EVS Blog

Buon appetito!

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When wanting to eat out in a new city, the usual questions of: Where to go? What to have? Do I leave a tip or not? What is the eating-out-etiquette? usually pop-up.

For all of these dilemmas and more, have a look below as we explain our essential DOs and DON’Ts for having a nice meal in downtown Milan.

So here’s what you have to know:

1. Aperitivos in Milan (quite possibly the most useful invention since electricity)

What does it mean? Everyday from 6-10pm, all the bars in Milan have a fixed aperitivo price (from €5-10 euros depending on the bar) which includes any drink from the menu and an all you can eat buffet. Taking into consideration that a normal drink may cost anywhere between €5 euros for a glass of wine or beer and €8 for cocktails, for €10 euros you can have a drink of your choice and leave full of great buffet style food. A real life saver when wanting to eat out cheaply in Milan!

This is a very common thing all over MIlan so either if you go to the Porta Genova area – Navigli – famous for its bars and great aperitivos, or to a small bar near Piazza Loreto or Corso Garibaldi, you will find the same system.

The choice and range of food changes from place to place so it’s useful to scout out the best places to find exactly what you’re looking for. Some of the better bars offer a full buffet including the likes of pasta, paella, mozarella and olives salads, couscous, rice, different types of cheese and prosciuto, fruit and so on, whereas others may just offer small light-bites.

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From our extensive Aperitivo experience in Milan, we recommend:

– Manhattan/Long Island: metro stop Porta Genova, on the Navigli. It boasts an amazing choice of food and alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks for €10. Although at the upper end of the price range it doesn’t disappoint! It’s so good they even opened another bar just a few bars away on the Navigli and both spots are guaranteed to be full every night of the week!

– Pacino Cafe: metro stop Lima. Smaller aperitivo than those offered on the Navigli but very nice, fancy bar with a good choice of food for only €6. A good aperitivo price for the Corso Buenos Aires area.

– Ristorante Sushi 189: Corso di Porta Ticinese. Although not an aperitvo bar, it is an all you can eat Japanese and Chinese restaurant with excellent food and prices with lunch costing €9 and dinner €15. If sushi is what you’re after, this is the place to go!

These are the ones that we tried and adored. Other Milanese opinions can be found in these city guides:

  http://www.milano-low-cost.it/

  http://www.eventiatmilano.it/

  http://milanofree.it/milano/eventi/

2. Eating out: Trattorias, Pizzerias, Restaurants

If you decide to go for the 4 course traditional Italian meal in a regular trattoria or pizzeria, here are some guidelines. One thing that may be useful when you check the menu prices is that besides the price for food and drink, a Coperto/Cover charge is always charged from €2-4 per person.

Besides that, tips are not usual in Italy, so they will not be added to the bill or asked for. From this point of view, Italy is a good option for EVS – no extra spending on tips!

Just be careful, Italians really do have 4 course meals with antipasti, pasta, meat and dessert, followed by coffee and a digestivo. So if you want to go out for a truly Italian meal be prepared to digest them all!

If not you can just choose a pasta or meat dish and this is normally enough for lunch or dinner.

Buon appetito!

Life on a shoestring

Living in Milan, one of Italy’s most expensive cities, can be somewhat of a struggle when you’re a volunteer without a hefty income to keep you afloat… So, as a result we have decided to dedicate some of our blogging to sharing our hard earned secrets for surviving life in a rather extravagant city without all the costs. In short, how to live on a shoestring budget without having to give up everything you love doing.

Just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean you need to lead a small life.

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Do the right thing!

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In the last weekend of March, the fair Fa’ La Cosa Giusta!was held in the huge exhibition space at Fiera Milano City and Casa per la Pace had a stall promoting the organisation (as you can see!) The fair, so called ‘Do the right thing!’, is an annual event that centres around consumption and sustainable living with the aim of raising public awareness on the issues of immigration, poverty, the coexistence of different cultures and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles. 

There were hundreds of different stalls all promoting various causes which all centred around these core values. For example, there was a huge variety of sustainable food and drink stalls where you could sample, purchase and even learn how to cook different products. We definitely made the most of the free samples – the ice cream in particular was very good!

There were also lots of different events going on throughout the weekend for all ages. Casa Pace was involved in organising theatrical and recycling workshops and as EVS volunteers we also presented EVS; what EVS is, how individuals can get involved and how Casa Pace can act as a sending organisation.

The weekend was a lot of fun to help with and it was a good way to discover different things that are happening in Milan. As an organisation it’s great for promotion and creating contacts and connections with individuals and other organisations. Although for visitors it costs to attend the fair, if you are interested in the topics the fair promotes I would recommend going in the future to see what it’s all about!

Fancy Dress Afro-Peruvian Dinner

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On Saturday 1st March Casa per la Pace, in cooperation with an Afro-Peruvian group who use our office for dance classes, organised a fancy dress Afro-Peruvian dinner with traditional Peruvian dancing, drama and music.As you can imagine with any masquerade event, much hilarity ensued with a great range of costumes and masks being worn. My personal favourite was Casa per la Pace’s President wearing a crocodile hat and multicoloured cape! The event was open to anyone and a good number came (although not all in fancy dress!)

 We spent the previous days cooking, preparing the food and arranging the venue. For a small cost we provided an aperitivo and drinks, including a lot of Sangria, and it was a very sociable event with everyone eating and talking together. It was a great opportunity to meet new people of all ages in a relaxed atmosphere. Throughout the evening there were different theatrical contributions presented by children and adults on the theme of Afro-Peruvian culture and very quickly everyone joined in with the frivolity and dancing.

It was an hilarious event with great food, entertainment and company.

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EVS Training in Rome

At the beginning of every EVS project, all volunteers are invited to attend a week-long ‘on-arrival training’ in the country they are volunteering for. Took Our training place just outside Rome and Brought together over 30 volunteers coming from all over Italy . We were a great mix of people with volunteers coming from Both Europe and Africa to volunteer in Italy.

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The aim of the training was to inform us of all the relavant information we need to know about EVS, to introduce us to Italy and Italian cultures, to help us get to know each other in order to build a network of volunteers Throughout Italy and to Ensure a support structure is in place for us.

The training was divided into two parts: the mornings were dedicated to an Italian language course where we were split into two groups, a basic and an advanced group,-depending on the volunteers’ previous knowledge.

The afternoon sessions were built around the EVS experience and intercultural learning. We discussed our motivation for volunteering, what we hoped to Achieve, Whether our experiences were currently living up to our expectations and our rights and duties as EVS volunteers. We also focused on intercultural awareness Regarding social and cultural norms, stereotypes and discrimination. All the tasks were split up into different interactive games and workshops so we had fun while learning.We did everything from singing karaoke, taking part in quizzes, learning traditional dances, watching films and creating presentations.

A highlight of the training was definitely the day trip to Rome where we had a day off from our usual activities and we were able to be tourists in Italy’s capital. We enjoyed walking around the city in the sun, eating ice-cream and taking into all the sights.

The training was helpful on Both a professional and personal level as it equipped us with all the information we need to know to start our EVS projects and it was a great opportunity to meet new people, share our experiences with each other and make friendships with people from all over Italy.

Scambio in lingua to discover Milan

One of the first tasks we have been involved in as volunteers for Casa per la Pace has been toorganise a Language Exchange or Scambio Linguistico. A language exchange is quite simply a social event for people who want to practice or learn a foreign language. We decided to do our language exchange in the form of an interactive walking tour of Milan.

Our exchange was between Italian and English so it mainly attracted those who wanted to improve these languages but it was open to anyone and everyone was welcome. The idea is to get everyone talking and communicating in the language they wish to practice so we organised some games for everyone to get to know each other and to hopefully improve their language skills as well.

 To break the ice we gave everyone a list of people to find, for example; someone who spoke more than 3 languages, someone who knew a famous person or someone who had lived in Africa. The list was half in English and half in Italian and everyone was encouraged to only communicate in the language they wanted to practice. We gave everyone the challenge of checking off everything on the list.

For each of the locations we visited on our tour we explained different stories, legends and superstitions about the places in both English and Italian. Our inspiration for the stories came fromthis blog  which has lots of interesting, unknown facts about some of Milan’s most notable places. The pictures used here are also taken from the blog. During the tour we also played some games, including a photo competition and scavenger hunt.

Even though the weather was not on our side, lots of people (far more than we expected!) braved the cold, wet weather and joined us for the exchange. There were people from lots of different countries, so it was a great opportunity to practice different languages and get to know new people.

The tour finished at the pizzeria Magolfa  where we all enjoyed cheap and very good pizza together. Even though we had only booked the restaurant for 20 of us, they happily accommodated the extra numbers and we were able to stay there, talking in both English and Italian for the rest of the night!

My name is Bartek

Bartek-300x221My story was much simpler than Rachel’s. I came to Italy a year ago and I was helping Casa per la Pace occasionally when they needed a hand with something. I could do so, because I was working from home as a freelancing computer programmer. Apparently they liked me so much, that they decided to invite me to be their official EVS volunteer. I didn’t have to look for a project in the Internet databases and they helped me with all the paperwork. All I had to do was fill a couple of forms and then talk to asending organizationback in Poland.

All of the people I was in contact with were extremely nice and helpful. I know I’ve been lucky to find a project this way and then to have everything done for me so fast.

But let’s go a step back for a moment. I haven’t even introduced myself. My name is Bartek, I’m Polish and I come from a beautiful city of Poznań .

I usually work with computers, creating websites and writing mobile apps. I guess at some point I decided that I was becoming too nerdy and that I needed more contact with people. I wanted to get more from my life before I finally get consumed by the world of career. It was almost the last call to apply for the EVS program, since I’ll be 29 this summer and they only let you do it until you are 30. I hope the whole experience will give me beautiful memories and new thoughts on many issues. I plan to travel as much as I can, as far as my pocket money will allow it. I want to learn new skills, not necessarily employing any digital devices. Finally, I’d love to get to know interesting people who don’t necessarily have 9 to 5 jobs, but rather do what they believe in. Will I be successful? – the future will show.

I’m Rachel

Rachel-300x300Hi!

So to start with the boring but essential stuff… I’m an English volunteer from Bristol, England and have just started volunteering for Casa per la Pace in Milan through the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Hopefully this blog will be helpful if you are interested in doing EVS and want to know what it is actually like to volunteer abroad.

So what is EVS? You can find out lots of information here(where it is explained much better than I ever could).

Deciding on what sort of project you want to do, where you want to volunteer and applying for the project can all take a long time and is quite time consuming. It took me some time (and many cups of tea) to understand how it all works and to apply for the project. I wrote A LOT of different emails to a lot of different organisations asking if they were looking for EVS volunteers. Most of my emails were left without any response and some organisations replied that they weren’t looking for a volunteer at that particular time. So my advice would be

if you want to volunteer with EVS you should start planning in advance (up to a year ahead of when you want to start your project) and most importantly don’t give up! It is also important to remember that you will be living and working on your chosen project for up to a year so while it may be tempting to go for the first project that is available, it is essential that you are both interested in the project and also where the project is. It wouldn’t be much fun to find yourself in the middle of Bulgaria working on a project for the protection of cats (unless of course that’s what you want to be doing!)

Eventually I found Casa per la Pace on the EVS database and emailed them in November asking if they were looking for any EVS volunteers. As a complete coincidence their EVS volunteer from England had just dropped out so they were looking for an English replacement to start in January. I applied for the project, was accepted, and as they say the rest is history!

Although unfortunately things are never quite that simple and there were a few holdups on the way as we had to wait to find out if the funding for the project had been approved. On New Years Eve we found out the funding had been accepted (a good start to the new year!) and 2 very busy weeks later I found myself sat on a plane to Milan, ready to start my Italian adventure!

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