Italy: the backstory

Ciao a tutti!

Happy 2015! I hope you’re all doing well, I hope your exams were bearable and that you’ve broken your New Year’s resolution to lose 20lbs so you can get back to the business of enjoying your life. As I move to Rome the day after tomorrow (I can’t believe it either), it’s time to start up my blog again! I was really touched by all the positive feedback I got from last term’s posts, especially as this was something I only really set up to amuse myself and keep my family in the loop. That said, most of you aren’t interested in hearing OH MY GOD MY YEAR ABROAD IS THE BEST THING EVER (even though it is) and seem to like best the post where I was hating life and had a room full of ants. Next time I go on a rant, I’ll make sure to clearly mark it in the title so you all know which bits are the most interesting ;)

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What the statue in the library actually represents

Being back at home with my family and friends has been so nice. I only really realised how much I missed everyone when I saw them all again. I’ve been to Ruth’s house for her New Year/21st birthday party, been to the cinema a lot, read a lot of books, drunk a lot of coffee, eaten a lot of nando’s, written a first draft of my French year abroad project and attempted the monopoly pub crawl, making it to a grand total of ten out of twenty six pubs (well, we actually made it to eleven, but the eleventh was full of very drunk and dancing 50-year-olds and wasn’t serving any more).

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Back at my happy place, The Diner

I’m just as excited and nervous for Rome as I was for Montpellier, if not more. I’m panicking about the fact that this time I’m only taking one suitcase instead of two (how will I fit everything in? How!?) and I’m also genuinely quite worried about my level of Italian. If I thought my French was bad when I arrived in Montpellier, my Italian is even worse. At uni I consistently get better marks in Italian than in French, but that’s because the French want their language to be spoken perfectly with no hint of an accent, whereas the Italians are just pleased to hear someone trying.

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The Colosseum

On the other hand, though, this time I’m going to be living with a friend called Martina who is going to speak Italian with me all (ok, most of) the time. We met when we were both working in the same pub in Mayfair, The Rose and Crown, when I was in first year. She’s originally from Tuscany but now lives in Rome and speaks fluent English, and I feel very lucky to be renting her spare room! It will be such a welcome change to be living with a friendly face as opposed to Montpellier where I was effectively living alone (actually who am I kidding, I lived with Ruth). It also means that I’ll be living in a real apartment in a city that I’m already familiar with, having spent two weeks there with Martina two summers ago and a few days there with Matt the summer before that. Not to mention that it’s my favourite city in the world (joint with London) and I’m feeling incredibly Romesick having not visited since summer 2013.

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Martina and Annie in London and Rome <3

So let’s talk about Italy.

What I can tell you about Italy so far from the short time that I’ve spent there is that it is a beautiful country full of generous, happy people, who think of themselves first and foremost as Romans, Sicilians or Florentines etc., and second as Italians, particularly when the Italian football team is doing well in the world cup. This is quite understandable when you consider that Italy has only existed as a nation since 1861 (I knew that A Level history would be useful at some point).

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The Trevi Fountain

The reasons I chose to study Italian are still unclear even to me, but it’s been one of my best decisions yet because I’ve discovered that I’m in love with everything about Italy. I originally wanted to study German but UCL didn’t offer German unless you had an A Level in it, which I didn’t. I looked at the list of languages you could study ab initio and chose Italian, partly because it seemed like a fun (and easy) language to learn and partly because I’m lazy and it was at the top of the list. When I look at my friends who are studying Spanish (the second most common native language in the world, according to Wikipedia), Russian (the language that ‘boasts the world’s second largest repository of scientific and technical literature’, according to Anatoly Karlin) and Arabic (one of the most difficult languages for an native English speaker to learn, according to businessinsider.com), I sometimes feel as though I should have chosen a more useful language. Instead, I chose to study the most beautiful language in the world, Italian (according to the Italians – not necessarily a less reliable source than the others I cited, especially given that businessinsider.com ranks French and Italian as two of the easiest languages to learn because of their ‘closeness to English’ – lol). It may only be the official language of a pitiful total of one country, within which only most of the population understands it and the many dialects are so mutually incomprehensible that a Tuscan needs subtitles to understand a Sicilian film, but it is nonetheless a gorgeous language. It is also inconsistent: one arm is masculine (il braccio) but two arms are feminine (le braccia – oh but you need to use the singular feminine ending even though it’s a plural noun, just because) – but then can you really expect a country as contradictory as Italy, home to not only the Vatican but also the Mafia, to have a language that makes any sense? It’s also a language where intonation is very important: for example, the sentence ‘Il mio papa ha quarantanove anni’ is a very innocent sentence that means, ‘My dad is forty-nine’ but is just two tiny mispronunciations away from meaning ‘My pope has forty-nine arseholes’.

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The Pantheon

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

See you in Rome!

Tanti baci!

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