Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dad’s visit

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When I announced to my family that I would see them in the summer after the end of my exchange year, and not over Christmas break, I knew that I had triggered something.

Like the United States, Italian society is very much family centered. Families are the first places of socialization for little humans. The process of growing up is overseen and supported emotionally and financially until little humans get bigger and ready to leave home. At which point, their independence causes their ties with the family to get thinner.

Kids in the US start taking up jobs to sustain themselves financially as soon as they enter college, and  once done with college they’re gone for good and ready to be independent. In Italy, this is not the case. Families try as hard as they can to preserve co-dependency with grown up kids. Hence the stereotype of the over-protective and extremely caring Italian Mamma. Italian parents have a tendency to cling to their children especially when they are getting independent. No wonder why the average age of adults leaving the family home for the first time in strikingly higher than the US. Even the average age for young adults to get their first job. Well, that’s also because the state of Italian economy is not very kind to young people at the moment. But I don’t want to get political now. I will, in due time: we have election on March the 4th, and I just requested my absentee ballot from the General Consulate of Italy in DC.

Lecture time is over. In light of these considerations, the point I was trying to make is that  I did not go see my family for Christmas, therefore my family is sending envoys to come see me.

On a short notice, my dad notified me of his arrival a week before. The funny bit is that he told me he would be staying for a month. As a matter of fact, as I write, he is still in the US. Not in D.C, but in New York. He came last weekend and remained until last Tuesday.

We didn’t do much, because of the bad weather. But we got to catch up on some stuff that I had put off. We went to Walmart and bought a table for the living room, a bunch of kitchen utensils, bathroom products and so on. Walmart is always an experience for us Europeans, and it was the first time for my dad as well.

Most importantly, from as empty as black hole, my fridge was replenished in a matter of hours thanks to my dad. And so was my stomach. I had forgotten how he is at cooking.

We also watched the Superbowl, but since we didn’t really know the rule of the game we got bored easily. On Monday, he came to visit me at work at the EU delegation.  Anyway, it was a very good weekend.

I love to see how Italian family bonds adjust to globalization.

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My First Try of Ice Skating

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    Taiwan is located between a tropical and subtropical area, so it does not snow in winter. Therefore, apparently, we lack exciting activities like ice skating or skiing to enjoy. If people want to participate in these activities, they might choose to go to countries nearby such as Japan or Korea for an one-day trip. Last year, when I went to Chuncheon, which situated in northern Korea, I seized the precious opportunity to learn skiing. Although it was extremely cold, I felt nothing but excitement and bliss. With the experience, I made up my mind to try any winter activities at least once. Fortunately, TRAILS has arranged an ice skating plan that is free for all students, so I registered right away.

    We walked to Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink, which is just a few blocks away from GWU. The admission fee for an adult is 10 dollars and if you need to rent the skates, you have to pay 6 dollars more. For me, the price is reasonable but a little bit expensive, so I decided to make full advantage of it. I was so nervous at the beginning because it was really hard to maintain the balance. I kept screaming and hold the penguin (a cute tool for beginners to keep in balance) still and tight to avoid falling. But after a few hours, when I tried to believe in myself and skated in strides, I could catch the tips step by step.

    It was an extremely memorable and exciting experience for me, especially when I skated with my dear friends. But time always flies! We had to leave the ice rink after hours of skating. With the beautiful sunset and harbor, I accomplished my first ice skating trip. For those who enjoy ice skating, Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink may serve your needs. You can also enjoy a great meal in the restaurant by the harbor, admiring the scenery at night with a sense of tranquility.

Zoo in DC

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As the new year began, I vowed to put an end to procrastination. One of my new year’s resolution was to stop procrastination and putting off things to do. The main goal is that of getting to the end of the day knowing that I did not waste my time.

It is very likely that you end up not doing much of your day when it’s cold outside, warm inside, and school deadlines are not pressing yet.

It was a beautiful day in DC, at least 15º(celsius). It felt like a pause from the crippling winter-like cold that haunts most of the East Cost. So I decided I would do something I have been procrastinating since I was a child. That is, going to the zoo. My parents have always avoided taking me to animals-related attractions such as to zoos or circuses. There was no particular reason, it just wasn’t a family thing to do.

At 21 one years of age I have the chance to catch up with this long overdue childhood experience.

Here’s some pictures from the Smithsonian zoo.

 

Let’s Cook for Ourselves!

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    In my first days at GW, we exchange students ate at restaurants a lot, so I spent too much money. So, I decided to find a great market to cook by myself. By doing so, I could not only spare some money, but also make several kinds of dishes that I like. In an extremely cold morning, my friends and I went out for our shopping journey.

    I love GW so much because you can almost find every place you want to go nearby, and the supermarket is no exception. The market we found is called Trader Joe’s and it was on the 25th Street. The things that the market sell are mostly fruits, vegetables, ingredients, foods, and so on, so if you want to look for household devices or daily products, you may want to search for another market.

 

 

    If you feel tired or cold when you first got in the market you can go to an area where the market kindly offers customers free hot coffee. You can make sweet latte if you want because they also offer you hot milk and vanilla cream. It is always the best thing to drink a cup of warm coffee in winter, isn’t it?

    There will be some special discounts from time to time, so if you pay attention to it, you can save a lot of money from your pocket! Also, there is an area for free food samples. It is great to have free delicious foods there, but you might easily spend money buying the things that are not on your list because the clerk who was promoting the special dishes there is so adorable. Take us for example, we bought a pack of frozen potatoes there after trying one!

    We really enjoyed our time at the market and we bought a lot of ingredients in a cheap price that we can cook for several meals throughout the week. If you are looking for a great food market, go to Trader Joe’s and grab your stuffs.

Georgetown

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    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.

    After arriving at GW, I have heard of a lot of people recommending Georgetown as a place worth visiting. Thus, I put Georgetown on my top list and I went there with my friends in one lovely afternoon. Georgetown is pretty close to GW, so you can go there either by walking or taking a bus. We chose to take a circulator because we were afraid of getting lost in this new environment. Besides, it only cost one dollar to take a circulator.

    Without exaggeration, Georgetown is so amazingly beautiful. All the houses and stores there have their unique appearances, but still stay in a harmonious order at the same time. There are so many shops in Georgetown, so if you want to buy some souvenirs or products of any specific brand, it might be the first choice.

  

    We had our lunch at a Spanish restaurant, Bodega, which my friend’s roommate strongly recommends us to go after shopping for a while. We ordered two sets of express lunch, including free bread, two starters and four tapas and they were really delicious (express lunch is only available Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM and each set is $16.)

 

    In addition to all those beautiful stores, Georgetown is also well-known for its cupcakes, so we went to one of the most famous cupcake stores, Georgetown Cupcake, to try one. There are a variety of cupcakes you can choose from and each of them is $3.50. I spent a long time pondering over which one to buy because there are so many flavors that I would like to try. Eventually, I got a confetti vanilla cupcake. It tasted awesome, but it was a little bit too sweet for me. For those who do not like to eat too sweet, red velvet must be your first priority.

 

    All in all, if you are planning for a tour not far away from campus, head to Georgetown and enjoy your time there. Just don’t forget to try a cupcake!

Semester 1 versus Semester 2

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During semester 1 I was looking forward to Semester 2. Semester 2 makes me nostalgically look back to semester 1. Why’s that? I went back to school on January the 16th after a month long winter break, during which I didn’t realize I was crossing an important, milestone line. That of adulthood. Yes, It might sound presumptuous. But that’s how it is: Semester 2 definitely feels closer to what the future will be like, whereas semester 1 in retrospective looks like a period of my life that is unlikely to come back.

You might be wondering what differs from the two semesters. Well, I am working now. Well, I am interning to be precise.

I have worked before, but this is the first time I get acquainted with a Job in a domain that fully reflects my interest. I work at the EU delegation to the US, the most active diplomatic mission of the European Union, in the section of politics, security and development. One of those names that would make your grandma really proud of you without her really understanding what the deal is.

I catch myself saying very adult stuff. “I’ll see you later at the office”, “I’ll get off earlier today” or again, “the sweet green salad I had for lunch was so good and didn’t make me sleepy afterwards”. I started doing very adult things like wearing suits and talking with my co-workers about how annoying ironing shirts is and saying no to going out cause “guys, I start at 9am tomorrow, I don’t wanna be a zombie”. I punctually end up being a zombie every morning by the way. That’s because it is so tiring that when I get back home after work, typically at 5, I doze off for like, 2 hours and mess up my sleeping schedule. So that I won’t be asleep until 1:30 am. (I will take suggestions as to how to interrupt this sleep related problem, and no, melatonine doesn’t work for me, it makes me groggy.)

So yes, maybe “adult” is too strong a word. Although, semester 2 is indeed making me feel less young, less naive, less unaccountable to life. I feel that what I am living right now is the anti-chamber of what life is. Or, at list what it will look like.

And it’s not even a question of wether I like it or not, it is a simple life fact that I (and we, all) happen to have to deal with: time flies. And I can’t think of doing anything else right now other than stop and stare at what I was and what I become.

Chinatown

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     It has been about two weeks since I arrived at GW. Although there are various American foods here that I have not tried yet, I still miss Asian Food a lot. Therefore, my friends and I decided to go to Chinatown to enjoy local Chinese food to relieve our homesickness.

    Chinatown is not too far from GW. You can get there by taking the metro to Metro Center Station and walk about ten minutes. When you see a huge colorful arch with Chinese characters “中國城” on it, you know you are at the right place. In addition to the arch, you can also see many Chinese symbols everywhere.

 

(Dragon is a symbol of luck in traditional Chinese culture and in ancient China, emperors wore dragon robes to show their authority and power.)

 

(Chinese Animal Zodiac Sign is a repeating cycle of twelve years with a specific animal that corresponds to each year. The order comes as: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Chinese people remember the animal that symbolizes the year they are born and the particular features that animal represents.)

It was so cold that day, so we decided to go into a restaurant and have our lunch to warm up ourselves immediately after taking photos of this beautiful place. The restaurant we chose is called “Chinatown Express.” It is quite a famous restaurant because The Washington Post and The New York Times have introduced the place. It was crowded then, but we were fortunate enough to find a table.

  

We ordered different kinds of foods and shared with each other. We did so not only because we wanted to save our money, but because it was a part of Chinese culture to sit together and share our food to show our intimate relationship.

 

(You can get a pot of free hot tea as soon as you sit down. For those who tend to eat a lot, I strongly recommend chicken fried rice!)

When we finished all our meals, each of us got a fortune cookie as our dessert. It was so exciting to pull out the letter in the cookie to see what it writes.

   

Chinatown is a really cool place for not only Asian people, but anyone who is interested in Chinese culture. If you feel bored after finishing eating, there are still a lot of stores that you can go shopping around there, such as GAP, Forever 21, H&M, etc.