Italian temper, serenades and Queen Margherita’s house party – you can read about these things, among many others, in the second part of our interview with Mario Colamarino, an Italian who studies law at our university.

If you missed the first part, just head over to:

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Maja Maciejska: Listening to you makes me think that you?re a perfect example of an ideal exchange student! Please tell us something more about your volunteering.

Mario Colamarino: To be honest with you, I?ve spent my first weeks in Poland like a typical Erasmus student. After some time I started to feel that I miss my old, hectic life and that?s why I decided to sign up for the community service which I have been doing back home. It?s called the Comunit? di Sant’Egidio and it was founded in 1968 in Rome when a group of 20 people decided to change something. Day by day more people were joining them and right now this community also exists in other parts of the world, for example in Africa. I?ve been cooperating with them for five years. For me it?s a chance to grow up in a way I want to. Right now we are having weekend meetings on Świętokrzyska Street and we are helping homeless people living in Warsaw.

Do you see any differences between Polish and Italian standards based on your experience?
Here most of homeless people are Polish, whereas in Italy they are mostly immigrants. It?s a bit easier for them in my country, mostly because of the weather. When it gets really cold, food stops being the main problem, because these people don?t even have a place to sleep.

Could you tell us what is your favourite Polish movie?
I personally like Krzysztof Kieślowski?s movies. I also like ?Sala Samobójców?, which  was a little weird, but also very interesting. In Italy we had a chance to get a little bit more familiar with your film industry, for example I know ?Lista Schindlera? and ?Pianista?.

What do people generally think about Poland in Italy?
In my opinion, because of the movies, your history, it might be a little bit hard for us to understand you. Our cultures are different. Maybe that?s why Italians think that you live in some sense of a tragedy. As a foreigner I think that when you start living in Poland, you can truly get to like this country and then it becomes easier to become fully aware of the differences. Actually, do you know which Pole is famous in Italy? Zygmunt Bauman. When I was in high school, my philosophy teacher was a huge fan of him. He made us read Bauman?s books, which I really liked.

Seriously? I would have never thought that Bauman might be well-known in your country. I remember that when I was in Italy a couple of years ago I noticed different eating habits, for example your sweet breakfasts, etc. How do you find Polish cuisine?
Well, it is different obviously. In my opinion it is heavier and less healthy. I have even gained weight since I got here. I have to put extra layer like a polar bear to survive. You should know however that I am a cook lover! I truly enjoy being in the kitchen, I even took some cooking classes of Polish cuisine and even made pierogi once. I like being around people, that?s why I try to organize meetings at my place, just to hang out and eat good, home-made food. However, there is one thing that I miss the most – coffee! Even though I have a coffee machine and I even brought my favorite brand of coffee, it still doesn?t taste the same. And do you know why? Because this drink has to be made with love! Maybe water is the reason?

Have you noticed that in Poland we have a saying that Italian cuisine is delicious? What do you think about Polish, quasi-Italian pizzas?
Yes, I have noticed that. I try not to eat typical meals, which I could have eaten back home. Polish pizza is good or at least not bad. I am from Napoli, the homeland of pizza. Have you ever heard the story about how pizza was discovered?

No, surprise me!
By the end of the 19th century, Queen Margherita organized a house party. She wanted to prepare something unusual so she asked her chef to make a new ?pearl?. He knew her taste: she loved tomatoes and mozzarella cheese and that?s how it all started. The meal gained a huge echo and thanks to the queen, we can all enjoy pizza now. But remember, if you want to eat the best pizza ever, go to Napoli! Nowadays, you can barely find standard ovens. Most restaurants use electric ones but the best taste comes from standard oven with the wood inside. That taste is the best!

You made me feel really hungry. In general, after the very first emotions connected with being in the new place, do you miss anything? Besides coffee, of course.
I started to notice something which I haven?t been aware of before. In Italy we are more touchy. I miss the contact. It?s something connected with mentality and habits. We are close to each other without being close in a strict sense. When I came to Poland I realized that you build higher walls than we do. It doesn?t mean that it?s bad, it?s just the way it is – beauty of different cultures!

That?s what I believe Polish people think about Italians – that you are full of ?amore?, rather extrovert than introvert. I am generalizing right now but that?s what we are talking about: the stereotypes. People are scared to love and to be loved. Love is very unique. One time is no time. Love is something unknown and you just have to follow it.

But there is something in it. It loses me sometimes, especially with the girls. I like having people around me. In Italy we go outside very often, mostly because of the beautiful weather, although it depends on the region.

In Italy there is a common joke that when you meet a girl in the disco and she says: ?Oh, I have a boyfriend?, we say: ?Oh girl, I don?t care. I am not jealous?. I know one thing: love comes from the depths of our heart. We smile a lot, we sing a lot. Speaking of singing, two weeks ago I was thinking about singing someone a serenade, even though I understood that because of the ?beautiful? weather I was risking to death. Also, if that person would not open the door, the serenade wouldn?t work. That?s how we Italians express ourselves.

Once when I was in Canada I met a girl from Taiwan. We fell in love, so I visited her the other year. Since then, for example, I can?t eat wasabi anymore! I will never forget the day I  went to the restaurant with her dad and he said: ?Mario, eat some?. I tried wasabi and it burned me from inside, which was a real problem, because they didn?t have any water to drink, just a hot tea. That was the worst thing that ever happened to me. Their culture is amazing but no more wasabi, please!

Let me ask about our university. Could you compare studying law in Italy and in Poland? Is it any different? Which one is harder to study?
I really like my studies because I would like to be an administrative lawyer in the future. Who knows, maybe I?ll find a job somewhere in Europe. My classes are in English and the professors are very professional. I think that classes in Poland are more like a laboratory. Erasmus courses are definitely different.

Do you think that this year may help you somehow in the future? Open some new doors?
Living for one year in another country is something that helps you to change your point of view and to grow up, to confront with different people from different countries. For me Poland will always be connected with very good memories.

Now let?s describe us, the Polish people. Try to use adjectives ?positive? and ?negative while trying to draw the image of our society.
Positive: friendly and negative: conservative. Just like Italy, Poland has to grow up and make steps in terms of the civil rights. We should especially try to teach the new generation how to be respectful to other people.

Thank you so much for this conversation. Tell me, what should I wish you?
Wish me good luck, love and more ?bunga-bunga?. No, I am just kidding.

Grazie mille! (Thank you so much).
You are welcome. And remember, when a day is finished, be happy because a new one is starting. A new day for dreams, for love, for living.