home, loneliness, belonging
“Why are you doing this project?” – a lot of people asked me.
During the months I spent in Kolding, this was a recurring question, one that I was really pleased to hear because it made me reflect even more deeply on the meaning of my time at Nicolai. I spent months dissecting ideas with my supervisor Jacob just to find the right one. The one that felt necessary.
It all started from a few questions that got stuck in my mind after I left Italy: what does “home” mean? Where is “home” – is it a physical place or a mental state? Where do you breathe more freely? We all want to come home, we all want to feel at home. We all strive for a sense of belonging, of being part of a community. But it is not a given, especially when you’re a foreigner, an outcast.
Svetla: Who is Alice?
Alice: Depending on the day, a good, capable person, or utter trash. Luckily for all of us, today is a good day! I’m a kind, curious, passionate person. I’m from Italy and I’m trying to make a career out of writing. I love books, music, films and podcasts. Oh and pizza. Pizza is just the best. I travel whenever I can because otherwise, everything gets too familiar and boring.
Svetla: A leader or a follower?
Alice: I was raised to be a follower because I am a woman. These categories don’t make any sense to me anymore. We should reshape their meaning. I look forward to the day when people will not be divided into fixed categories created to perpetrate injustices and prejudices.
Svetla: What makes a person beautiful to you?
Alice: A beautiful person to me is kind, emphatic, passionate. A beautiful person knows when it’s time to talk and when it’s time to shut up and listen. A beautiful person is someone you can have a conversation with without feeling judged or lectured. A beautiful person thinks about the meaning of life and despite how dark the future looks, keeps looking for ways to make it brighter.
Svetla: If you could ask advice from any historical figure, who would it be? What would you ask them?
Alice: I would really like to ask my grandparents and great grandparents how did they survive two wars. And to Fëdor Dostoevsky: how the hell did you manage to live with so little income and so many debts? Help me out, man!
Svetla: Would you rather have Batman’s skills, money, equipment, and lifestyle or end crime around the world for Good but be poor and unnoticed?
Alice: If you had asked me a few years back I would probably have chosen the first option. Now the world is so fucked up that my answer is: I would rather be Batwoman.
Svetla: What did you think was cool then, when you were a kid but isn’t cool now?
Alice: So many things. During my emo phase, I thought it was cool to sit on the bus with legs wide open and to put shoes on the sit in front of me. Now, I still sit with legs spread open when I feel like it, but whenever I see someone putting their feet anywhere that’s not the floor on public transport, I think “That’s fuckin’ rude!”
Smoking. I still think it looks cool on some people (sorry), just not on me.
Boy bands. Someone here remembers the Blue? Anyone? I wonder where are they now. Not on my mp3, that’s for sure.
Going back to my emo phase: wearing way too much black eye shadow. I’ve been called “racoonn” more than once. I don’t aspire to look like a raccoon anymore but hey, I don’t judge if you do.
An Australian tv show I don’t remember the name of about a bunch of youngsters playing tennis.
Svetla: What is something that most people learn only after it’s too late?
Alice: There’s a quote by Winston Churchill I read recently that goes like this:
“When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place.”
Svetla: If you had a theme song, What would it be?
Alice: “Dig me out” by Sleater Kinney
Svetla: Why “Zine”?
Alice: Zine is short for “magazine”. It’s a homemade publication released in limited editions. The genre exploded during the 70s punk scene and 90s third-wave feminism when it was used as a platform to give a voice to subcultures and marginalized groups that didn’t have visibility in mainstream publications. Zines are a mean to connect and inform.
When I started to volunteer at Nicolai Kultur, I set up meetings to get to know the cultural life of Kolding. When I spoke to internationals, I noticed a drive – a need – to talk about our common experiences as foreigners, opening up about challenges and struggles. We talked about loneliness, Danish, cultural differences, food, having nothing to do.
Sharing an experience was enough to make us close. We connected. Getting personal felt natural and safe. These zines are just a way to develop and widen these conversations, hoping that they will help someone to feel less alone.