1. Settling In

    The past several weeks in Bologna have been filled with attending class three and a half hours every weekday and then some orientation programming; walking around, window shopping, and dining with my fellow American students; exploring on my own; getting to meet and know my roommates (Sara, Lucia, Danielle and Lesa), more of those “fare una passagiatta”s (English translation: taking a stroll, but that sounds sappier); going out on weekends to the packed Piazza Verdi area and having lots and lots of Italian smalltalk. I guess that begins to describe the bulk of my daily activities. I feel busy, busy, busy (a day full of sitting in parks and finding the self-proclaimed “best” galateria in any given Bologna neighborhood? Exhausting) and I expect to get much more so this week and next as our real schedule of classes at E.C.Co and Universita di Bologna begin.

    My Friday: I left my appartment at 9 in the morning our final “intensive Italian” exam and returned, backpack still on, at 3am! The exam brought the end to “Intensive Italian” with my class, named “La Sole” in the Leccese-August days and “La Grassa” (yup: the fat ones) in the Bologna era. After class our teacher, Barbara, planned for the Grassa’s trip to the oldest osteria in Bologna. We went with portare-via wrapped paninis in hand and sat at the taverns wooden benches, chin-chinning to glasses of house wine and apologizing in advance to her for butchering the Italian language in our final exam compositions (verbatim: “we made up a lot of words…”). It was still only about 2pm, and after a while we hazily made our way outside, parting ways with what was probably my last Italian-grammar class I’ll ever take. From here on out, I’ll be taking “real” classes, just in Italian. Not quite sure if I’m ready! After that, I window and vintage shopped around town with Lucy and Lilly and later met Evie and Ana Clare to go to Bologna’s Botannical Garden. We walked around, sat in a sunshiney spot of grass and listened to dogs barking, kids laughing and a shirtless man playing accordian nearby and then headed back into the center through an area of Bologna we had never seen before. We stopped at the famous Sorbeteria where I got the best gelato I’ve had in Italy so far, and then got apperitivi at an outdoor cafe right near Piazza Maggiore. I had dinner plans that evening with a friend-of-a-family-friend, an Italian gal studying at the university named Francesca, so I hung around the center until biking down to her appartment at 8:30pm. I met her and her friends, who were lovely and eager to practice their English, which I’ll admit was much better than my Italian and the night’s language of choice. We sat at wooden benches around a table at Osteria La Tigre. The girls live in Bologna with their families, know eachother from high school and translated for me the menu specials, the origins of their nicknames for one another and what Cesare Cremonini, the famous Italian singer who also owned the restuarant, was saying when he popped into the place and sat at an adjacent table half-way through the night. We tried to hide our excitement and changed conversation topics, focusing on the nutella parties the girls have every 2 months (watch movies, eat chocolate); how happy (Italian) food makes us and what regional specialities I must try; the drab of Italian music (expect for Cremonini’s) compared to American; and the difficolties of coming of age in Italy (internal unemployment, the pressure of career decisions, the decision to move abroad) and of Italian men (either Latin Lovers or In Love With Themselves). As true Italians, we stayed there talking and didn’t pay the check until midnight. We then ventured down to Piazza Verdi and the bars in the surrounding area. At the “Irish Pub,” which is becoming a regular spot, I met some more of her friends and some of my American friends. After a while, Evie and I began dreaded 3am, 25-minute walk back to the Ghigi appartments. We were some of the earliest in the pack to leave, which leaves me to wonder if my body can keep up with the Italian up-all-night way… but I’m trying.

    So that was my super busy, very Bolognese Friday. I hope I’ve described some sense of what living for a day in this city is like, and I look forward to describing more of my living-abroad-perspectives without giving an hourly rundown of each day.

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