“Why would you want to have dual citizenship?” I’ve gotten this question so many times, and every instance I reflect on my decision to embark on a journey that was so very important to me.
I vividly remember the first time I actually lusted after a second passport. I was in grad school in Italy getting my Masters in Fashion, and at the end of my program I was able to do an internship through my school. There were two choices: 1. Complete my internship in a group project directly through my school, or 2. Do an independent internship directly through a company in Italy – which required an EU Passport.
Well we all want what we can’t have right? I remember being so disappointed that I couldn’t go work for Emilio Pucci, or even work in the Gucci offices in Florence. I’m an independent spirit at heart, and one of my only regrets in life is that I didn’t figure out how to get dual citizenship sooner.
*Don’t feel bad for me just yet – I did get to do my group internship for Versace, and got to present to their top executives*
After grad school, I talked my parents into letting me move to England for 3 months (the only “allowable” time frame for someone who does not hold an EU passport). *shout out to my amazing parents who supported my craziest of dreams at that time* I did a PR internship while I was there, and although I loved my experience, London was not for me. I went back to the US, having reverse culture shock, and having such intense emotions around my exposure of life outside of the US.
The process started with a google search. A friend of mine had her British passport, and I knew she wasn’t born there, so I began investigating how you could possibly be privileged enough to have two passports (without having to marry someone). - I come from a smaller town, so while to some this may seem like a no brainer, I was in uncharted territory. – My google search turned into hours, and hours turned into days. I knew I was Italian, and that I had relatives there (I actually got to visit villages in Italy on both sides of my family!)
Here is what I found out:
Here is what I actually needed to compile:
--> All Documents needed to THEN be translated into Italian, and had to have an Apostille (it authenticates signatures on all documents, and is recognized by foreign countries).
FAST FORWARD to my appointment - I was so nervous, because I have heard of instances where you could be denied (I mean they are Italians - I had lived in Italy long enough to know that they do whatever they want) for any reason. Well, I walked in as an American Citizen, and walked out with an Italian Passport in hand!
Getting my second passport was personally important to me. Here are the main reasons why I got a second passport, and why I worked so hard to get it:
I did this for me, and this is enough of a reason. <3
Here are some helpful links if you are looking to get your Italian Dual Citizenship:
San Francisco Italian Consulate: click here
Register for an Appointment: click here
Information on Citizenship: click here
This was a great one stop shop, and explains everything clearly: click here
Have a great week everyone! :)
Here is the second part of the lessons I learned in Brazil, and at the World Cup in 2014. A piece of my heart will always be in Brazil, as the country and people are amongst the most beautiful that I've ever seen or met.
8. Shit Happens
I would describe myself a relaxed soul, typically going with the flow of what life sends my way, but there were definitely times on this trip that I said a couple of prayers. When we arrived to Sao Paulo, we realized we had such a short time to see everything the city had to offer. Based on size and culture, Sao Paulo is equated to New York, while Rio de Janeiro is equivalent to Los Angeles. We mastered the metro in Rio and decided that Sao Paulo would be no different. We jumped in a cab and promptly told him to take us to the metro because we wanted to go to the famous “Mercato”. He told us for 10 Brazilian Reals more he would take us straight to the Mercato, but we told him that we did not have enough money. He said, “I’ll take you to a bank.” What??? At least if we died in that cab we knew we got to go to the World Cup. We agreed, and he pulled up to a grocery store that was not in the best neighborhood. He pointed at a small supermarket. We thought, “Excuse me Sir…is this a joke…this is not the Mercato??” We then realized he said there was a bank inside. We went in (to probably the sketchiest grocery store I have ever been in), and tried to get money out of the ATM machines. Then my card got stuck in the machine. I had money strapped to my bra, so just in case we got robbed of everything I had some of my dignity with me. My friend then had to go into the bank (which was on lock down, with a police officer letting only one person in at a time), and thankfully a woman helped me get my card out. I had never been more grateful for all the “Hail Mary’s” I said that afternoon.
9. Looks Can Be Deceiving
I’m American, and I can anticipate what your money can get you in terms of accommodations: Hotels, Motels, and Holiday Inn’s. Booking accommodations in Rio was something that I did blindly. Everything was expensive, whether it was a hostel or a “hotel”. I even came across a hotel that didn’t have a roof. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like having a heart attack in the middle of the night at the sight of someone jumping over my hotel wall. I had a travel agent book that part of the trip (my OCD self had to just let that go). We arrived at Hotel Itajuba, and judging by the outside it actually looked really decent. We checked in, received our 5 lb. key, and burst into uncontrollable laughter as we opened the door to our room. The size of our room was not luxuriously large (maybe the size of a dog kennel), however our shower was beautiful and could fit about 10 people, and would be within the Fire Marshall’s Compliance until you notice the electrical box in the shower…that could very be the last shower of your life!
10. If You Love Something Let It Go
I was lucky to have not lost anything on this trip. My stuffed duck (Ducky) that travels everywhere with me, credit cards, and my passport were all safe and sound. The friend (Jenny) that I was traveling with was not so lucky. Prior to our trip, Jenny decided to bring a pair of her favorite gladiator sandals with her, but not before gluing the gold embellishment that gave them their distinctive flair back on. We must have walked miles around Rio in a matter of hours. Footwear never stopped the Romans, and it would never stop us. When we took our Samba skills to the street – yes, there was a “block” party by our hotel around 2am – shit got crazy. Suddenly we were learning to line dance, and I had a Mexican man singing the French song “Dominique” to me. Where were we? We met some fans from Orange County that had been in Brazil for a month, going to games and traveling around the country. It was some real inspiring stuff. Back to this life lesson. That night Jenny lost the gold embellishment on her shoe. She realized this the next day and immediately wanted to go search for it. I told her that she has to leave it there, throw away those shoes, and know that we left more than our hearts on the Brazilian streets of Rio that night.
11. Life Isn’t Fair, but It is Still Good
I was first introduced to the Caipirinha four years ago when I was in Italy. This national cocktail of Brazil is lethal and intoxicating at the same time. The merging of Cachaça, sugar, and lime, was enough to make your taste buds do a small party in your mouth. We had gone to the Copacobana beach to watch the Russia vs. Algeria game at the quaintest bar. What had happened next completely shocked me. We were cut off. No more Caipirinha’s for us. Really Brazil? How does this happen, when the veins of the Brazilian people are flowing with Cachaça?? At the point we realized that sometimes life isn’t fair, but we know it is still good because we picked up and moved to the next beach establishment.
12. The Shortest Way to Get Anywhere is to Have Good Company
My advice for an amazing trip is good company. Find someone who travels at the same speed as yourself. Oh, and make sure it’s someone you can put up with and vice versa. This has to be someone that you can drink with, fight with, and run through airports with all in a short amount of time. I would describe it as a Kindred Spirit. This is a person that you can still laugh with at all of your unfortunate situations and still can hold your head high and go with the flow. Oh, and I highly suggest this is someone that you are ok scheduling poop sessions with, because yes it will go there.
13. When In Rome, Do As The Roman’s Do
I will never understand people who will travel to foreign places, only to greet themselves with comforts of home. I believe in self emersion, and trying something at least once. We tried Bacalo, corn vendors on the street, and did the samba until our legs hurt. When you finally reach your destination I would like to say you are in your “Honeymoon” phase. Everything is new, your inhibitions are out the window, and you are ready to do anything and everything. That is until you get back home, check your credit card charges, realize that you consumed about 5 lbs. of sugar from all the Caipirinha’s you drank, and that you might possibly have to take out a small loan to get your stomach pumped so that it returns back to normal.
I am reminiscing of my experience of the World Cup in Brazil, and it makes me extremely excited for my adventures to come in Russia. This time we are going to 3 matches, and we are excited for what awaits us. Let me know if you are going to Russia! :)
As I prepare for the adventures that await me in Russia this year, I wanted to reflect on what I learned in Brazil, and remind myself that I live for experiences like these. I am going to post these in two parts, and I hope you enjoy. And if you are going to Russia, let me know what cities you'll be in. I would love to meet up! :)
Life Lessons I Learned At The World Cup & in Brazil
1. Believe in Love at First Sight
Nothing can describe the feeling of a dream coming to fruition especially when you can visually process it. I had been planning this World Cup trip for two years, and as the months have passed it seemed as if time were slowing down. Walking into the Maracana stadium in Rio was a life changing experience that did bring tears to my eyes (don’t judge, I’m a Scorpio). The scenic backdrop of Rio, the vibrant World Cup signage, and the excitement of the spectators made my heart race. We didn’t care that we weren’t going to get to see our favorite teams, and at that very moment I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. OK, cheeseball status stops…and now you will read about what I really learned on my trip to Brazil…
2. It’s The Little Things That Count
I won’t lie, I was a little nervous to go to Brazil. I knew what my family and co-workers thought of me going there, as well as the media portrayal of what was perceived to be hell on earth. I had mixed emotions, but I am never one to back down from a challenge. We survived two days in Rio before the actual World Cup match we would be attending. June 28th, 2014 finally arrived and my stomach seemed unsettled. As I painted the Columbian flag on my face, strapped on my fanny pack, and ensured that my sneakers were tied tight (in case I needed to run for my life), I was ready for battle. I knew if I could come out of Tomatina alive, this would be nothing. We took the metro (which I can happily say we mastered) and followed the Columbian fans (our people) into the stadium. There were about five checkpoints to get into the stadium. Three of the checkpoints consisted of going through metal barricades, in which we were greeted promptly with the Brazilian police. We then had to show them tickets valid for both of us, and we proceeded through the line. As we moved from barricade to barricade, the lines got shorter, and the more organized everything became. Where was the flying fireballs, or the riots, or the people waiting to steal everything we had on us? We went through metal detectors, and were patted down. This never even happens at an American baseball game. People – don’t believe everything you hear, and don’t live in fear. Those checkpoints made our day, and we were ready to cheer on Columbia!
3. Every So Often Push Your Luck
An old co-worker (that is originally from Brazil) made me a “Must Do” list while I was there. She outlined beaches, historical monuments, and anything that a tourist must do for the two cities that we were going to in Brazil – Rio and Sao Paulo. Underneath each of those cities she had an “If You’re Brave” section. I definitely consider myself a safe and cautious traveler, but I still like a good challenge. Every day I did something on my trip that made me a little nervous. In both cities my friend and I pushed our luck, and I am happy we did. In Rio we experienced the samba nightlight, complete with street vendors selling shots of alcohol on the streets. In Sao Paulo, we experienced a shopping district that was definitely not for the faint of heart. We walked with conviction, and luckily we looked Brazilian. We took candy from someone on the metro ride after Columbia won the World Cup match (yes this is legit), and we are still alive. Sometimes I can be too trusting, but you are a product of your experiences…and life is too short to be boring.
4. Patience is a Virtue
When we partied too hard the first night in Rio (damn you sweet sweet Caipirinahs), little did we know that it would jeopardize our visit to the Cristo the next day. Heads pounding, sweating bullets like we had been in a sauna for hours, we traveled to the bus stop only to be turned away and told that our only shot to see this sacred statue was the next day. We internally panicked, as the next day was our last day in Rio, as well as the World Cup match we would be attending. I started to dry heave. I NEEDED TO SEE THE CRISTO. The woman told us to purchase the tickets online, so we headed back to our hotel to do just that…except when we went to pay it was all in Portuguese. We went downstairs to ask for help, and a boy named Felipe (yes, he was probably about 18) was designated to help us. We went in a little humid computer room, and we fired up their dial up computer. Wonderful. We had 17 minutes before the website timed out, and with a language barrier and Felipe pounding the keys on the keyboard like it would help that poor computer go faster, I could not help but giggle. I do not have a poker face, and he saw me and gave me a thumbs up. Felipe got us those tickets 17 minutes later, and thank goodness because we almost died of a heat stroke in that computer room. PS. The Cristo was worth it.
5. Learn To Dance In The Rain
Or in our case, dance in the streets. After 18 hours of traveling from California to Rio, we arrived at 6am and hit the ground running. That evening we discovered the vibrant nightlife of the Lapa neighborhood, and definitely had our fare share of spirits. Unsure of the exact location of our hotel, we walked in the direction that we believed we lived. As we approached the Carioca Aqueduct on our walk home, we heard faint sounds of brass instruments and drums. We both turned to each other with an evil smile and walked towards the music. What we saw next was so amazing – a live street band had begun to practice. We must have danced for hours. Suddenly we were a part of the group, getting offered water (which I don’t think we deserved) and suddenly dancing in their inner circle. Tourists were reaching their arms taking pictures and videos of the trombones, trumpets, and drums that filled the streets of Lapa that night. There was a man on stilts playing the drums, people with instruments strapped to their body, and smiles on every persons face. No matter where you are, don’t forget to dance – whether it is in the rain, or in the streets of Rio.
6. The Truth Shall Set You Free…unless your lie makes a French man very happy.
I would say that we became chameleons on this trip, transforming ourselves into the nationality of whatever soccer team we would be favoring that particular day. The match I attended was Uruguay vs. Columbia (sadly not Italy like I had wanted), therefore we decided to be Columbian that day. We became Columbian because we do not support biters (Luis Suarez shame on you, maybe you should eat a meal before playing). Anyways, we went all out, sporting the colors of the team and painting the yellow, red, and blue Columbian flag on our faces. We were going to cheer them on with our firey spirits until the end-and it worked…they won! After the match we found a couple with a Columbian flag, and asked to pose with it for a picture. They gave us their flag, and then put their sombreros on us. (Sure, no problem…apparently we do not care about catching lice.) As we were taking our pictures a French man asked if he could take his picture with us. I shook my head, not wanting to answer and tell him we were frauds. He snapped his picture and both of our dreams came true – his picture with a couple of Columbians, and my secret excitement that we were able to seamlessly transition into our surroundings.
7. Pick Your Battles
The second night that we were in Rio we decided to experience more of the nightlife near our hotel, in Lapa. We met people from all over the world – from Sweden, to Australian, to yes even good ol’ Americans (inevitable). The further you walked through Lapa the less tourists were around, and soon enough only the Portuguese tongue was spoken. At one point we sat at a small bar, pulled up a plastic table to the sidewalk, and drank our Caipirinha’s with pure bliss and not a care in the world. While we sat there, we suddenly heard a chanting crowd coming our way. I have witnessed my fair share of protests/riots (ironically a soccer riot in Paris), so of course I wanted to see what exactly was going on. Some may say I’m like a moth drawn to the flame. I prefer to say I’m a butterfly drawn to a flower. I instantaneously popped out of my seat to witness what exactly was making this crowd so passionate…a banner that simply said, “FIFA GO HOME”. Firecrackers were being thrown while people chanted. Part of my stomach dropped, but part of me wanted to join them. I sympathized with the Brazilians and their poverty and struggling economy, while millions of dollars were put into stadiums that would probably never be used again. It was at that moment that I realized I was the enemy because I did purchase tickets. I stepped aside, picked up my caipirinha, and stood with respect as they marched by.
I will share the rest of my "lessons" in the next post. Re-reading these make me SO excited! :)
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.