Coming Full Circle With Anxiety

Phonto

Booked a one-way ticket to Switzerland with no plan, no job or a place to live. I had no idea how I would make it, but I had faith. Back track to a few years back, I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, if someone told me I’d be doing a solo travel backpacking trip with no plan, I wouldn’t believe them. Here I was about to embark on this journey all-alone, as a woman to see how long I travel for.

I met these wonderful guys where I was camping and they invited me to go rock climbing, which I’ve never done before. I was down for anything. So long living in fear, I was going to try whatever I have not tried before at least once. Those who have experienced anxiety, trusting this guy with my life to climb a rock face could be a little nerve-wracking. I was strangely calm.

I climbed for the first time; each step and each move was very calculated. Climbing was like trying to solve a puzzle, trying to figure out where to your foot or hand in the right pocket. I would get stuck at a spot not sure where to go, thinking, “I can’t do this.” But I did not allow my fear to creep up and cause me to panic. I took a deep breath and said to myself, “You got this.” Eventually when I slapped the chain at the top, I felt a rush of accomplishment. A sense of “I can do anything I set my mind to.

I climbed four more times after that. Adam, who was holding my end of the rope, was impressed by how well I took to climbing being that it was my first time. He was surprised by the natural ability I had and the techniques I used, which some really experienced climbers know how to do. He wanted pushed me to see how I could handle each and every climb. He wanted to test my strength, mentally and physically.

When I arrived at the hard one, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. It was a lot of feet involved, which means most of the climbing is done crawling up the rock. I tried to attempt it and I slipped. It startled me but I got right back up and tried again. His encouragement and my drive kept me going. It took a lot of strength and control to climb to the top but I did it. It was invigorating. I loved the rush of climbing.

When I finally got down, Adam looked at me and said, “You have no fear.” Everything in that moment came full circle. All the hard work I’ve done on myself to overcome my fears and anxiety was validated in that moment. I felt so amazing after climbing with Adam and his friends all day. I knew I was meant to meet them along my travel journey, to show me I can do anything.

Why I Came Back To The U.S.

It took me a while to write this and apart of me is still processing it all. I went through and still am going through the emotions where I feel like I failed. I thought I would last a lot longer in Europe, heck I thought I was going to live in Switzerland for good or at least the rest of the season until October. My previous posts talk about my struggles in Switzerland so I decided to leave for Italy.

I met with Briana and Alissa, the couch surfers I met back in Interlaken, in Cinque Terre. It was surreal to be in my “homeland” for the first time. I was so excited, I felt like I came full circle. All the hard work of getting my Italian passport was being rewarded right now. I could not wait to explore Italy and eventually make it down to Sicily where my family came from.

We spent a lovely three days in Cinque Terre at this beautiful villa, La Francesca. We did not want to leave!10417465_10202417629705333_7618343431701256538_n

After preparing to leave Cinque Terre, I was getting ready to part ways with my new dear friends I met when I realized I still had a whole day left until I was supposed to be in Rimini for work. I miscalculated the days. The girls were going to Pisa and then to Rome, they said please come with us to Pisa. I did not have any other plans and I always wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa anyway, so I changed my plans and went with them.—

I’m apprehensive to write this next part, but I want people to know shit happens, whether you are home or traveling; sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst. We arrived in Pisa, hoping this would be a day trip; see the tower and leave for Rome.

We had lunch and were figuring out where we were staying for the night because we arrived later than expected. We were exhausted and wanted to find a hostel that was closest to the train station so we can leave easily the next morning. We found a hostel, I will name this one and you’ll know why soon.

We found Central Station Brandi’s Guest House; it was in our price budget and was close to the train station. We started walking to the hostel and some guy on a vespa came up to us asking if we were looking for the hostel, we said yes. He said ok, I work there I will show you where it is. He sped away and we continued walking in the direction of where he went.

We walked in; it was very tiny, maybe one or two rooms with bunks. He said I do not have any more room for you ladies here but I have another hostel back near the train station. We were exhausted carrying our packs but we turned around and went back to the train station where he would meet us. He was initially a little flirty with Briana when we first got there which was a little weird but not so much where I felt unsafe. He asked who wanted to ride on the back of his Vespa to the fountain near the train station. Alissa and I had too much to carry, so Briana went. They sped off.

When we finally met up at the fountain, Carlo took us to the other hostel. It was inside, which seemed to be an apartment building. We walked inside; it looked like someone’s flat. Its not uncommon for people to use their homes as hostels or guesthouses so I wasn’t concerned.

We went into the room where there were three bunks; some looked like other people were staying too. Carlo said there was four other English girls staying in the other room down the hall, which made me, feel more at ease that we weren’t the only ones here. He said, “Ok 45 euro for all three of you.” I said I would pay and they can pay me the difference. I told Carlo I only had a 50 so I’ll need change, he said “no problem I’ll bring you to where we can get change.”

I walked with him to fill out necessary paperwork to stay at the hostel; he shut the door where Briana and Alissa were unpacking. We were standing in the middle of the hallway filling out the paperwork, showing him my passport etc. I don’t know if he was impressed or turned on that I had an Italian passport. He asked if I spoke Italian, I said no. He was probably about 6ft 200lbs, he was a big guy and I’m 5’2, so out of nowhere picked me up where I was bear hugging him from the front.

He said, “Kiss me”. I was startled and moved my head when he tried to kiss me. Every time I moved my head he moved in to kiss me. I gave him a quick peck because I really didn’t have a choice, he was holding me pretty tight and I just wanted to get down.

I said, “I just want my change, would you hurry up already.”

He said with this animalistic sexual look, “Look what you do to me.” I said, “I didn’t do shit, just hurry up.”

We went to walk downstairs to get my change when he threw me into a dark corner down the hall. You think you would know what to do in a situation like that, I can’t tell you how many times a situation like that went through my head and I always would tell myself, I’d kill someone if they attacked me.

I was caught off guard. He was feeling me up, touching my chest over my clothes and I was trying to push him away. He unzipped his pants and took my hand to touch his genitals, I said stop probably about four times at this point. I grabbed his hand because he was trying to go up my shorts and he grabbed my wrist and put it against the wall.

That was the moment where I was really scared. I felt his strength against mine and knew it would be hard to fight him off if I had to. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you scream?” Everything happened so fast, you’re scared, in shock and it’s hard to think.

On the fifth time of me telling him to stop, he did. I face palmed his face and pushed him away from me. He looked at me and said, “I hate you.” I said, “Get the fuck outta here, go get my damn change.”

When we came back upstairs to see Briana and Alissa, they were chatting with Carlo about where the tower was. He was hugging me from the side and acted like nothing happened. The girls were smiling and laughing with Carlo and one thing about me is, I cannot hide my emotions. It’s usually written all over my face.

Briana was laughing at something Carlo said and I kept staring at her, she caught on and realized something was wrong. Carlo left; I put a table in front of the door because we didn’t have locks on the doors. I told them what happened, they were shocked. We went to look for those other English girls, they weren’t there and their door was locked. I thought this doesn’t seem right, I don’t think there were ever any other people here. Another room looked like someone’s bedroom, any alerts, red flags were going off rampant. Who knows what kind of place this could be.

I was shaking and trying not to cry. I felt violated and disgusted; I went straight to the bathroom to wash my hands. I wanted to wash what just happened away. There wasn’t any soap; I almost used a whole bottle of hand sanitizer to clean my hands. The girls said, “What do we do now?” I said, “ we pack our shit and get the fuck outta here, this is not a safe place. I’d rather pay 200 euro and know we’re safe than stay in this place.”

We immediately packed our things and left for another hostel. We found a safer hostel and things were better. I was worried about the 45 Euro that I just lost, so we left our stuff and went looking for Carlo. All three of us walked together to the first hostel, we found him. He tried to fight us about it, we said the hostel was dirty, which it was but we didn’t talk about what happened to me because we didn’t think we would get our money back that way.

The next morning, we saw the tower, said our goodbyes and parted ways. Rimini was great but I was concerned about money, I wasn’t getting paid for the job I was doing there which I knew from the beginning but the exchange rate was not good versus the US dollar. I only saw my account draining and my job was not guaranteed.

The job was to drive traffic to the hostel using my blog and fan base, this was a big hostel and I didn’t think I would give him the numbers he wanted. He said if I couldn’t than this would only be for the month, which meant I had to immediately look for other work and another place to stay. I honestly did not know what to do.

I started to panic a little bit, I thought of making a desperate move to Croatia because it may be cheaper, I thought of going to Thailand but realized I’d have to figure out how to get a visa and wait for it to go through. I called home and told my dad I literally had not a single clue what to do. He said to come home, regroup and figure out a plan for your next move.

I was resistant to coming home, but later after giving it some thought, I felt relieved. I’d much rather go home with some money still in my account than risk it getting too low and than if I do need to come, I wouldn’t be able to.

Being sexually assaulted is not how I wanted to experience my first Italy trip. Switzerland was a struggle; Italy wasn’t much easier and than that? I was done. I needed to be home with friends and family to mentally process everything.

Some people expressed their opinions about me coming home. I should have stayed, I didn’t do it right, I didn’t manage my money correctly, I should have done this vs. that, you only were there for 3-4 months etc.

Last time I checked, traveling the world is not a competition. There is no correct way to travel; we all are on our own paths. I don’t owe anyone an explanation but I care about my readers and fans, so they deserve to hear the truth. I did what felt right for me in that moment. I am not done traveling. This is not the end of my journey, I need to clear my head and figure out my next move.

Am I still going to travel solo?

Yes. I will not allow one douchebag to scare me from traveling by myself. And you shouldn’t be either. I am very proud of myself for doing what I did; I do not regret any of it. Situations like mine can happen anywhere, whether you are home or abroad. Do not let one incident ruin your dreams. It was certainly scary for sure but I will process it, let it go and move on.

I know it wasn’t my fault but apart of me wishes I did more, I should have screamed, kicked him in the balls, something. But that won’t get me anywhere. Staying in the victim state will not allow myself to heal emotionally. I am grateful it was not any worse because it easily could have. I am grateful that Briana, Alissa and I were safe. That’s all that matters.

As for my plans, I don’t know where I am going next. I’m focusing on establishing my life coach business online so I can easily work online anywhere. I still plan to write posts, maybe become a tourist in my own state, there are so many cool things to do here in New Jersey.

**I did contact hostel bookers because thats where we found his hostel, I told them what happened and they immediately took his hostel off their website. Hostelbookers told me to call the police but I was already back home by then. I honestly did not think about going to the police at that time, I just wanted to get out of there. 

How To Take The Best Picture At Pisa

You can take the typical picture of holding the Leaning Tower of Pisa….

10502011_10202440510677343_5701545961801446398_nOr you can get creative….

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Or get funny/inappropriate, which is always the best in my opinion…

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And then you can have a man join the fun…

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Or even with some help from friends…

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If you use any of my ideas or come up with something better, send them to me! I will post them on my Facebook page. Let’s see how creative you can get!

Cinque Terre

I tried to think of a title to make it more appealing but no title does Cinque Terre justice. From its sea views to beautiful evening sunsets, its truly paradise…

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I met with Briana and Alissa, the couch surfers I met back in Interlaken, in Cinque Terre. It was surreal to be in my “homeland” for the first time. I was so excited, I felt like I came full circle. All the hard work of getting my Italian passport was being rewarded right now. I could not wait to explore Italy and at some point make it down to Sicily where my family came from.

We spent a lovely three days in Cinque Terre at this beautiful villa, La Francesca. Marco, the owner was very sweet and gave us a room that overlooked the sea. It’s in the middle of the Cilento National Park, where it sits on the edge of a protected marine area that stretches 20km down the coastline. It was easy to get to the other towns, we saw them all in the course of our stay. 10478593_10202417639905588_5522512827302530513_n

The view outside of the reception

The view outside of the reception

The restaurant at La Francesca was delicious too, whether you had seafood or vegetarian, you couldn’t go wrong. The wine was so fresh and from the local vineyards in the area.

Cous cous with veggies, the best meal I ever had.

Cous cous with veggies, the best meal I ever had.

I loved how much Italians put so much love and care into the food they make, at least that was what I experienced at La Francesca. I highly recommend staying here, its a beautiful place.

Hiking trails right next to our villa

Hiking trails right next to our villa

If you stay there, tell Marco I sent you! :) He will appreciate it.

Grazie mille, Marco for your generous hospitality. If I am ever back in Cinque Terre, I’ll always come back to your villa. We enjoyed our stay.

A Bittersweet Goodbye To Switzerland

I went over my last blog piece of leaving Switzerland and realized I wrote out of anger. I want to speak my mind freely and I did, but I don’t want to hurt people. I obviously can’t take back what I said but I apologize for name calling and negativity about Switzerland, I am more professional than that. Switzerland is a wonderful and beautiful place.—–

I came to Switzerland with no plan, no job lined up or a place to live. A friend of mine let me stay with him for a few days until I found something. The hostel I stayed at six years ago, took me in immediately. The owner and the manager were very helpful and even let me live there as well. I am deeply grateful for them doing that for me.

This where I lived at the first hostel.

This where I lived at the first hostel.

I want to be honest about my experiences and I intend to do so. It was not an easy transition at first but I speak of that in my 2 month update blog. I want to keep things positive as I leave Switzerland.

Working at the hotel I once stayed at during my holiday six years ago was different, of course. It wasn’t something I truly enjoyed, like I thought I would. Some of the people I had tiffs with and some I loved. But I knew I wasn’t 100% happy with working there, so I left. But I did learn new things working there like bartending, which I never did before. It was a great experience to learn how to make drinks and get better acquainted with the Swiss currency. The bartender I worked with was always patient with me being I didn’t know the language, the currency that well in the beginning, or the kinds of drinks people ordered but I got the hang of it. And he also made the night fun, so thank you for that.

Working in the bar and the breakfast buffet, helped me learn some more German. Some of the people who came into the bar didn’t speak English so constantly hearing Swiss German helped me understand some of it.

I left the job to find something else a bit more out of the party scene. I found a job near the river on the other side of town. It’s really quiet here and I get to wake up to the mountains every morning. I have a beautiful view. 10409523_10202292936868090_8360484208546128010_nIt was definitely so relaxing here, I did yoga outside and sometimes other campers would join me, which was fun. IMG_20140622_072056306Adam, Woody, Graham and Prof. invited me to go rock climbing in Unterseen, a little town over. It was something I’ve never done before and I loved every minute of it. It may even be my new hobby.

We had a killer rock climbing session!

We had a killer rock climbing session!

I got to experience hang gliding again with the same company who took me six years ago, it was surreal to fly with you Ed. Thank you so much for the awesome flight. It was a lot of fun. If you are ever in Interlaken, check out their company Hang Gliding Interlaken.

Free as a bird

Free as a bird

I fell in love with this place six years ago and I feel a little broken hearted only because its not the place I thought it was, not because of them but because of me. I’m different than I was six years ago.  Swiss people are not “douches” like I said in my last post, thats not right for me to make such a huge generalization of Swiss people. You meet not so nice people anywhere you go whether its home or abroad.

I met lovely Swiss people who taught me about their culture and their way of doing things. I love that everyone has a garden here. Its almost weird if someone doesn’t have one. When I take walks through the town, everyone’s garden is always so big and full of flowers, veggies and herbs.

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I enjoyed reconnecting with those who I knew from last time again, we all got closer. I also enjoyed getting to know new people here as well. I still love the sense of community, that part hasn’t changed. Its one big family. We argue with each other sometimes like brothers and sisters but we move on and still love each other.

One big family

One big family

I loved seeing Switzerland for its beauty. If you come to Switzerland, the best way to see its beauty is by motorcycle. The windy roads and the huge mountains with natural waterfalls, its stunning. The water is so crystal blue, its hard to not fall in love with this place.

IMG_20140703_124001708_HDRI learned so much about myself here, like staying true to myself. And to not write blog posts when you are emotional, lesson learned. I learned I can do anything I set my mind to. Things will always work out in the end when you take big leaps. I appreciate every single person I met here both travelers and my friends. Everyone was willing to help out when needed and not just for me but for anyone. They all have big hearts.

I am out of work again, its nice to live rent free but I have no income and the jobs are filled right now. So its time for me to leave. I met these lovely girls from Couch Surfing, I took them around Interlaken and took them to the zip line park, Seil Park, which was so much fun! Its actually a good price too, only 37 francs and you can stay all day. We did the course a few times. But we came back to the place where I live and did a BBQ, we talked about our travels and the differences of home versus Switzerland. We loved hanging out so much that we made travel plans to have a girls trip in Italy, which was their next destination.

Seilpark Zipline course

Seilpark Zipline course

BBQ time!

BBQ time!

Alissa and Briana are now in Italy and we decided to have a little girls trip in Cinque Terre, Italy. I will be leaving Switzerland on Sunday to hang with them for a few days and then to Rimini where I have a job at another hostel managing their website and social media pages.

I will miss everyone here, it was wonderful to see you guys again and for those who I met this time around, it was nice getting to know you. Maybe I’ll come back next season. I love you all.

This entry was posted in Travel.

There Are Two Sides To Every Story

{Disclaimer} I had this as my original post about my experience in Switzerland, I caused a little uproar in the town I was staying with some people. I wasn’t sure whether to keep this or not but I did realize generalizing that all the Swiss are douchebags was not right. The Swiss are wonderful people and I met really sweet Swissys, only some of the Swiss people I’ve met were not very nice.

I was truly upset about taking this down because thats not me. I feel as a travel blogger we are here to write to you about our experiences especially the good and the bad. Travel is not always sunshine and rainbows. Travel is tough and other days its absolutely wonderful.

I felt like me taking this post down was not being true to myself nor to my readers. I feel like I’m not being 100% real with you if I’m not telling you 100% of the story. Also, I did not want to allow a few people who were offended by my post to stop me from writing about my experience. It was my truth, that was what I experienced. If what I said wasn’t true than they wouldn’t be so upset about it.
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Switzerland, a place I was in love with for six years has broken my heart a little bit. I thought about Interlaken everyday for the past six years and I came back, it was great at first but I was not getting treated right at the job I had. They took advantage of the fact that I am not Swiss nor do I speak Swiss German. I do have an EU passport, so its not like I’m just there to get paid under the table and leave. I had a proper working/living permit and wanted to do things the right way.  I thought I would live here for good and travel to and from here.

Between being overworked and mentally strung along, it was both physically and mentally exhausting. Hence why in my other post, I thought about giving up and leaving this place. Which, I honestly should have. But everything happens for a reason.

I don’t understand how some Swiss people can be unfriendly and yet live in this beautiful place. I get that they don’t want their country overrun by tourists but when we are here, the least you can do is try to be friendly.

I couldn’t take my job anymore and no amount of money will keep me at a job that I am not happy at. My happiness means more to me than anything. I woke up one morning so determined to quit that I walked right into work and told my boss, “I’m done.” Its not good for me being unhappy there and not good for his business. I was caught off guard because they later asked me if I could work a shift later that night. I was like what? No, I just quit. Plus I was sick as a dog with bronchitis and did not want to bartend in a club filled with cigarette smoke. They were pissed I didn’t go. It felt like I was not allowed to be sick. I am human, what do you want me to do? Be a robot? So that was the last straw and I felt so relieved to leave that place.

Now I am at a campsite where I was promised a cleaning job for the hostel rooms, I was getting a little concerned when I wasn’t called in for work for a few days. Later I find out that they gave the job to someone else. Well, thanks for telling me. So the lady said, don’t worry we’ll find something for you to do. They said just help clean up the campground and that she’ll have private work for me to do in her home. I assumed that was my job, I went to collect pay at for the time I worked in June and she changed it again saying I was living in my little house for free in exchange for working here for free. Thats not what they originally told me. It wasn’t cool.

So I take this as a sign, Interlaken is not aligned with me anymore. It was rough the second I got here. Yes, I did enjoy it here, I met wonderful people but not to the point where my soul was telling me I have to stay here and actually it was quite the opposite. The people I know here from six years ago tried to convince me to stay but when my soul/intuition tells me its time to go, than its time to go.

I will miss the beauty of this place. The mountains are surreal. I can stare at them for hours and get lost in their essence.

My friend took me on his motorcycle around town.

My friend took me on his motorcycle around town.

Don’t get me wrong, I did have a wonderful time here. I met really cool travelers that I may be friends for life. I met new friends from town who worked at other hostels who were very sweet. I tried things I never did before, like riding a motorcycle, rock climbing, drinking fresh glacier water from the streams, sailing etc. I learned a lot about myself and a stronger connection to myself. The more I resist something, the worse things get. My intuition never steers me in the wrong direction. I knew it wasn’t for me after one month but I held out because I wanted to give it a chance. Some may still even say I didn’t give it enough of a chance since being here in April til now. But I don’t care what they think, they don’t know how strong my soul and intuition is. I know when something is not aligned for me and vice versa.

Am I a bit sad, yes. But I know something better is coming over the horizon. I did not expect to get treated the way I did after knowing some of these people for so long. The first hostel I worked at, I helped managed their Facebook page from home. I promoted it as much as I could from home over the years. I did it truly because I loved the place, I still believed in it. I had a passion for it. And when I come back, thats how they treat me? I never asked for pay, I did it out of love for them and the hostel because I had great memories there. If thats how they repay people who are loyal and passionate about the place, than its no place for me.

Just because I have a bad experience does not mean I am not grateful. I appreciate everyone who helped me get integrated in this town. Especially the first hotel I worked at, they gave me a place to stay when I didn’t have one and a job when there wasn’t really any. I appreciate them for that. It was lovely to catch up with the friends I had from six years ago and the new ones I met. I will miss everyone, I have no ill feelings toward the place or anyone, I’m just a little disappointed.

I met awesome travelers who are going to Cinque Terre in Italy on Sunday. When I took them around town in Interlaken, we made plans to have a little girls trip in Italy. Now that this second job here fell out, I’m done with trying to make it work here. Its time to move on and a little girls trip in Italy is perfect. I will stay there with them for a few days and then head to Rimini where I have a job waiting for me. It won’t be paid for the first month, if they like my work then they will hire me. So things will be a bit tight until then, I had a minor freak out moment but I know everything will be alright. It always does.

I met Briana and Alissa on couch surfing and took them zip lining.

I met Briana and Alissa on couch surfing and took them zip lining.

If you allow your soul to guide you, you are putting all your trust into yourself and the universe that everything will work out. You give up control as to how to fix everything and just let it flow how it’s supposed to. I’m apprehensive as to how this all will work but I know it will.

I’m very excited to start a new adventure in ITALY and to see my new traveling friends. Its going to be an amazing experience in another beautiful place. See you in Italy chicas!! CIAO!

Read what other adventurous activities I did in Interlaken on my other post! 

2 Months Abroad Update!

 

It has been quite a ride already and I can’t believe its been 2, almost coming to 3 months that I’ve been here. For those of you who don’t know, I decided to buy a one way ticket to Switzerland and travel the world. I knew this would be my first stop as I was here in Interlaken six years ago. Most of my friends who I kept in touch with throughout the years are still here, so its been lovely to catch up with everyone and also meet new faces that I have not seen.

Interlaken is quite a place. This is a very social town, everyone goes out together. It feels like one big family. I’m happy to be apart of it. This is what I’m looking for, a sense of community. Everyone is so friendly and curious to know what your story is of how you got here. I’m enjoying getting to know everyone, they all have been very kind.

On the other hand, my first month was not very easy. Transitioning to traveling again after so long was a shock in itself. I hadn’t backpacked in six years, yes I have traveled here and there throughout my studies but I haven’t bought the whole one-way ticket to travel the world. Last time I was here with my cousin, so I had family with me and someone to bounce things off of. I wasn’t afraid of being alone because I don’t mind being alone, I enjoy it actually from time to time but my mind was in denial that I was back here.

It took a while for it all to hit me that, “wow, I did it.”  I knew I was here physically but mentally I couldn’t believe it. I had thought about this place probably everyday for the past six years. It was surreal.

Besides getting used to the fact that I was here, I found work (I work at a hotel) and a place to stay quite fast, which was good but that took some transitioning as well. I did not know the language, the Swiss way of doing things, which brought on bumping heads with some coworkers. Along with that I was sick probably the first month being here, I had a sinus cold at first and got over that but right when I was started to feel good again, I got what felt like a punch in the gut with a bad fever. So a mix of things going on at work and not feeling well, it all was affecting me spiritually and I started to question everything.

“Can I do this?”

“Is the travel life meant for me?”

“Should I go home?”

“I don’t know if I like it here.”

“I don’t know what to do.”

“I’m scared.”

I was struggling with my past and present because last time I was 18 and now I’m 24. Doesn’t seem like much but I’m not that wild party girl backpacker, yes I still like to go out and have a good time but I don’t want to be drunk everyday like I was last time. I’m more spiritually in tune with myself, I just want to meditate, do yoga and have deep life talks with beautiful people all day. A bit different from getting trashed all the time. 

I felt like I was fighting something that I already knew, which brought on anxious thoughts. I spoke with my boss and we had a meeting with everyone at work, all worked out well. I was really glad we had that meeting because it wound up being a miscommunication issue. I felt so relieved and things at work definitely got better. I’m still not sure if this place is meant for me. I don’t know if I’m meant to stay here on a permanent basis and travel around while using this as a home base or if its only temporary/seasonal thing.

More people are back now for the Summer season which jumps off June-ish but really kicks off in July. I’m seeing how this Summer season goes as to what my next move is. The money is decent here but it is expensive to live here. I’ve been doing good with my money so far, barely touched my US account. I try to use cash as much as I can from what I make here.

I also recently just purchased a ticket to fly to Los Angeles, California to see my friend Kyle Cease at his event called Evolving Out Loud. Its a 3 day event but I’ll be flying in the day before, sounds crazy but I’m taking a leap. He has been asking me to come to every event since the first one I went to back in the summer. He is a transformational comedian, its a seminar for spiritual self growth and to realize that anything is possible. I’m in a position where anything can happen and I’m open to it. I have nothing holding me back and I got that gut feeling again like I did last time to leap and go. So I know its my soul telling me to go. At first I wasn’t sure about going because I didn’t want to touch my travel funds, but Kyle told me something that really stuck in my head, “when your leap is bigger than your money, you have a more fulfilling life than everyone else.”

That only validated my feeling even more, so I cannot wait to go. I leave June 26th-29th and then high season starts here in Switzerland, I’ll be back just in time for it.

I’m so glad I did not give up when I felt like giving up. Everything was going wrong, I wasn’t as healthy as I wanted to be, I was uncomfortable, I was completely outside my comfort zone but I stuck through it. My good friend Jack from Highly Conscious Man, called me and told me the best advice, I’m paraphrasing but it was something along the lines of “If you are outside your comfort zone, good stay there! Thats the only way you’ll grow.”

I’m so grateful to have so many supportive friends and family. The sun did come through the clouds and its shining. My energy is back and I’m staying true to myself. So much has happened since I’ve been here and it feels like I’ve been here for a months already. I have completely lost any kind of concept of time or what day it is. I’m lucky to know what time it is. But I am okay with that, I feel present.

This journey will continue. Where will my next stop be? I have no idea. I have a wonderful opportunity to meet with my beautiful friend, Andrea from Adventurous Andrea who is right now flying to Thailand! Thailand has always been a dream place to visit, so thats a very strong possibility. Also, Ryan from Just Chuckin’ It will be back in Italy in June and I really felt inspired to go there.

Namastè

10 Tips To Adjust In A New Country

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1) Be open/flexible

You gotta roll with the punches. You are not in your home country anymore, things will not be how you do them so be open to their way of doing things.

2) Don’t do everything at once 

I try not to do this and wind up doing it every time, I wind up breaking down with a crying spell by the end. Take it easy, pace yourself, you have time to do and see what you have planned or not planned. Just let things happen as they come.
3) Be friendly & smile

Smiling is a universal language and can help you in many ways. It helped me find my way to the train station after I missed the bus by a local woman, she was so nice. It has also helped me meet new friends in the places I’ve stayed. Being friendly also helps wherever you are, especially in hostels. Meet as many people as you can, it only enhances your experience.

4) Keep in touch with family & friends back home

Sometimes its nice to talk to family and friends to hear your language again. It gives you a little comfort of home by hearing what everyone has been up too. When you are having a down day,  talking to a friend or family member can brighten your day.

5) Try to learn the local language

Any effort is deeply appreciate wherever you are. I don’t speak an ounce of German but I’m trying. I also got Rosetta Stone German that I’ve been practicing on. You are a foreigner in their country, the least you can do is try to learn their language.

6) Keep your sleep schedule you had from home

If you go to bed early, then keep it that way. Same for the morning if you wake up early, wake up the same time. It will benefit you greatly from not getting slammed with jetlag after a few days.

7) Exercise

If you were flying on a long flight its good to workout your body from sitting so long. I work out a lot at home, 6 days a week. If you are an avid fitness freak, do not stop your routine. You may need to improvise a few things, I do some morning hikes or a running because its so beautiful here in Switzerland. But I also have workout DVDs that I used from home that I brought with me. Exercise is a great outlet for stressful days and keeps you fit when you are eating different foods you are not used to. 

 

8) Try new things

Whether its food, drinks, activities etc. Do it. It will make you grow and make your experience that much better. I don’t drink much anymore but I had a shot of Appenzeller, which I was told I had to try. I don’t like shots but did it anyway, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Plus I learned a cool story about it, the recipe has been a secret for over 100 years and only 2 family members know the recipe. Hence, you also never know what you could learn from trying something new.

9) Allow yourself to adjust

I was running around and didn’t let myself fully emotionally adjust. I was finally back in a place I wanted to be for 6 years and now I’m back here, it was a mix of emotions. Every day is going to be different, you’ll have good and bad days. Don’t fight any negative emotions, feel it, understand it, be aware of it and let it go.

10) Have fun!

This one is simple. Have fun! Enjoy yourself, this is a new journey and it will take time to learn ways of doing things but you’ll get it eventually. Meet people, get friendly with the locals, learn the language and the rest will fall into place.

 

 

My Home Away From Home

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I was here in Switzerland in 2008 when I was backpacking through Europe and fell in love with Interlaken. I fell in love with waking up to the sight of the Swiss Alps every morning and meeting lovely people all the time. I became really close with the staff of the Funny Farm. It was the best hostel.

The staff made you feel like family especially those who stayed extended periods of time. My cousin and I tried to leave to another city but we missed it too much after being away for 2 days and came back. I kept my friendships with them over the years and now I’m finally back here.

I strongly believe in being a man/woman of your word. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. I said I would be back and I followed through. It may have taken me a while because of school but it was definitely worth the wait. I’m now an Italian citizen, which took about 3-4 years to get too so I can stay here as long as I want without worrying about visas and also find work.

When I was on the plane landing into Zurich, when I saw the landscape below, I started to choke up. I could not believe how beautiful this place is. I feel like I’m still in denial that I’m here when I look how beautiful everything is. I stayed in Zurich with a good friend of mine Levin, who is a well known singer in his area. He’s really talented, it was surreal to see his talent come so effortlessly.

Thank you so much Levin for your generous hospitality, I really appreciate it.

Yesterday,  Levin drove me to Interlaken where I met up with my friend Roger whom I have not seen in 6 years. It was so lovely to see him again. He offered for me to stay here in Brienz until I find some work and a place, which is so sweet of him. I will be heading to Interlaken tomorrow to meet up with some old friends to look around for work.

Brienz is so beautiful, I really enjoyed my time there. I stayed there a few days and then yesterday I came to the hostel to see who was around. Roger made lovely dinners and we caught up on things and had a wonderful time. I really enjoyed hanging out with him again, brought back old/good memories.

Thank you Roge for everything, you truly are a beautiful person with a big heart. It was lovely seeing you again and catching up on lost time.

I came to Interlaken and they remembered me the moment I walked in, it was such a welcoming feeling. They gave me a job and a free flat.  This hostel has a very special place in my heart. The year I was here was the best year they said they ever had and it truly was. I’m not sure if it will ever be like that again but in a way I’m sad but at the same time, I’m glad because only those who were there that year will know that experience. It reminds me a bit of the movie “The Beach”, finding a little paradise with great company. Its great but it always is short lived, but the memories will live on forever.

Now that I’m sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Mattenhoff, drinking a glass of wine as I write this blog, I have many mixed emotions. I’m still adjusting to everything here even though a lot of I remember. Adjusting to being a traveler again, realizing I only bought a one way ticket, not knowing the language but I will learn, being a solo female traveler etc.

I don’t mind being alone at all, but last time I backpacked I had my cousin to talk to and figure things out with. But I’m glad I have friends here, I’m sure once the season starts things will be more lively. I think my mind is still trying to process what I did, buying choosing to travel the world and actually being here in Interlaken again doing it.

I’m happy for sure, my soul feels like it is in the right place. I can’t describe it, its the ambiance of walking into a place 6 years later and welcomed as if you never left. Its quite a feeling. I’m so grateful for the people I have met during my past travels and some new friendships whom I met online and was finally able to hang out with. The key to successful budget travel is to network and make friends. These people have given me more than I could ask for.

Its amazing what faith and trust does for you. Leap and the world will throw you a net. It has been catching me every time I leap. It is a beautiful thing.

For those who want to embark on a similar journey, please do it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be traveling the world, I mean it could be but if its leaving a unhealthy relationship, leaving a shitty job or wanting just more out of life, just do it. You are so important and your happiness should always be number 1. Its time for you to be selfish, that word may have some negative connotation but how can you be happy when you are not doing things for yourself or that you absolutely love. When you do things you love and follow your dreams, you bring goodness to you. You attract beautiful things into your life. You are what you love, not what loves you.

I do not know what will come of this whole experience or how long I will travel for but I do not miss New Jersey at all. Haven’t thought about it actually. I miss my family yes, but they know I’m a free spirit and this makes me happy. I was feeling a bit anxious when I started writing this but after me being honest with you all made me feel at ease.

I just gotta let it be and let things happen as they come. But believe me, I see signs every day from the Universe letting me know that everything will be alright. When you let your soul drive you to where you need to be thats when unbelievable things align for you.

Can’t wait for what comes next.

Be sure to like Funny Farm’s Facebook page, which I manage. :)

If you are coming to Switzerland, come by the Funny Farm!! You won’t regret it.

How I Became An Italian Citizen

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The journey is over and yet it is just beginning. The process of becoming an Italian citizen is finally done. Its been a grueling, frustrating, hair pulling experience to say the least. I am assuming your experience will depend on the consulate you are dealing with but they are all at some level very frustrating to deal with. The Italian Consulate of Newark, New Jersey was probably the worst one ever.

The staff were extremely rude and incompetent, they lied to us many times, stole our documents, lost our documents and never made anything easy to attain this citizenship. Thats why, now, I am very happy and grateful for this. This all means so much to me, I  always had a deep interest in my family history on both sides of my family. My mom is Sicilian and my dad is Argentinian, unfortunately Argentina doesn’t allow dual citizenship. I would have had that too. ;)

In order to start your citizenship process, I’d strongly advise you to be very patient and persistent. It took me about 3-4 years to get this done. This would have gone a lot quicker if the consulate actually did their job and didn’t hold us back so much. But when you want something, you gotta fight for it. My mom, sister and I fought long and hard for our passports. Now I can say, proudly that all three of us are Italian citizens. My brother is next! I can’t wait for him to get it too.

So there are a few options or categories for obtaining Italian citizenship. I’m basing this off of the consulate here in NYC, it may vary from consulate to consulate but primarily it should be the same. I obtained my Italian citizenship through bloodline, or “jure sanguinis”

Category 1: Direct descent: Father born in Italy. Italian citizen at the time of your birth and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship.

Category 2: Direct descent: Mother born in Italy.  Italian citizen at the moment of your birth – occurred after January 1st 1948 – and you never renounced your right to Italian citizenship.

Category 3: Father born in the United States or other Country (except Italy). Your grandfather was Italian at the time of his birth and neither you nor your father ever renounced your right to the Italian Citizenship.

Category 4: Mother born in the United States or other Country (except Italy). Your grandfather was Italian at the time of her birth and neither you, born after Jan. 1st 1948 nor your mother ever renounced your right to the Italian Citizenship.

Category 5: Your direct paternal or maternal ancestors were born in the United States from Italian parents. They never renounced their right to Italian citizenship. (Double check they were not naturalized when they came to the United States).

I am eligible under Category 5. So my great grandfather came to the US but never became a US citizen, therefore his Italian Citizenship was still up for grabs.

Step 1: I had a good friend of mine write a letter in Italian for me asking for my great grandfather’s birth certificate at the Comune in Palermo. My sister and I did not have the exact dates but we had a ball park idea of what the dates were. We did not know if we would receive an answer back or not.

A letter had to be sent along with 3 international coupons. Those were hard to find, I found them at a post office. I had to call around to a few places to find them. Most people had no idea what I was talking about. Oh and make sure you put a self addressed envelope too, the coupons I believe are for the Comune to send the documents back to you.

We received our answer.

Each document in English must be translated into Italian, which is a separate cost, ours was $50 per document. The translator must be an official translator with the consulate you are applying to, they usually have a list of people on their website. The document itself is $25, each document must have an apostille seal from the state you live in, which is another cost $25. Doesn’t sound too bad but it racks up when you have a lot of documents.

*Each document needs to be in “long, certified and original form”. *Make sure you make copies of everything incase things get misplaced. 
*Be prepared to do a lot of driving back and forth to vital statistic offices, translator (ours was in Paramus, NJ a 45 min drive), the consulate etc. 

*Be prepared to do a lot of research on your own, the consulate won’t be much help since they have a lot of applicants. They may tell you some information but a lot of this was trial and error. 

*Prices may be different in your state.

 

I had to link myself back to my great grandfather with documents.

1. My great grandfather’s birth certificate

2. His marriage certificate

3. His death certificate

4. My grandfather’s birth certificate

5. My grandfather’s marriage certificate

6. My grandfather’s death certificate

7. My mom’s birth certificate

8. My mom’s marriage to my dad

9. My birth certificate

10. My mom’s divorce to my dad (Must have no appeal/divorce judgement page)

This is the list of documents for my application. There were more documents regarding my siblings. 

*If your parents were married more than once you will need to get each marriage and divorce record. As each marriage and divorce needs to be registered with Italy.

Make your citizenship appointment early as you can! Sometimes they are a year or two out before you will be seen. I was very lucky, I an original appointment that was in 2015 but I checked the appointment dates online everyday until someone canceled and I found one in October 2012. But as you are getting documents together it may take a long time, so its best to have an appointment already set up.

At the time you present your documents make sure every detail is correct that includes DATES, TIMES, NAMES, SPELLINGS, and everything else. Be super anal about checking documents, double and triple check them because thats another cost to fix documents. We had to do quite a few times and it was 40$ each time, each document. And the wait time to get fixed documents back was about 2 weeks.

At the time of appointment, you must prove your residence with a utility or electricity, license and passport is needed for the consulate to make copies. Also all these documents must be sent to the consulate where you reside, for me I was at Newark but the consulate shutdown and at the last minute I had to go to NYC. So from now on I will go to NYC for any other passport related issues.

And voilà there you have it!

We had a lot of documents because we had to go so far back. It was a lot of money, time and effort spent. It was worth it though! I held a picture of my great grandfather and his wife in a travel locket that I brought with me during the passport appointment, I feel like they were proudly there with me. I started to tear up a little bit when the man started taking my finger prints because I knew I was getting it. Lots of frustrating tears were shed but those happy joyful tears at the end, when I finally had my Italian passport in my hands was surreal. Its finally over and I’m an Italian Citizen. I’m so proud to say that, thank you to my great grandfather Alessandro Gambino. I never had the chance to meet you but you gave me a beautiful gift.

Now my journey continues, I will be flying to Zurich, Switzerland on April 7th. I remember leaving Switzerland in 2008 saying, “I will come back with my Italian passport”.  I am a woman of my word. This feels so great to accomplish another one of my big goals, I will get to see friends I haven’t seen in years and enjoy the beauty of Switzerland. I do not know how long I will be there, I will find work and the rest is up in the air. :)