Do not let social networks destroy your social skills

You see them every day. People at restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, or even private parties, constantly looking at their mobiles… Rather than living their lives, they are validating their lives on social networks. They share their current location, tag their friends, upload pictures of their meals (rigorously altered with some cheap filter), and, since they are already on it, answer messages and leave likes and comments here and there. You name it. All this when they could mingle with the people around them.

Seriously, folks, social networks are are destroying your social skills. Do not let them win. Tonight, turn off your mobile. Spend a night out with the people you really love, talk to them, laugh with them, exchange positive vibes in a way that is possible in the real world only. That is socialising. The rest is just a surrogate of it.

The big 3-0

Yesterday the universe had plenty of happenings: a winter solstice, a total lunar eclipse, the darkest night in 400 years, and, last but not least, the last day of my twenties. Yes, it had to happen: I turned 30 today. “What is important is to be young at heart”, some might say… Bullshit! I honestly hate this big 3-0 and all the social expectations that it implies. Anyway, entering a new decade always triggers some self-reflection. I have looked back at the last ten years of my life, and, inspired by the novel Caos calmo, I have written down some of the things I have done during these years:

Countries visited

United Kingdom

Mountains climbed

Fløyen (400m)
Ulriken (640m)
Rundemanen (560m)
Sandviksfjellet (417m)
Lyderhorn (396m)
Damsgårdsfjellet (350m)
Løvstakken (477m)
Corno grande (2912m)
Preikestolen (604m)
Kjerag (1110m)

Airlines taken

Estonian Air

Laptops owned

Sony Vaio PCG-FX801
Toshiba Satellite A100-703
ASUS Eee PC 1101HA
Dell Latitude E6500

Mobiles owned

Nokia 5110
Nokia 6110
Nokia 7110
SonyEriccsson Z1010
Siemens MT50
Siemens C55
SonyEricsson K610i
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic

Camera owned

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P72
Canon EOS 350D
Olympus μ 1030 SW

Cars owned

Škoda Fabia 1.9TDI (2001 ed.)

Motorcycles owned

Yamaha FZR600 (1994 ed.)

There are many other things I could write down. All in all, I have been lucky to have had so many opportunities. I am curious to see how these lists will look like in ten years time…

Earthquake in L’Aquila

I would like to answer all the messages I have received asking whether my family and friends were involved in the earthquake in L’Aquila. Thanks everyone for the interest!

My family lives in Tortoreto, which is a small town on the Adriatic coast, about 100 km far from the epicentre of the earthquake. My parents were only woken up by the vibrations and spent the rest of the night in their caravan, but the distance was enough to avoid any damage there.

Many of my friends who live in L’Aquila, however, are without a roof now: the lucky ones are sleeping at some relatives or in hotels, the unlucky ones are sleeping in tents. At least all of them seem to be in good health and relatively confident about the future.

What makes me sad is to see the city where I studied for six years transformed into a sort of city of ghosts. I am sincerely sorry for all the victims of the earthquake. But I know that people from L’Aquila are strong, and I am sure they will manage to recover from this disaster.


This year for the first time I had to apply for 20 days vacations… It made me realise even more that I am a full-time worker now. 🙂

Planning my vacations was not easy. I wanted to go home in Italy, but at the same time, I wanted some action somewhere else in the world… And I had to make it fit with some deadlines at the University. The final choice was the following: Italia at the end of June, and Россия—it just means Russia, but I could not resist writing it in Cyrillic :)—at the end of July.

A journey to Italy always gives me a mixture of contradictory feelings. On the one hand, it is pleasant to come back to my home-sweet-home after a long while: family, friends, sun, sea, tasty food, good wine. On the other hand, the short-sighted culture of many Italians makes me pissed off every time I clash with it.

My hometown is not that big, and I did not do that much there except sunbathing and swimming. But at least one day I was brave enough to hike the Gran Sasso mountain up to the top (2912m). This was the most exciting moment of my vacation in Italy, and I have to thank Antonio for being my guide.

If the first vacation was calm and relaxing, the next one was thrilling and exhausting. I visited St. Petersburg and Moscow, together with Diego and Federico, probably the best—or the worst depending on the point of view—travelling companions I could ask for. One year ago, Diego told me that Russia changed his life, and now I can say the same. It was probably the best trip I have ever had. Well done guys!

St. Petersburg is a lovely old-fashion city, similar to other Eastern European capital, but still with a Soviet touch. Full of art, it was a good place to practice photography. Moscow is metropolitan and dynamic, somehow too big for my taste, but magnificent. Exhilarating nightlife, even though we had only a couple of chances to experience it. It is hard to compare these two cities, they are considerably different, but I was fascinated by both.

I was surprised by this country and by its people. Russians, especially Russian women, were incredibly charming. One thing I noticed is that Russian women dress up on more occasions than many European women do. Even to go for a casual walk, a Russian woman could wear high heels and feminine dress. A hardcore feminist might have the wrong impression that women do this because they are objectified, but Russian women themselves explained it this way: “We only live once; I want to look and feel at my best”. I could not agree more. 😉 Another thing I realised is that all the stereotypes I had heard about criminality in Russia were mostly exaggerated. I never felt in danger during the trip, not even in the outskirts of St. Petersburg and Moscow.

What else can I say? I will probably be back in Russia one day, hopefully soon! I uploaded pictures from my trips. Check my Flickr photostream, and do not forget to leave comments!

До свидания.

Changes, changes, changes…

It has been about five months since I moved to Norway, and I can say that “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”

Well, let’s start with my social life. My goal of having a network of (mainly) local friends has been a partial failure yet. People here seem to need more time to get confident with someone, although girls appear to be more open than guys. Of course, this may very well be just because an Italian man can be quite exotic to them, as my local friend Mikal pointed out many times. 🙂 I still feel confident about the future though, especially once I will be able to speak Norwegian fluently.

In the end, I managed to create a little network of international friends around me. Lovely persons, who helped me in the difficult moments and who gave me a lot of good memories. My special thanks go to Mikal, Federico, Silje, Petra, Sonia, Valentin, Enrichetto, Diego, Fabio, and Regine, (merely ordered by who I met first) for all the moments shared together.

I finally started studying Norwegian. Here the approach with the local languages is completely different from what I am used to having in Italy. There are two official standards of written Norwegian: Bokmål, which is the one I study (literally “book language”, used by 85% of the population) and Nynorsk (literally “new Norwegian”, used by 15% of the population). On the contrary, there is no officially sanctioned standard of spoken Norwegian. My course is a 48-hour intensive course, and I although my Norwegian skills improved considerably, it is still impossible to jump into a conversation for me. I am mainly trained to listen to the spoken dialect of Oslo (or urban upper class Eastern Norwegian, as someone would call it), but in real life, Norwegians use to speak their dialect with each other, and the differences can be significant. You can imagine how challenging this can be for someone who is only at the beginning of the learning process. Anyway, I will continue with an intermediate course the next year, not only because I want to improve my skills but also because I have to be ready to speak Norwegian fluently as soon as possible.

The reason is that another big change is going to happen again in my life. I was a bit unsatisfied with my work lately, so I decided to come back to my original plan of continuing my studies. Becoming a researcher has been one of my biggest ambitions, so I applied for a PhD research fellowship position at the University of Bergen, and I got it. The position consists of three years of research and one year of teaching, meaning that I will live in Bergen for a long while. I will start in January, and I will probably be travelling several times to conference and spending months abroad as visiting researcher, hopefully in some sunny, warm place where I will be able to charge my batteries. 😉 I will do research in the field of model-driven engineering, under the supervision of Uwe Wolter and Khalid A. Mughal. It was a difficult choice, but I feel it was the best for my life, and I am looking forward to starting this new experience.

That’s all at the moment. Please, keep the finger crossed for me once more. 🙂

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