Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Greetings from Italia!

For starters, the plane ride was horrendous. Before departing, I said "I really hope I don't sit near screaming babies," and what do you think happened? I sat behind and in front of screaming babies. They yelled and cried for the entire nine hours, so I didn't get any sleep and it was the longest flight of my life. I sat next to a really nice woman and this Asian guy traded me seats so I escaped being stuck in the middle and got the aisle seat. The airport was really humid and our charter bus was late, but the ride to Arezzo, which took 3 hours, was absolutely gorgeous. There are hills with houses every where and it reminded me so much of California. I really wish I could post pictures, but the wifi in my apartment is really choppy and flickr wouldn't work, but I'll try at the campus.

As for my apartment, the decor is amazing. It looks so stereotypically Italian, too! There's old fashion furniture everywhere, a glass chandelier, and old italian paintings, books, and tea cups everywhere. Our view is also insane because we're on the highest floor; you can see the churches and the Piazza Grande from my terrace. It feels so homey and I can't believe I'm getting to call it my own for the next four months. My place is also the closest to the train station, bank, and supermarket, which is really convenient. But there are also plenty of downsides. There's no air conditioning and we just happen to be on the highest floor where the heat hits. We were told we'd get fans and we were ecstatic to hear that but of course with my bad luck, they didn't work. Along with that, our shower didn't have any hot water (not that we were actually complaining because it was hot as hell and the cold shower was heaven) and our refrigerator refused to cool down so we had to drink warm water/soda. All of that stacked together on top of jet lag, fatigue, and heat lead to agitation and homesickness (I even got a cold sore, wtf?). Everyone missed the easiness that came with living in America for sure. It definitely taught me a lesson and made me appreciate my family, my house, etc. I missed my family so much, it was really difficult.

So far, I've learned/experienced the following:
  • The food is amazing and relatively cheap no matter where you go. I had a mozzarella, basil, and tomato panini for 2.70 euro today, gelato for 1.80, and a one liter water bottle for 27 cents.
  • Some of the stereotypes are actually real. For example, there was a couple that grabbed each other today, in the middle of the street, and passionately kissed for about 10 minutes. Totally a scene out of a movie! Another example is of the drivers here; they actually are insane and you don't have the right of way because my roommate and I almost got hit by a Vespa yesterday. Another is of the women. Most of them do indeed walk around with designer purses and they strut. Even 14 year olds. We all definitely felt inferior for a few minutes lol. 
  • Electricity is very different; you can't have multiple things plugged in at the same time or it'll blow the fuse box. We were told to wash our clothes with the washing machine at a certain time because if everyone in the building has their washer running at the same time, the electricity will go out. 
  • I've taken four semesters of Italian and I'm still intimidated to speak to people. Ordering food in Italian has been such a challenge. I have to form sentences in my head and it takes quite some time and I'm always nervous I won't understand what someone will say back to me. 
  • A huge percentage of people smoke and there's no rule for smoking in restaurants. I practically choked at the pizza place we were at last night. 
So far, it's been a crazy two days, especially regarding emotions. We were disappointed and agitated the first day and things were the complete opposite today once we got out and took our tour, had dinner at the campus, and explored the town. There's a music and popular dance festival going on right now, a running marathon throughout the town, and a jousting festival is taking place next week where all the neighborhoods of the town compete with each other and then party in the streets after. The town itself is beautiful and the old churches and buildings are breathtaking. I can't wait for classes to start and the heat to die down next week so we can actually enjoy being in our apartment!


Darianne said...

Glad you got there safe and sound. I'm sorry its humid, and you have no fan. I'd die. Seriously. I cant sleep without a fan, any night. Its gonna take some getting used to living over there, but you'll do fine!

Anonymous said...

That screaming baby on the plane would have kept me in a bad mood for a few days! That sucks about the air conditioning, hopefully you get some working fans too. It seems like a culture shock! I'm sure you will get into the swing of things soon :) I love the fact that you are enjoying the food, food makes EVERYTHING better!

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