Sunday, September 4, 2011

Settling in

I finally unpacked my suitcase and am pretty much settled in, which is great because the clothes in my suitcase had turned into a giant clothes ball.  Me and my roommate Alyssa (love the names right?) split the drawer space which is minimal.  The size of the drawers are big enough to maybe fit a single folded sweatshirt.  So as you can imagine, I have folded my clothes in tiny squares and squeezed in the essentials.  The rest is under my bed divided between my suitcases which are acting as storage units for now.  I don't know where else to put my clothes-HA!  There is some closet space in the "dining room" to where I might start migrating my clothes.

All the drawers we have...and my shoes ;)

On a different note, in the past three days I have seen 3 different weddings going on in the piazza right down the street from my apartment.  The brides and their grooms walk out to the fountain in the center of the piazza and they take pictures while they're families and the rest of the city stand in awe of them.  All the brides I have seen have the most beautiful dresses.  The first day we were here, the car carrying the newlyweds honked at Alyssa and I as they passed us on our street and the bride and groom waved.  It was adorable!  Tonight, while we were in search of some pizza, another bride was just chilling at the corner of a street with her groom not far behind her.  It was so picturesque!  I wanted a picture so badly so I started to pull out my phone since I didn't have my camera with me but then she started to turn around and her groom came into sight.  I shoved the phone back in my bag-I did NOT want to be the creepy American.  Awkward!


The fountain up close and personal

Today wrapped up orientation where we had a lot of meetings to hear about how things run at Umbra, academics, safety etc.  The Perugia policeman who spoke to us about safety in the city reiterated pretty much was everyone back home was telling me about safety in Italy.  He asked us what sport Italians play and someone answered football (soccer), obviously.  No, the preferred sport of Italian men is "Ladies".  This is exactly what he told us.  I thought it was funny the way he phrased it!  Comforting right? It is true though.  My new friends and I all went out last night for our first real big night out and as we walked into the center everyone's head turned.  They knew we were American.  Some even clapped.  We are easy targets.  As Italian as I am and look, I am walking around with some blondes and some fair-skinned girls.  The cop said that Italian men love American women so much because Italian women are mean.  They will ignore the men and just not engage in their game. Interesting!

Anyway, tomorrow we start our week of intensive Italian class.  We have our language class everyday, all day this week.  The afternoon portion of the class will give us the opportunity to practice and apply what we learn in the classroom out in the city.  We will go out in the streets of Perugia and learn important survival skills for living here.  I can't wait-I think it would be amazing to be somewhat fluent by the end of this semester! 

The language barrier is definitely difficult because Perugia isn't like Rome and Florence where there are so many tourists and there is a high chance that store owners speak English.  Most store owners here speak minimal English so it has been hard to communicate exactly what I want but somehow it's been working.  In some stores, Alyssa and I will try to be all cool and attempt to converse in basic Italian.  We say "Ciao" and point at a pastry and say "Due" or two.  The person working behind the counter often sees right through us and will try to say in broken English what we are trying to say.  My goal by the end of the semester is to be able to converse with these locals on a regular basis. 

Yesterday, however, Alyssa and I went to get our first gelato at a little store right on the piazza.  Alyssa went first and the store owner spoke some English, so when it was my turn to order I said what I wanted in English.  The store owner said in his thick Italian accent, "Ah, you look so Italian!" and I of course told him that I am Italian but I just don't speak it.  I told him I would be learning all semester so that I would be able to come back and talk to him in Italian fairly soon.  He asked me what parts of Italy my family is from and I told him the specifics from where my dad's family is from in the north and where my mom's family is from down south.  He said, "Yes! You look like you are from the South!"  He was the first person to recognize that I am Italian-SO COOL!  Maybe once I can speak Italian, I'll pass as a local-I'm crossing my fingers :)

Well I need to go catch up on some sleep.  The days here feel so long.  Jet lag hasn't been terrible.  I don't think I even really experienced a true jet lag experience.  Yesterday I suppose was the worst because I was so exhausted from traveling and sitting on a plane for 8 hours and a bus for 3 more. 

Happy Labor Day to those back home!


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