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We left the hot weather of Italy on 31th of July and, after 3 hours, we arrived in this cold unknown land. Although we didn’t understand one single word of Russian, we managed to solve some initial problems at the passport checking and we were in. Two weeks in Belarus. 
Me and another Italian girl, Giulia, were assigned to the city of Gomel, the second biggest city of the country, in the south. We arrived there with a 5 hours long trip, by bus. The landscape was so strange for us: there were not cities, nor big villages, just some houses here and there, huge fields, and forests... Forests everywhere! Here, in Italy, whatever you look to, in the background there will be a mountain or a sea, stopping your view; in Belarus no, not at all, there is not a single mountain in all the country. You can be on a road, in a small village or in the huge capital, Minsk, but, in the end, you are inside an enormous forest which covers everything. I felt so lost at first, but after some days I got used to it and started to feel like all those trees where hugging me warmly, despite the cold and unpredictable weather which characterised all our stay.
Actually, everything was really welcoming, starting with the people; even those who couldn’t understand me at all tried to make me feel comfortable in every way possible.

My host family in Gomel gave me everything I needed and, although there wasn’t a teenager in that flat, I really enjoyed my stay; I even played with their 3 years son granddaughter one evening. Maybe that wasn’t ideal as I was really tired because of all the excursions we had each day, but, yeah, that was fun.
Each day had a detailed schedule and, regularly, it used to start with a new boy or girl picking me up from my host family’s house to go somewhere else. In Belarus very few people speak English and most of them are really young: only recently it has been added as a school course, so a translator was extremely necessary. We visited museums, libraries, theatres and a lot of other buildings and there wasn’t a single guide who could speak English. Luckily. 

Luca

I met a lot of interesting and amazing guys of almost my age who helped me understating what is really important to me: everyday life. Of course, history and culture is really interesting, but, museum after museum, it becomes quickly boring, as you start to feel tired; especially if you are surrounded pby older people and you can’t really establish a real link with them. The tragedy of the language was indeed our best salvation. We could ask and tell everything to those other guys: about school, university, hobbies, food and sports; we even played some card games and told each other some strange stories. We spent four days with an amazing girl, Valeria (Валерия), who showed as a lot of cool stuff, from typical restaurants to fancy chocolate shops. She was really kind and funny (she had even participated in the Republican stand up competition). I’ll miss her so much!
After some days in Gomel I moved to an unknow and small village near the border with Ukraine. There was nothing incredible to do there, but I really enjoyed that rural life for those two days, in particular when we visited a summer camp nearby. It was full of children and animators and every one of them was full of energy. They were playing some kind of show with a lot of singing and dancing. It lasted for about two hours and they told us they used to do it every day, each time with different songs and actors.
We spent the last few days in Minsk, the capital of the country and we were all together: Giulia, Martina and me. Actually, we were pretty tired, and we didn’t like too much waking up early into the morning and walking all day long, but that was Minsk and it deserved that. There were so many incredible buildings to see, such as the Opera theatre or the Presidential palace.
The city seems so cold and strict but it’s only an appearance. In fact, there are a lot of “shelters” hidden here and there, where there are a lot of bars and music and you can really enjoy yourself during your, for example, university breaks. It was really cool to discover such places because no one would ever think they exist before seeing them.
Luca1During this two week I’ve been with four different families, meeting a lot of different people, with different jobs and traditions. I had a full immersion in Belorussian culture and I’m really happy of that. I tried every kind of local food and I found it delicious: I like meat and there everything is based on meat cooked in every possible way. I even tried some Italian dish to see how it was and, ehm, it was… just don’t do it!
Despite that, I really enjoyed this journey, especially for the people I met.
I’m Luca, a 20 years old Italian guy who studies computer science in Trento, and that was my experience in Belarus.

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