Pizza Talks / Open your mind
Series of conversations with inspiring people. I admire people and their diversity. I love talking with them, opening and broadening my mind for things that I haven’t known before. This is how my idea was born – to make interviews with young people living temporary in Florence. Thanks to the programme “Erasmus” and studying abroad I had an opportunity to meet people from all over the world – I had a chance to learn more about their culture, country and why they decided to go abroad. Of course pizza is our company in these special moments.
I met Maiana on the trip to the Amalfi Coast, that was organised by one of students’ associations, while I was studying in Florence. I met many new faces there, but Maiana from Brasil got my attention the most.
I have noticed her in the evening party. Why? Because she had a very positive attitude, she was dancing and smiling all the time and suddenly I understood that… I really like her.
After a couple of conversations, I noticed that she has a very interesting personality. And I realized again that despite being younger than me, many people (especially foreigners), experienced much more than me: made many more courageous decisions, saw much more countries and continents than me.
What has she learnt from leaving in Italy? What is a brazilian joy of living? What are differences between brazilian and Italian lifestyle? What are her plans for future? Keep reading!
Pizzagirlpatrol: Tell me: why you have decided to study abroad?
Maiana: When I was 14, I went to England to study English for a month. Then I started travelling and visiting some countries around. I went also to Paris, and I felt like England and France are awesome, but much different from my country. It was cold and people were more formal I guess.
When I went to Florence… I felt so like home. I felt in love with this city. It was one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever seen.
On the one hand, it is a big city that has all big stores, important universities and amazing museums. On the other hand, you can go everywhere by walking. There’s a river, amazing nature. You don’t need to stay in traffic jams. Many people ride a bike everywhere.
I have always wanted to live there for a bit. So I put that on my mind and just did it. I decided to combine a lot of things that make me happy, like being in Florence, studying fashion there, travelling and meeting new people.
When you study abroad, you are learning a lot of things hundred times faster. You gonna learn the same things that you can learn at home, like for example getting knowledge about your course, but you gonna learn much more!
You gonna learn a new language and culture, you gonna meet new people, you gonna do the same things that you would be doing anywhere but your final learning experience will be a way bigger. And all these things will come naturally! You don’t need to wait for this. It’s just gonna happen.
Pizzagirlpatrol: You study fashion but why have you chosen this course? When have you decided that you want to study this?
Maiana: There are things that are always with you, since you are born.
I used to draw a lot when I was a kid. I used to draw clothes and I just paid a lot of attention to clothes. I think that expressing myself is something really important for me.
And in general, I’m super fascinated by people. I think that the way people dress is a way to communicate something. It says a lot about people – about their personalities. That’s why I’m interested in fashion – not only because of the clothes but, because they are a representation of people.
I have always loved art. I think that fashion is like art but it’s accessible for all kinds of people in a direct way. Everyone has to choose clothes in the morning and in someway they represent you, they transmit a message, like art. I think it’s the most common way to being touched with art. No matter how old you are, how much money you have, you can express yourself in this way. It’s an affordable way to show who you are. That’s what fascinates me in fashion – people, it’s the way to see people.
Pizzagirlpatrol: Have you been travelling a lot before you went to Italy?
Maiana: When I was little my mother said that we need to know our country well before going to see new countries. According to her, we do get fascinated about other countries, because they are not ours and it’s normal. But sometimes we think that others things are better, because we just don’t know ours well.
So we went travelling around the Brazil. Every year we were choosing different beach, state, city to see. I think we did 5 trips together and each year we went to harder places – because we were getting older.
First trip was to the capital of our state, the second one was to the capital of Brazil, the third one was to Rio de Janeiro, the fourth one was to the South of Brazil and we went there by plane because it was far away.
The last one was was a survival course from my school. We went to the place that was supposed to be a jungle. All “normal” schools have a graduation that is like a really big party but in my school they decided to bring us there.
So we went to the camping, to the center of recreation activities in the jungle. It was our graduation souvenir. But it wasn’t a typical jungle, it was just a place with a lot of trees like a forest. We had some activities to do with snakes. We were learning the sense of direction, how to use our senses in general and much more things that people need to “survive”. It was like the most special trip for me because of all that learning, and connection to the outside world.
Then I went to Chile, just like a tourist. And to Peru to study Spanish. I tried to talk a lot with Peruvian people but I met also many Brazilians and we were talking Portuguese so I didn’t learn Spanish well.
Then I went to Mexico for 2 months to do a volunteer work with AIESEC organisation and then I finally learnt Spanish. My work was taking photos, videos and writing about their cultural activities to showcase tourism.
Being a part of family in another country is a very educational experience. They were the best people I’ve met. They treated me like a family member. They taught me a lot of stuff.
This experience changed my life. I learnt different culture, different values too. I realised that I had plenty of things and I didn’t enjoy them. I also saw that they enjoyed more opportunities. For example, my Mexican “brother” studied art. He was only 17, but every time I saw him, he was drawing or doing sth related to art I did study art but many times I was getting bored and I just started watching Netflix. But he was much different. He was like “oh I am bored, I’m going to paint sth”. One day I took a picture. Then he asked me for that picture and then he just painted it!
My Mexican mother was always taking me to the market. Thanks to her I just realised how much I love this very simple activity, like going to markets. It is amazing. I love all these vibes and people there. It’s a really simple thing that you need to do it daily, but it’s also a way to enjoy the life.
To pick like a fruit or… just to stay there. All these fruits, things have so many differents smells, colors. You hear so many different sounds. A lot of things happen there. You just focus your mind on the current moment.
Then I went to other countries, like Argentina, and some others in South America.
I’ve been also to United States. My mother really wanted to take me to Disneyland because she was there when she was a kid and she told me that everything there is so magical and big.
So we went there when I was 15. And my mother went to Disneyland when she was 6. It was funny because she had a really different idea about what is going to be like. When we arrived, she was very surprised. This time she was older and taller, so things weren’t superhuge anymore. She was just like – “oh it’s so different”.
The other trip was to New York with my father. It was a nice trip too. New York is an amazing place. I would like to come back and spend there more time. It’s huge. I just couldn’t choose what to see because there are so many interesting things… You can live there a lot of lifestyles.
Pizzagirlpatrol: And during your Erasmus which cities/countries have you visited?
Till now I really focused on Italy. But in the summer, my friends from Brazil are coming and we are going to travel the whole August. We are going to Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Romania, Poland and other countries.
I really do want to go to Morocco. I think I will go there in September. But I am not really sure because I have never travelled all the period by myself. I was always going with someone, to meet someone, or went somewhere where was someone to help me. I think that there’s a different culture in Morocco, I saw all these pictures from this country and they fascinate me a lot. There’s a lot of tradition there.
But right now I’m focusing on Italy. I went to Rome, to the trip to the Amalfi Coast with you, to Milan, and I really want to go to Sardinia too. Next week I am going to Barcelona, and after this I want to see small cities around Florence, like Lucca, San Gimignano.
Maybe the amount of cities I’ve been to is not so amazing, but I really want to live the life here. The time is now. I feel like I will still have time to watch other places later. I can always come back.
Because sometimes we are so hungry to see too much things that we don’t explore them enough.
I am learning a lot about myself now. And I have learnt that I am a slow person. I like to do things slowly. I prefer to go everywhere calmly. And if I don’t see all places I wanted, I would be frustrated a bit.
I prefer bigger trips and staying somewhere for a longer period. In this way I can see all restaurants, everything around. This is a kind of trips that I like.
Pizzagirlpatrol: What is the Brazilian culture look like?
Maiana: It’s hard to say about Brazillian culture uniquely because we are a really big country, full of different influences so each state, or city would have different habits, accents, culinary and habits. But there are some stuff that I belive that unite us.
In general, we brazillians normally are supercritical about Brazil, especially past generations. It’s a cultural thing. We always are taught that outside Brazil is better: or in Europe, or in America. For example, people always say: this happened because it’s Brazil, in Europe it will work.
Yes, in Brazil we have a lot of problems, like many countries… I could write a book about them. But we also do have an amazing culture, and something really unique of us that is… a lot of joy. Like a lot of joy. A lot of times.
It’s not that we don’t take things seriously, because sometimes people criticize us because we are always making jokes. But there’s a way to see the good things no matter how much we are screwed, you can always make a joke about it, understanding the bad and good about that.
I’ve just seen an interesting documentary last week. It was about photography. There was an old Brazilian photographer that spent a lot of time photographing misery and pain, and a look of people that were really poor. And despite of that condition those people still smiled, and he couldn’t understand exactly why, so he asked them and they told him that had a lot of joy.
And it’s important to give the sadness and pain the size they actually have. So it’s important to acknowledge the pain – it exists, it hurts, but it’s not everything. It’s just a pain. Our problem is that sometimes we think too much about it, we suffer a lot, but this not gonna help us.
Because has just this size and there are a lot of other great things that we can’t see because we are making sadness bigger than it is.
It’s just a problem that hurts, it’s normal to go and keep thinking about the pain. But that is not what’s gonna heal you. This will make you sad, and being sad is normal, but also being happy, we have to remember that.
So when you have this Brazilian joy, you will think like: okay it hurts, it does. And this is just a one thing that hurts but there are still a lot of different important things. And when you make a joke about this, it’s gonna still hurt you but it’s gonna be better in some kind of way. And we always remember about joy. Really big joy. A lot of times.
Pizzagirlpatrol: What are differences between Brazilian and Italian lifestyle?
Because we are a younger and really huge country, in Brazil we still think that we should work a lot in order to be as developed as Italy, America or different countries. And here, in Italy things are slower, they have breaks to have lunch with family in their houses.
In most of Brazil big cities shops are open for 24 hours all the time. And here, we are in 7th biggest city in Italy and you can’t find many places that are open for 24 hours, just small businesses. You can’t even find huge markets that are open all the time. In Brazil we are working without breaks normally.
And here people have time for much things. They are not in rush. They have many calm moments during the day, like lunch break, like coffee time. Of course, sometimes they are also in rush, like in the morning when you go to the nearest bar, then everybody is crazy.
In Brazil we don’t have culturally time to have a break for lunch with family in most of the jobs. You eat when you have a small break.
In Florence everything is smaller, closer, people go by bike, it’s a really different lifestyle. Italian people have some kind of authorisation to have a lot of pleasure – just look what they are eating, how they are dressing, they have like some kind of authorisation to just be happy with a lot of stuff.
We are happy but… we have like this authorisation too but it’s in the specific time. During the carnaval or the weekend, big parties, holidays (we have a lot of holidays!).
But we don’t authorise ourselves to have so many breaks, like small breaks. We have like 5 days of work, 2 days of weekend, crazy weekend, then 5 days of hard work. Italian people have like work, break time, lunch, coffee time, aperitivo time. It’s more divided. I think it’s more healthy. It’s a more light way to live.
Pizzagirlpatrol: So you work hard but you always remember about this Brazilian joy. It means that Brazilian people don’t complain at all?
Maiana: No, we do complain a lot, it’s really important to stand up for your causes and protest, and fight for our rights. But what I’m saying is that we can do that and have a lot jokes too. I live in the South East of Brazil. It is the same site that Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other big cities. This is the region that is more focused on industry and all this stuff. I think it would be the same like more Milano.
In Florence is different. Here is a really different vibe. Probably we have also this kind of places, maybe in Bahia. That is rich in history and culture, and represent a lot of the Brazilian unique identity. And also people that are living in Florence focus more on small things, that pleasure and joy balanced with work.
Because Brazil is famous from BIG parties when people are drinking a lot. And in Florence, I realised, that you don’t need all these BIG things. Sometimes it’s nice just to have a coffee, break.
In Italy many people are really well dressed, they are wearing high heels, big earings, a lot of make-up, just like Italian people. And this is really amazing, when they just sit on the curbs, where are all these pigeons, cigarette ends around them and they just have a break to enjoy the sun. And this is like amazing moment. Because it’s just the sun. It’s free, it’s everywhere. And it’s a moment. It’s a really simple thing. This kind of things we could appreciate more… If I have to take a lesson from Italy to Brazil.
Brazilian people here are always arranging dinners, to eat and talk. We go to clubs too. But as I said a lot of things are separated. Dinner time – dinner time, party time – party time. Italian people go to have an aperitivo, and then they are drinking in Santa Croce, suddenly arriving in the party.
I noticed Italian people have a lot of care with everything, every corner, tiny tiny corner you watch is beautiful in some way. They design everywhere. So I think this kind of taking care of your surrounding we could also learn.
In Brazil is more industrial in this aspect. We have a lot of nature too, which is great because you don’t need to construct anything. Here everything is older.
In Rio we have this culture – it’s called bossa – every corner is very charming. They say things have bossa. Something they don’t know, but it makes that thing special, something charming, something interesting about that, it’s not something super different, it’s not a super effort.
Brazilian people have also a lot of creativity. For example, some people decided to make a party, surprise birthday party in the public bus, so they did it.
They decided to make a party in the bank because they were celebrating that they won some funds that government had blocked before, and they just took some party stuff and did, as a joke (that if you think about it is also a way to criticise in someway). There is a lot of funny things that we do. It’s just a spirit. There’s an expression that we say, is the brazilian way to do stuff. It sometimes associates to bad things too, but I think that this creativity it’s just an aspect of the joy that is good. We also say that the best of Brazil is the brazilian, wich I totally agree.
Pizzagirlpatrol: You should be also creative to be happy with something. You have a bad situation you should be creative to find a way in which way you could be happy. What do you want to do later, in your future, what are your dreams?
Maiana: I realised in Florence how much I am interested in people, in general. I have always seen that but I didn’t actually knew exactly what I liked. I started to think about it and I realised people do make a difference, in everything. And learning, to me is the best way to become more powerful.
The amount the acknowledge that you have it’s kind of the amount of the power you have. Not power with people, but it’s power in your life, you get more mature, you face things in the most adequate way, you know how to treat yourself, it’s the thing that gives you confidence.
I think that the problem in the world is there are a lot of people who have a power and who don’t. I do wanna share my power and honestly, all the privileges that i had in my life in some way, because I know that is not that common. I think that’s why I am interested in teaching. I don’t know it for sure. But I would like to empower people.
Fashion fascinates me a lot, so if I’m gonna teach something it’s probably related to fashion. I still don’t know how I gonna connect everything. I am thinking of graduating and then doing a master from anthropology. I want to study the behaviour especially. But I don’t wanna lose the visual stimulation of fashion. I think one day it’s all gonna “click”.
In the meantime I need to get more references. Or I can just like start doing and things will just find a way to fix themselves. So right know I am choosing what I like and what I’m interested in and what I could do with that. I really don’t have a final plan. I just know that I think about teaching a lot, about study anthropology, and I really do love photography and fashion.
Writing one year later 🙂
It was really interesting to me, to see all those thoughts from last year and realize how much we change, and so fast in a lot of ways.
My second semester in florence was really special, I started to working in a restaurant as a waitress and focused all my classes in the photography courses. I also made incredible friends that supported me balancing all those activities that time, and they were like a family to me. I also made my first trip solo and unfortunately wasn’t to Morroco like I wanted, but was also amazing, to Belgium and Amsterdam. I think that doing all those stuff made me know myself better, and empower me by knowing that I’m strong enough to accomplish all the stuff I wanted to.
Right now, in the begging of 2019, I look back and envy a bit the feeling of union that I felt in Brazil. I think that on that time of the talk, we were in a difficult political moment in my country, but not as close as we are nowdays, and that is something that we have to talk about it. We have a super conservator militar president, that, on my point of view isn’t respectful with people, specially minorities, and a lot of his politics threaten life, and are inspired by fear, and that is something to worry about. Brazilians are getting more interested in politics and being active on it. I think in a country so big, is a challenge to know where to go to be heard, but we’re trying to make sure that we will be. And I admire ourselves for that.
But, as I said in the last question, I still think that all the things will connect in a bigger way. Things started to be more clear to me about the power of people making those changes, and how I could be part of it. I still want to empower them, and that could be by teaching or working, but I wanna do it in my community. I wanna to protect what we have, and our culture, cause I’m really passionated about it. And by now, I don’t wanna leave Brazil very soon.
Of course I can travel or make trips, but I think that I’m feeling a new fase now, in wich I wanna be home, and take care of my home. I’m so grateful to it. I graduated in my university and made a collection, about the artisian women that work weaving in my birth city and an Italian architect that designed a special church there, and also some of the most importants national buildings.
That work was really special, because, besides helping me to see different ways of living and meeting a lot of special people, it also made me look my birth town in a completely different way. It also had connect a lot of things that were special to me, and I think that this is probably happening with more frequency, wich shows me that somehow I’m in the right track. And, in the end I still remain happy, and trying to focus on that joy!
All photos were taken by Maiana (I did only the first one with pizza). I am so happy I had the opportunity to meet such a wonderful girl! Thanks for this conversation!
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Check the first part of Pizza Talks – my conversation with amazing Turkish girl – Beyza!
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