L’Albergo Italiano

Somehow, since I last left you, I managed to wrangle all of my bags and nerves from San Francisco to Bologna, via Washington DC, Frankfurt, and Milan. In all honesty, the very last leg of the journey was the only part that posed any problems at all. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever had a more pleasant flying experience. This was, embarrassingly enough, largely due in part to the fact that I bought “Twilight” in the airport and read it for the entire plane trip to DC. It’s amazing how fast the hours pass when you’re reading a mindless, yet somehow mesmerizing bestseller.

My layover in Frankfurt afforded me enough time to change terminals and clothes, wash my face and brush my teeth, and sample some perfume at the duty free shop. The hard part was the train station. As I mentioned before, I have a packing problem. In the end, I had one 50 pound backpack, one 70 pound rolling bag, one approximately 20 pound computer bag, and one 10 pound purse. One’s luggage should not outweigh oneself, should one have to haul all of said luggage UP several flights of stairs at a train station without elevators and subsequently maneuver it to the 11th car without any luggage cart. The 11th car is, of course, just before the caboose. It was (and still is) also about 85-90 degrees, with humidity. After this minor nightmare at the end of a surprisingly pleasant trip, everything else has been smooth sailing.

I only had to spend one night in a hotel with an extremely helpful front desk manager before I found my new apartment and new roommate. My apartment is somewhat far from the school, but in a neighborhood that is known for its SAIS community and proximity to points of interest. Besides, this is my excuse to actually, legitimately, relearn how to ride a bike. I know that everyone says that you can’t forget, but I think that they may underestimate my limited coordination.

In addition to somehow finding a really cool Spanish roommate (I really don’t know how I ended up finding someone so nice and interesting), I’ve also been surrounded by a sea of nationalities. Two days ago, I group of us went to a small town outside of Bologna for a music/street performance fair. Among the countries represented in our group were Spain, France, Israel, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, Wales, and finally, America. Not only do I get all of the political discussions I could ever dream of, I also get to hear historical and cultural anecdotes that you just can’t find in travel guide books or on two-week vacations. I find all of the differences completely fascinating.

Today, in fact, I had an in depth conversation with a Frenchmen about why Americans dislike the French and why the French dislike Americans (stereotypically speaking, of course). I might preface this by saying that I initially would not speak French to this guy, guarding my own stereotype (and previous experience) that Parisians (because he’s from Paris), might scoff at my attempts. However, after making way too big a deal about it, I finally started talking. And he said that I spoke well. This may have been to make me feel better after I was so shy, but this is still enough for me. Anyway, after discussing the stereotypes of loud, obese Americans plowing through Paris, destroying things in their wake and the cynical, black-wearing, arrogant French, I felt like we somehow communicated small, misunderstood aspects of our cultures to each other. This may sound boring to some of you, but after several years abroad that has given me a love/hate relationship with my own culture and many an identity crisis, it was exactly what I needed.

The Bologna Center gives us a list with all of the student names and nationalities. 40 countries are represented. 93 students are American, 116 are from other places. I feel so lucky to be able to meet so many new, interesting, motivated, intelligent people with so many different viewpoints. In the past few days, even though I’ve walked so much I can barely feel the soles of my feet and am very nervous about how well I’ll do once the real parts of school begin, I feel happier than I’ve felt in a long time. I am so happy that I decided to do this. What an amazing opportunity.

Plus- Chianti Classico, 5 euro, gorgonzola cheese, 1.70 euro, balsamic vinegar, 1.50 euro and I live in a neighborhood with endless cobblestones, cappuccinos, and a vintage clothing store that sells Chanel and Pucci. Yes, please.

I just really need to learn Italian (and calculus, of course). Ciao!


~ by Emilie on August 25, 2009.

4 Responses to “L’Albergo Italiano”

  1. oh girl, i love you. a mix is heading soon to an e-mail inbox near you, i swear it! i’m so glad i’m gonna be able to keep tabs on what you’re up to again (i put you on my blogroll and my google reader, little lady)

  2. On the differences between the French and the English (Australian in this case, but Americans and British may be somewhat similar), see an interesting discussion of different understandings of rudeness at http://www.abc.net.au/rn/linguafranca/stories/2009/2646479.htm “The meaning of the word ‘rude’, as it is used in English, does not translate into French” … you might need to read the cached version if the site is up for maintenance.

  3. This is so incredibly perfect, isn’t it. You are so not meant to be stuck in Sonoma County — or the PNW, for that matter. Both are simply way too provincial (sorry to anyone who may read this and who may be offended by the sentiment ….) And the finding of differences completely fascinating — how completely Sagittarius rising of you, mixed with a good dose of Gemini sun.

    Oh you are going to have a great time, alrighty. Thanks for letting us all share in your journey(s) and insights.

    PS: Does the proximity of the vintage clothing store mean MORE CLOTHES? 🙂

  4. Wow, I am almost jealous. Scratch that, yeah, I’m jealous. haha I ❤ your mom's comment by the way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: