

The poor boy was rescued by two Spanish roommates who arrived at the time. And my momentum was initially diverted to them and then to the wonderful dinner that the Italian girl prepared for me. Perhaps, because of the travels or the strong diet that I was doing in Italy, I ate all the food on the table as a hurricane.

Doubts? Zero! Just a tremendous desire to enjoy everything. In just 10 minutes I immediately understood the strange group of volunteers would become my family. The air was incredibly soft and colorful. The atmosphere was so friendly, and they seemed so fun. I was not wrong. At that moment I was joining the best family I’ve ever had!

As soon as I noticed my mood, my happiness increased by watching the past move away from me. Because they made me feel confident I would never abandon that experience. And I had a urgent need not to go home again!

Yup, my new life was about to begin. I was not born on April 30 1995, but on October 14 2019.

How Coronavirus changed my volunteering experience!

Coronavirus, coronavirus, coronavirus. I know you don’t want to overhear this word anymore. If I know, why do I pronounce this terrible name again? Maybe it’s because I’m a masochist and want to imagine your sadness while reading my blog; conceivably because I’m looking for a clickbait article; perhaps because if I created this blog, it would be because I need to help myself and through my care for myself I want to help others. No, I’m kidding. I’m just a fucking bastard, and I want to make money with the recent trending topic.

“Oh my God! The humor about this is so cruel!” Guys … seriously. The Coronavirus devastated me and wiped out many of the wonderful aspects of my experience. Sarcasm is the only thing I have in this crap moment. I would have liked talking about this experience step by step, but because of this occasion I have to quickly explain what happened recently, to show you how the Coronavirus fucked up everything. But don’t worry, I will nevertheless write my subsequent articles and in the same order that I planned up to a week ago.

Really … how many people were facing a change before the virus came? For example, personally, I was getting used to living in another country; I was starting to improve my English and my understanding, I was repairing my wellness. Coronavirus is a novelty among many novelties. And my attention is now devoted to 1st year students, soldierly freshmen, to those who were starting a new job, to those who have barely arrived in a new country with a vastly different culture.

Obviously it is so stressful. As usual, I would like talking about my personal experience and how I am dealing with this medieval plague disguised as 21st century problem. As I have already told you, I must summarize a very long journey in a short paragraph. I’ll try. Imagine that you have discovered many ghosts within you. Not a romantic spirit who wants to kiss you while you make a clay pot. But repressed anger, fear, sense of powerless. Imagine discovering that you have a specific problem called social anxiety and therefore re-read your whole past life understanding your behavior and your bad feelings. Imagine that this discovery does not make you feel better because now this monster appears in front of you in all its beauty. Imagine you are not able to stay with people you like. Imagine you decide to take distance from your housemates, that for your are your new family.

Now … Imagine closing yourself in your room. Imagine having to drink on the occasion when you are together with all of them (for example, the birthday of a housemate). Imagine it makes you feel worse. Imagine yelling, drunk, against the boy you fell in love with in the meantime which is trying to help you. Imagine telling him that you prefer not to talk to him, ruining the friendship with him. Imagine, when you’re locked in your room crying, the sound of laughter from your housemates reaches you and makes you feel depressed. Imagine changing jobs. Imagine thanks to this that you establish your routine and you really start taking care of yourself. Imagine improving after weeks and starting to manage social anxiety. Imagine starting to enjoy better than before your housemates/friends company. Imagine telling yourself you want to rebuild your relationship with them.

And you would like to apologize to the guy you like, but at the same time you are full of doubts. If I start talking to him again, maybe I will fall in love again and suffer because I can’t see him as a friend. Maybe that’s not true. Okay … I’ll just wait a little longer. The same with your roommates. I’d like to spend more time with them, but maybe I’m still too fragile to expose myself in this way and I’m afraid that only a small episode can make me collapse. I’ll just wait a little longer.

Very well … but the Coronavirus? Meantime it has arrived, but it is up until now not a urgent problem. The days go by and I feel better and better. I start seriously to spent more time with my friends. And i decide to ask the guy i fell in love to sew up our friendship. Ok … today he is not at home. I will do it tomorrow. Today is not a good idea because he is frightened of the pandemic. The next day my German roommates received an email from Angela Merkel in person. Not really flesh and blood, of course. It’s just a metaphor, come on! Germany proposed them to return to their country. Do not worry. We are not going experiencing another world war. Germany was afraid of her volunteers and decided for them that it was better that they stay close to their families. Now … we were in ten people. Ten guys in a big house. For a while we were even in eleven people. They are not solely housemates. They were my new family. A week before the outbreak of the pandemic, my Italian friend/housemate left because her project was finished. Ok … don’t panic!

In fact there are six of us. I mean … this situation is very sad and strange, but at least we can support each other in the next few days, when we will miss them. Too bad it didn’t turn out that way. Within two hours we had discovered that three people would be gone. And two hours later, two other Spanish volunteers made the same painful decision. In short, in just 4 hours, we discovered that there would be four of us in that huge house, we who were used to being ten people.

Regrets, regrets, regrets! I should have spent more time with them. I should have talked to the guy I fell in love with. I should have gone out with them more often to enjoy the city and have fun with them. My social anxiety did not allow me to enjoy the workouts I did with them.

Unbelievable! Such a strong change and without the time to metabolize it! We cried for two days. Everything in that house reminded us of our roommates. It was so sad to no longer hear the sound of my roommate’s ukulele, not to hear the sound of the shower so often. It was so depressing not to find people in the kitchen to chat with. The two heaviest days of my life.

So how am I reacting? I mean … I built a house of cards and a wind called Coronavirus swept it away! And how many people feel helpless? Sometimes our best is not enough in this life, especially if the circumstances are not positive. For this reason I decided to write this article immediately, to show my reaction to all the people who experience my same situation. Maybe it could be a starting point for your personal solution.

1) First of all, I have not repressed my true feeling. I cried a lot. I went to the empty rooms of my roommates, just to look around and miss them. I have relived many special moments and greeting scenes. I looked at their things. In fact, they didn’t have enough time to bring all their belongings with them, so they decided to leave them at home. I cried until feel sick

2) I allowed myself a good number of tantrums. Did I want to eat chips? Done! Did I want to drink? Done! I was a victim of injustice and I deserve this special treatment. I decide to pamper myself.

3) I decide to react. Happiness is a choice. What makes me feel better in general? I peered into myself. I love to help. I have found that routine is precious to me. It stimulates me to fight for my and other rights. It spurs me, to have short and long term goals. So I decided to lead my housemates towards their well-being. I took responsibility for making them feel better. In this way I also feel better, as I am empowered. I decided to start over with my previous routine. I have decided to involve the girls in the daily struggle to solve small and large problems in our home. I involved them in improving their working conditions. I tried to make them understand how they could feel better. And after the first results the miracle arrived. A type of epiphany. I found my long-term goal and every time I think it, I feel very better.

So maybe you can do this. You should vent your anger and your sadness, you can pamper yourself and as soon as you feel quite better, you have to do all of the things make you feel better. Because in this way I started to watch the thing from another side, the beautiful and helpful side. In this way I became to notice how much lucky I’ve been meeting them. Cry for a friend is not so common and I’ve done it for six people, not just for one. But I understood this only after I decide to take care again on me and … move on! Because we can just move on and move on and move on. Always. Give up is not an available option.

What do you do during the day? I pretend to understand!

Pretending is rude! Pretending means that you are false or have no interest in your conversationalist. However, many of my readers have done it. I’m sure! In fact, this blog is aimed at people who are having new experiences and among them there are many volunteers like me.

Roughly, this is the volunteer’s process. Study English at school, perhaps with good marks. From elementary school to high school, he spent more or less 11 years of his life learning and practicing this language. Before looking for a volunteer project, he studied English as a self-taught. Above all he undertook to improve listening, for example by following podcasts. Hence, he arrived in Galway, Melbourne, Manchester, Washington, proud and self-confident. He engages in his first conversation. He asks for information, for example the hours of the bus, and in response he receives a sort of this noise: “u gh to bjnbus fk ckoo s”. Die inside! He is on the verge to cry.

End of the dream! Beginning of real life! The dream is the years he spent in the school, when the teacher said him: how are you? Life is: “ah ah rie” “ho uo rio” etc. It depends on the place he has chosen. Because there is something that many native English speakers should comprehend. In this world, there are languages, such as Spanish and Italian, where you read the word as it is written. Now, if you change the Italian accent, the same word becomes bigger or stronger, but it’s still the same word. When you change the accent in a language where the word is written differently from the pronunciation, the accent completely changes the word. Because for us, and I apologize for this, “andstend” and “undstant” are not the same words!

The strange side of the matter is this is not obvious or clear for the British, Irish, Australians etc. It time and again happened that people asked me for elementary things, for example “bacon” and that I couldn’t understand. In their eyes I have always detected a type of disapproval, as if they were thinking: oh my god, I just asked you for bacon, I mean, it’s a extremely common word. Yes … but your pronunciation isn’t that so common.

Even because nobody tried to slow down while talking to me, ever! And I know for us that it is important to get used to the true way of speaking. And I know we can’t expect people to speak slowly and waste time with us. At the same time, you cannot expect us to understand you immediately. Especially in the beginning.

Now, can you imagine, on the contrary, if you have to stay in Italy for many months? At the start, do you desire us to talk as usual or do you prefer another approach? Imagine if you arrive in Italy and we start talking to you in Italian speed and with our hand gestures! Imagine if you arrive in Naples and people, instead of speaking in Italian, speak with you in Neapolitan (The language of Naples!). None of the people of northern Italy can understand the Neapolitan language and in my city every day, even at school, we speak Neapolitan.

Did you imagine this scenario? How might you feel? Discouraged? There! We feel this way sometimes. The feeling is we will never really understand English and perhaps we will never speak it well. Off and on, we think it’s unfair. We love our languages. We love our culture. And the English sound is so far away from us. Sometimes we leave because our countries don’t offer us what we want from life. But when we get home in the evening, after 7,8,10 hours of work, we open YouTube, What’s App, Facebook because we have to listen to our language for just a few seconds, because we feel the need. For this reason, when you meet a guy from abroad, especially if he is at the beginning, remember these words and try to make his daily struggle less tough!

From a suburban school to Oman. How Elizabeth transformed her life.

Since I decided to launch this blog, I have decided not to give only advice and opinions. I have to display you a tangible example of change, because if I determined to improve myself it is because I have witnessed many concrete examples about people who have already done it, in this period. I really like the story I’m about to tell you. It is not the simple fairy tale in which a person makes a big change and everything is fine. It is a difficult journey full of passages and bad moments. Despite this, there is a wonderful but realistic happy ending. This is the story of Elizabeth.

Up and down, up and down, but at least not a monotonous golden cage. Elizabeth was an English teacher. She did not have enough courage to give up his permanent position. She would have liked to go to Africa and spend a year as a volunteer, but she was waiting for retirement. This was her decision, but this choice makes her feel very anxious. She noticed that many colleagues after retiring, due to different types of problems, gave up their dreams.

But the spark came from her sister’s husband who criticized her for talking without doing. And thanks to this, he wanted to leave immediately. She contacted VIDES, an Italian organization and suddenly he was on a plane bound for Cambodia. She taught, danced and sang songs with many needy children. When she got home, she was another person. And she was ready to return to Cambodia to teach but it was not possible.

Unfortunately, he accepted a job in China, which proved to be a huge and dangerous deception. He did not work as a teacher, but another boring profession. Besides, she was about to be deported. In short, the dream has become a nightmare. The spooky side of the story is that when she fled China to take refuge in Bangkok, the employer sent her an email, telling her that they knew she was in Cambodia.

Removed the momentary fear, she decides to go to Thailand. In this country she made a skype call with a friend of his. She told her that there were many job offers for Italian tour guides in Oman. Immediately, she left again. Love also came and went away from her, she cried and laughed like a living person. This situation was so far from the stable work of the English teacher and so different from suburban life. And she loved it.

But now there was a crossroads. He had to choose between continuing to live in Oman and leaving his job safe or returning to his previous life. Eventually, he resigned from school.

And this is not the end yet. Because, the next day, he found out that his father had an incurable disease. A terrible event that gave her the courage to follow her dreams. In fact, after being close to her father, while she was dying, she returned to Oman and received an important offer.

Now she is happy and she live the life that she has always dreamed. Why did I tell you this real story? Why did I tell you this true story? Changing means put at stake yourself, exposing yourself to suffering. But, thanks to every tear you shed, you can find your true dimension, a dimension that is not imposed by society or family, a dimension that comes from your deep needs.


If you are facing a change, stop and click here

I’m Domenico. I’m Italian. I’m that kind of Italian: I shout , I use my hands a lot, I laugh hard, I like cooking and eating, I hate pineapple pizza and … I love it !!! But understanding it, noting how good it is to be me, was not easy. On the contrary, I started to repair the relationship with myself about a month ago. And still now I am at the beginning of this journey. And I know it could be a long way. I live in Galway and volunteer for the Simon Community. And this experience has aroused many monsters within me, unresolved conflicts, ghosts that I have never noticed, so far, to have.

For this reason I decided to make this blog. First of all to help myself and then to help other people, especially young people, in my same situation. Volunteers, high school or college students, people who are facing a new experience and feel so confused, angry, frightened, anxious, depressed, tired. If you know what these feelings mean, keep browsing my blog. Because I have already felt them and I feel them to now. And I know how much a change is able to cause them.

I can only show you how I am understanding and facing this situation, because I am not a psychologist but I hope to give you, through this blog, the right push to start a conscious change. In this space I will try to answer to yours and mine open question!

The Heron and the Daisy

A deep dusky sky stood out as a pack of birds flew with difficulty. The herons group was facing a blustery wind and a downpour. The umpteenth occasion in which Hermann complaints. Hermann had a strange passion for complainings. He didn’t like anything about his life. He often wondered why he had to use his wings to move, for whom he needed an enormous effort to climb into the sky and descend to his chosen destination.

Why does he have to wear a feather dress so heavy when it’s wet and so hot when it’s sunny? This time the situation would have been diverse from the usual:”Shut your beak!”. At the beginning only an indistinct voice. Soon after, other voices arrived:”You’re constantly complaining!”.”Enough!”. Hermann offended by these reproaches, decides to leave the group. “Where are you going?”. Hermann ignored this voice, mainly because he didn’t know where he was going. He merely needed a solitary moment to reflect and find himself once more.

He frequently needed these moments. But the wind was extremely brisk. An invisible glove was gripping his body to try to take him where it wanted. Hermann’s journey ended against an oak three. The impact was terrible.  The heron began falling as if dead. The flight was long. The bird was unaware of what was happening. His body, fortunately, end up in a field of daisies. In fact, these creatures are famous for their kindness and generosity. Since they realized the heron was alive but in danger of death, they started to work to save his life. With their smell and small movements, they called an army insect. The bees brought honey to allow him to regain his strength. The ants encased every part of his body to prevent the cold from slaying him. The caterpillars controlled his skull, coming in from his ears.

The crickets made a bed of leaves and the dragonflies put medicinal herbs in his mouth. After three days of treatment, he unclosed his eyes. He was alive, just a little confused. The flowers around him began asking many questions. In fact, they explained that by their nature they were fastened to their garden. Consequently, it is the sole thing they see for their whole life. To thank the daisies, he decided to talk about himself telling real adventures that happened in his life. He instantly noticed a separate daisy that didn’t care about the heron. She looked sorrowful. The more stories he told, the more her sadness grows. Hermann spent three days with daisies. As soon as, he felt better, he decided to leave. Before doing so, he noticed the sad daisy stirring:”what are you doing … ehm …” “… Theresa …” “Theresa!?”

“I want to leave from here!” answered the daisy, while she kept moving. “Are you foolish? Why? I mean … you have everything. You have the water, the sun and anything you need to live!” “I’ve never watched a place different than this garden!” answered Theresa angry. “Why am I condemned to stay here forever?” The heron was unable to give a satisfactory answer. He could scarcely look at her in respectful silence. Theresa was able to break her root and walk for only five seconds. Without energy, in fact, her body slowly started turning off. The heron looked at her sadly but suddenly his facial expression changed. 

On the face of the daisy, something appeared that he had never seen before. An absolutely cheerful expression appeared on her face. For barely 5 seconds she realized her greatest dream. And that was enough for her to die happy. While the heron leaves, with tears falling in his face, he begins to enjoy the wind in his face, the smell of flowers and from the human houses. And he began appreciating his nature, his being without roots. 

You are sad and you don’t know why. Try to understand it!

A bad grade at school: sadness. The last episode of your favorite series that started when you were born: sadness. Donald Trump: sadness (and a huge fear !!!). But sometimes it happens that a cold flow comes from the stomach that reaches the lungs and makes the breath so heavy. You look around: your mother is cooking lunch, your dog sleeps as usual, there is a beautiful sunny day outside. You have already finished your homework, you have a girlfriend and there is nothing going wrong. But you feel this anxiety and you can’t manage it. And the step to feeling very sad is short.

Remember: your feelings have a source, always! If you are sad, anxious or depressed and everything looks good in your life, there is still something going wrong, most likely inside you! To make you understand this better, I want to show you my personal experience. I have a bachelor in philosophy. After graduation, I had no idea what to do for my future. But I only knew one of my biggest desires: to live abroad. The problem was that I didn’t have enough money to look for work in another country (travel, accommodation, first expenses, etc …). Thanks to a search on the web I found the European Solidarity Corp, briefly explained, a type of international mobility with which a voluntary organization offers you free accommodation, reimbursed travel and pocket money.

I was so happy when I found this kind of experience because I considered it to be the solution to all my problems. Finally I will have a life away from my family, with my money, to follow all my dreams and hobbies. “Maybe after this experience, I will find a job in the Europe”. And you can imagine my joy when Simon Comunity chose me as a European volunteer. I will live with other guys from Germany, Spain, Italy and even Seattle. For such an outgoing and curious person like me, this opportunity has appeared like a paradise. Make friends and talk about our countries, our cultural difference, go together to have fun … a dream that would become reality.

But when I got there, I felt absolutely nothing. The guys were so friendly and nice, the city was so pretty, I was able to find activities to do, things to visit etc … but nothing. My head was always lost in his thoughts and it was impossible for me to enjoy the present. I was mad at me. Try looking at the beauty around you, thinking about how beautiful the people who live with you are, your evening at the pub with them etc … Nothing! And over time, the bad things that were there begin to arise (because every kind of experience has good and bad things). And anxiety and sadness began to appear in my life, and from nowhere I start to come in a rather sad state of mind.

I have spent my first three months swinging between positive and negative moments, but I’ve never felt true happiness, I’ve never noticed how beautiful things around me were. And to make things more complicated, this stupid heart decided to try something for an unrequited love. My first crisis came during a Cork workout. I cried like a baby for hours while I was phoning my best friend who lives in Naples, the city where I come from. And in that moment I learned my first important lesson: if another person and not you, ask you why you are sad, it is easier for you to find an answer. My roommates, who were training with me, from the first moment asked me why I felt bad. And I lied to her because I didn’t have the courage to talk to them and because I didn’t have a clear idea of ​​my sadness. But thanks to this question, thanks to their interest, I started thinking and I found a weak but very important first answer: them.

In fact, due to the question about my feelings, my brain started digging and in a short time revealed me some mental images, my memories of the past two months. My roommates were so delightful as they talked, smiled and found a collective mood with which they had fun or discussed important matters. It was so complicated for me to try to go into the discussions and often my participation was so unsuitable, sometimes rude or not easy to understand. In recent months they have acquired their own language, their own dynamics and I had to hang on for my moment and perhaps it would never have come. And the worst part is that they were (And are still now!!!) friendly and kind to me. If they had been fucking assholes, I would have accepted the situation without problems. Precisely because they were so good and nice to me when I needed their help or support, I felt out of place.They were like a desire object impossible to reach. 

Hence, at that moment, I decided to do something I had never done until then. And the specific moment I did it, I noticed I had never done it. I never opened up, expressing my feelings. I have never admitted it to a friend or relative: I am grieved and for this reason. Thank goodness, I pluck up the courage to admit my feelings because they were capable to explain to me what was going on. I was just the newcomer and everything in my life was changing. I was incapable to take my time, mainly because I was used to making friends in my language, so quickly. For this reason, it seemed to me in my head that I was unable to socialize, but it was not true. They told me that nobody in the house had problems with me, and everyone had a great respect for me.

Trust me, this conversation aided me a lot. Foremost, I enjoyed the training. Even today, I still have a fond memory of this experience. I had much fun with them, thanks to the security that their speech gave me. After this training, my stay at home has improved a lot, as has my friendship with roommates. Furthermore, without knowing it, a new path of awareness has started. In fact, this is only the beginning. You can’t imagine what happened in the following months. I will tell you, on this blog, in the next few days.

Now, what can I suggest, through my personal experience?

1) If you are sad or do not feel the happiness you believe you should enjoy, ask yourself if there are problems. 
2) Talk to your friends about your feelings and make an effort to explain why you are depressed. In this way, you will let your mind dig and find out.
3) Open up yourself with respect but honesty.
4) Face your fear! If it’s embarrassing for you to admit to a person that you’re sad, do it anyway!
5) If you harbour any doubts about the idea that other people have about you, talk to them and ask them to be honest!
6) When you find out why you are sad or anxious, do your best to overcome it but take your time.

14th October 2020: I arrive at Galway

Going away! Going away from my family! Going away out of my little town. Going away to the grey-haired woman who asks me every day if I have a girlfriend, the same old lady me inevitably find in the same bar every morning, so much so that I wonder if she was built with the bar. Going away means many things. It means to change. Change your habits, change your mind, change your clothes because it rains every day in Galway.

And it’s normal to wonder if it’s worth it! But me in particular, why did I leave? Thanks for the question! After my degree in philosophy, I had no idea what to do in the future, especially because in Italy humanities degree have the same value as consistency in politics: zero! So, I decided to do what every conscientious young man must do in this century. Seek help from an more senior person? No fucking way! Google it! So, like a 50-year-old man looking for the first time to find a porn video, I wrote on the web: “come vivere estero gratis”, namely “how – live – abroad -free”. 

Luckily, a web page appeared where there were many types of solution to experience abroad without spending money. The first was the au pair. Now … I don’t mean I don’t recommend it, but if a person says “au pair” in front of me, I could run away, scream and sprinkle ash on my head. The main problem with this type of mobility is you have to entrust your life to unknown people. Maybe, but it’s just a guess (cough – cough) it could happen that you will spend 4 months of your life preparing a huge number of documents, you will take the plane for the first time, you will arrive in a new country, you will take care of a child for the first time, you will arrive at the end of the destroyed day and after only a week, with a big bright smile on the face, the people who will host you will say: you are smart, you are good but you are too qualified and we have already purchased the ticket for you go back to Naples. See you!

What happens now? I was so angry, sad but particularly worried! I have lost 4 months of my life, and my ideas about my future were increasingly confused. On that occasion, I realized that I had only one possibility: to lick my wounds and detect another type of European mobility. It’s utterly amazing but on the same page there was another tip that I didn’t notice the first time. It was the European Solidarity Corps. How does it work? On the web there are many projects on human rights, charity, culture, non-formal teaching etc. You can send them your CV and a cover letter. If they are interested, they will contact you. As a volunteer you will receive free accommodation and pocket money. They also reimburse the plane ticket.

An opportunity impossible to miss. It took me only a few days to write a good cover letter and to improve my resume. I don’t know why, but I was so motivated to get an interview. And I earned three. The first came from Ireland, the second from Belgium and the third from Luxembourg. I liked all three projects and for this reason I decided to accept the first one who considered me. It was the Galway Simon Community. I will work with the homeless. I was enormously proud of me. I have invested a good part of my previous life doing activism and now I will assist those who necessitate it and this make me feel full of joy. But … how was my first day in Galway? This is another story! Stay up to date!

Fishing. How young drink.

“How old are you?” “15” “Do you usually drink?” “Yes, I do it!” “How is it possible?” “Fishing!” This jargon is the same answer to the same question. How is it possible that a 15-year-old can drink a beer if in theory nobody can sell it? The answer is always fishing. I was talking with a two 15 year old girls when I first heard this word. I’ve just asked them how they buy the alcohol, and they answer me by “fishing.” The slang means when a minor asks to an adult to buy the alcohol for him, to overcome the ban on his age. We have a good and a bad news about Galway. The bad one is the fishing is widespread. In fact, another group of minors confirmed this to me.

Every Galway young uses fishing (ed. Is a verb) to spend most of his free time. It is a type of fashion and is part of their nighttime fun. The good news is they explained to me that it is difficult to find people willing to help you fish. They are habitually college students or older friends. Adults prefer to avoid. There are two reasons for this avoidance. Foremost, there is a civic sense that nobody wants to support young people buy beer or any type of alcohol.

Alcohol represent a serious Irish issue and Galway adult are aware of it. The second one is that law is extremely strong against fishing. The sentence could be serious, and nobody wants to take this risk. Even the guys interviewed confirm this to me. In fact, when I asked them how fishing works, they told me that the first rule is to meet away from the selected shop, in an isolated place, away from prying eyes. If the shop worker or Garda captures you fishing, they may directly report you.

So, these guys probably spend much time finding a person that want to help them. Why? I asked them why they drank and if they know how alcohol works, if they are of its sneaky nature. They told me they needed it to socialize. But it’s not just an opening problem.

Because it is untrue that a good number of them need to drink to socialize. On the contrary, they need socializing and especially for this they drink, just because it is something that everyone does in their free time, especially young people. It is not true they go out to drink, but it’s true they drink to go out, to spend social life with their friends. Now, the question is: it’s just their belief or doesn’t they seriously have something else to let their weekend go by? For now, they know how sneaky alcohol could be but simultaneously they believe they can handle it. And none of them seem to really know what alcoholism means.