I still believe in my good luck. Why? My next meeting brought me such an interesting journey. This time I was able to ?fly? for two hours with my interlocutor, Mario Colamarino, to Italy, the country which we mostly connect with pasta, pizza and Italian romance.
Honestly speaking, this meeting was really surprising to me and thanks to Mario, who is 23 years old, studies law at the University of Warsaw and comes from Napoli, I was able to discover something about both Polish and Italian cultures and got to listen to many extremely fascinating stories. Welcome to the Italian point of view, full of facts that will definitely surprise you!
Maja Maciejska: Ciao! (It. – Hi!)
Mario Colamarino: Hi.
It?s a bit cold, don?t you think?
No, common. I am wearing a swimming suit. I just ?love? your Polish weather! Besides that, you are right, but I like it anyway! Last time my parents visited me they brought me a suitcase full of warm clothes and my grandma, when we skype, keeps on saying: ?Mario, go back home, it must be so cold in Poland. It looks just like the North Pole?. But the snow has its beauty.
You know, it?s still not that bad. When it gets down to ?30 degrees, then we can complain. Did you think about it before you got to Poland? And why did you decide to choose this part of Europe?
M.C: I was looking for something different from my country. I wanted to discover something new in my life. I believe that travelling shapes our mentality. I have never been in this part of Europe, so that was another reason. As I said, I love visiting new places. I knew right away that this year (I am an Erasmus student) had to be significant and different from the others. I had a feeling that it might be challenging. For Italians, Poland is still an unknown country. It?s not a typical destination. What is more, I am keen on contemporary history. I felt that your country is currently between past and modern times.
And what can you say after the first semester? Have you made a right decision?
M.C: I have! The truth is that in Italy we think about Poland still in a bit old-fashioned way, as one of the post-communist countries. That?s why it surprised me in a positive way when I came here. Warsaw is growing, I can see it. In my opinion, when a country develops after a long period – in your case, years of communism – it needs some time to achieve that. It?s hard to jump over the ?gap year?. A lot of interesting events happen here. Public transport is really good. I mean, in Warsaw, because it got a little bit harder when I wanted to see other Polish cities. It was confusing, with all these different types of trains. And so far, I have met many new people, so from that perspective I know that it really was a good decision!
Tell me, how does it feel to be an Erasmus student? Was it hard at the beginning to meet new people and try not to stay only in the Italian circle?
It was hard at the beginning, that’s for sure. I was lucky because I?ve had Polish friends, so I lived with them for a couple of days. I had a really good chance to get used to the new life. And my neighbors are great. I keep on getting some typical Polish food from time to time, for example faworki and pączki.
Your country is in a crisis and you will be having an election soon. What do you think about it?
Speaking of crisis, I think that now in Italy we are out of the storm, but we still have to make some reforms and we should change some parts of our constitution, so that we could meet modern European standards. I think that our current Prime Minister, Mario Monti, has done really well, even though he used taxes to stimulate the growth. The crisis was not born in Italy but in the United States in 2008. Europe has to be strong, cooperate deeply and change the way how E.U. citizens look at this construction. We are all Europeans and we have to fight together and be more integrated, not just economically, but politically and socially.
We will be having an election in Italy in few weeks. Unfortunately, I won?t be able to vote, because of technical reasons, but I believe that this time Italians will make a good choice. They know what I am referring to. I want to remind them: this time guys, vote first and get drunk later. Not like the last time.
Said the expert of politics! Is it hard to be an Erasmus student?
My philosophy of life is simple: when I come to a new place, I try to squeeze it at some point, which means to meet the culture on 100%. Fortunately, I started cooperating with the University of Warsaw Students? Union. We organize a lot of events for international students. That, for sure, has helped me a lot. For example, we arranged Tandem Evenings. They work really simple: you get a partner from a different country and you both teach each other, learn from one another. By the way, it was such a great opportunity to improve my Polish, that I?ve just passed my Polish exams.
Congratulations! The thing you said about the Students? Union was really interesting. I mean, that might be also helpful for the other Erasmus students as a way of meeting new people. Do you participate in any other events similar to that one?
That?s true. And it goes like that: I meet someone, who knows someone, who knows someone else, and the circle gets bigger and bigger. But, back to you question ? yes, I do. We meet from time to time in one of the university?s halls and watch Polish movies, with English subtitles obviously. That is another opportunity to understand your culture a little bit more, and just to meet with people, talk to them. I also work as a volunteer in Warsaw. All of these things make my stay here so inspiring.
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Come back tomorrow for the second part of the interview with Mario!