Mass-email for the 1st month in Italy
by, 01-29-2008 at 01:26 PM (1428 Views)
To figure out why I'm posting this, see the entry below this. Enjoy!
Month no. 1 (sent at the beginning of October)
A bella! (Romana dialect for "hi!")
I was planning to send this on the 5th, that being the day I left and started out on all of this. However, my calendar-reading skills failed me and I didn't realize what day it was. Then I decided to write on the 6th, that being the day I arrived in Italy. I ended up going out with my brother and his friends and not getting back until 3:00 in the morning. The 7th I was out all day at a festival in a nearby town, and now it is the 8th, and I figure this is a perfect day to write, since it is the 1-month anniversary of absolutely nothing but the continuation of my procrastination skills.
Anyways, this should give you an idea of how busy the weekends are here. We have six days of school, so Saturday night is when everybody goes out. 3:00 isn't all that late to get back! But everybody sleeps in until 12 or even 1 or 2:00 the next morning. Sunday is the day for doing homework, although this weekend, there was a big festival in Marino - about 20 minutes by train from Albano Laziale, where I live - called Sacra Dell'Uva. "Uva" means grapes. Therefore it was a rather interesting festival, since you could get a 1.5 liter bottle of wine for just a few euros, and not quite everybody was sober. There are quite a lot of festivals in different provinces each weekend. Italians love to "fare in giro", just walk around and encounter friends, and these are a great place to do it.
Anyways, short history of Italian weekends over - I'm not quite sure what to say to sum up this month. It hasn't been an easy one. It's one of the loneliest things possible not to be able to speak the same language as everyone around you. And Italy from the inside is very different from the country you see as a tourist.
However, I have learned a lot in this time. It's like one of those reality shows where they pull people out of their comfort zones and stick them on a deserted island with nothing but perhaps a knife, and then tell them to survive. I feel very Darwinist right now! And the strange thing is that I think my experience would have changed very little had I gone to another country in the world. There are some things unique to each country, but real differences - language, culture, just having to adapt after being completely uprooted - stay the same. The hardest thing of all here for me is making friends, and that's the most important and possibly difficult thing in any new place.
I'm not quite sure what else to write here, since it's difficult to sum up the most turbulent and just different around-thirty days of my life in a few paragraphs - so, I'll give some basic observations of Rome and Italy in general. First of all, everything is old. Not only the ruins, although those are pretty impressive; I've been into Rome twice so far, and seen the Colosseum, Forum, President and Senate houses, and my personal favorite, the Fontana di Trevi. But even the buildings in which shops are housed have to be at least a couple centuries gone. America seems so young now! Italy really is very pretty. Although, I will never get used to seeing palm trees here. They're everywhere, even though the weather isn't all that much warmer than PA!
A couple other differences are the ages when you can do certain things. Here, there really is no drinking age. (No, I promise I haven't gotten drunk, but I'm having fun trying things out!) You can't drive a car until you're 18, but you can drive a "motorino" - a type of small motorcycle; Vespas are a type of these - when you're just 14. And I don't know what the age is at which you can buy cigarettes, but people who don't smoke are a worryingly rare exception; including teens. I would bet that at least ¾ of the kids in my school are addicted.
Segue into school . . . Italian schools are certainly different from those in America. Besides the extra day, classes end at 2:00 and the kids go home to have lunch. However, although this seems to compensate for the time on Saturday, there is no lunch hour, and no frees, only a 15 minute break halfway through the day. Classes are an hour each. Students always stay in the same rooms, and the teachers change. There are no computers or equipment aside from text books - which many people still don't have - and a blackboard. The teachers simply lecture and the students take notes. Italian ragazzi (boys and girls) can rattle off a lot more information than the average American teen, but there is not so much emphasis on understanding what you're learning. For instance, I'm having to retake Chemistry, since that's what the kids in my class are learning; and except for French, which I'm taking also with the 1st year students, as my class is in their third year, I can't really change subjects. Right now we just finished orbital diagrams and some naming of elements. But the teacher still hasn't given out periodic tables. Since there are no handouts except in Spanish class, who knows if she will!
As for subjects, I'm enrolled in a Liceo Linguistico, which is a language school. I'm taking Chemistry, History, Philosophy (my favorite), Letteratura (Literature - history of Italian poetry and writing; we're also reading Dante, which is pretty cool to do in Italian!), Latin (although I'm not quite sure what's going on with that, since we seem to be learning yet more history and not the language), Algebra 2, English ( ), Spanish (5 hours a week), Art (history), Phys Ed, and French (6 hours a week, since I'm getting French 1 and French 3 at the same time). Whew.
So, things are pretty busy here. I go to a karate class three times a week for two hours each time, and two times a week I have Italian lessons with the other AFS exchange students in the area, who are from America, Thailand, Hong Kong, Bolivia, and Berlin. While I'm not exactly having the time of my life, this is one of the most mind-blowing things I have ever done, and that's pretty valuable in itself.
Love and abbracci,