Interview with Andrea, the italian volunteer from Piacenza

Hi Andrea! Just to start the interview I want you to answer to some simple and elementary questions: who are you, where are you from and where are you going (“it’s a long story” won’t be considered an admissible answer)? Hi Michele! My name is Andrea Praolini Lanza and at the moment I’m an Evs volunteer at the University of Economics-Varna. I’m Italian, I’m 26 years old and I do not have any idea of where I’m going. I know you are Italian like me and a big cinema lover also. In order to introduce yourself in a peculiar way try to describe these first months here and your lifestyle as a volunteer with two titles of film. Do you think Varna would be an interesting background to set cinematographic stories? Do you think the EVS experience could be an interesting subject for a film about the life in foreign countries (I have in my mind “l’Auberge Espagnole”, for example)? If I have to choose I would choose just one film that better represent my first months here in Bulgaria: Underground (Emir Kusturica). Varna is a beautiful city and for sure holds something special in its shape and in its position. The best aspect of shooting a film in Varna it would be probably the variety of environments and styles that Varna offers. The huge Sea Garden, the Black Sea, the lake, the gipsy neighbourhood (really cinematographic space) and so on. Regarding filming an Evs experience, well “l’Auberge Espagnole” was about an Erasmus student abroad and Evs is a kind of similar program, so yes, probably Evs is an experience that could suit for a film.   What kind of plans did bring you in a border place like Bulgaria?  Being on the border is already a plan that comes true. Trying to achieve the edge of Europe fascinated me a lot. I was looking for an experience that could broad my view about the world and about myself. I think, even if just few months are passed and many others have to come, I got until now what I was looking for.  According to your experiences which are the virtual “requisites” and the point in commons among the different volunteers to choose spending the EVS in a place like this?  I’m not sure that common virtual requisites exist in order to join an Evs in a place like Bulgaria. For sure you need to be, in a way, brave or, depending from the volunteer, without any boundaries that keep you home. For the rest, I believe that what counts most is the personal story, every one of us has different approaches to life and actually it’s nice to discover how the other volunteers gathered here. So many random amazing stories! You lived and worked for a couple of years in Scotland. Speak about the most macroscopic differences of lifestyle between your previous experience outside Italy and your actual EVS.  As everyone can guess, Uk is not exactly like Bulgaria. We are speaking about two countries completely different, distant in every aspect. Probably the only thing in common is the drinking culture: there they have great whiskies, here people prefer rakia.  You are working in a project concerning the University of Varna. What do you see as your future choices after the end of your EVS experience and your come back in Italy? Do you wanna carry on improving your student skills or trying something else? What impact have EVS having on your ideas of what you can do with your life? What would you like to be doing in 5 or 10 years from now if things went exactly as you wanted? I hold a bachelor degree in History and I got a Msc in European Politics at the University of Glasgow. Once I’m done here I’m planning to get finally into what I love more: cinema. In addition to my work at the International Relations Office at the University of Varna I’m collaborating with a short film festival in Italy, I’m writing film reviews for an Italian website and, at the same time, I’m supporting the work of a documentary production firm in Italy. As you can see, cinema is already part of my life and my dream is being able to make money out of it, at least enough to live a decent life. I’m still not sure though what will be next, applying for further studies is a possibility. Keeping travelling would be great. We will see. What I can say is that Evs is an experience that gives you the possibility to prove your skills to the others but, most important, to yourself. Evs stretches your mind; it gives you the opportunity to get a different perspective from where you can see the world.     Tell us interesting, funny, weird or awkward stories about your life experiences inside and outside the working environment (this is a dangerous question: please, don’t do names and remember moms are reading us). I could tell to our readers some funny stories about you, but cause here the interviewer is you and I’m the one that is interviewed, I’ll skip this part. I can tell you that one of the weirdest stories is related to the moment when I first got in touch with a native Bulgarian: my neighbour. I was in Bulgaria since few days and I was living temporarily with Dovile, another Evs volunteer, Lithuanian girl, also colleague of mine at the University. We were both on the balcony smoking a cigarette and suddenly from nowhere appeared this old man that started to speak to us in Bulgarian. He seemed kind and he was really keen to communicate with us. Although, either me either Dovile of course couldn’t understand one single word of what he was saying, so we kept smiling at him. I tried to tell him that I am Italian and the only result I got was raising even more his interest in chatting with us. Dovile so tried with her Russian, according to her, really poor. Still nothing seemed making the conversation having any meaning or coming to an end. From nowhere, do not ask me how, I remembered two words in Russian, the colours black and white. Once I pronounce them, the old man suddenly stuck in the middle of his Bulgarian monologue and he stared at us for few seconds smiling. Then he turned and, with a fast movement, he grabbed a cat, which I guess was sleeping peacefully behind him, coming back to us proud of his pet, repeating in Russian “Black and white! Black and white!”. Well, we straight happily realized that the fur of the animal was indeed black and white, and that yes, we had just managed to communicate with a Bulgarian native speaker for the first time. The cat though didn’t look so excited about that.

Funny story and amazing (accidental?) hidden quote about an other Kusturica film! Thank you Andrea, see you around for a couple of magic tricks and fun Matera!