Ciao a tutti!
I’m here! I’ve arrived for Part 2 of my year abroad, and I’m so happy to be here. Italy is apparently not so happy to see me: despite Martina’s cries of, “You’re so, so welcome here!”, Rome has been decidedly grey since I touched down. There have been some really spectacular storms though.
On Monday, it stopped drizzling just long enough for me to make a mad dash to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain, just to check that my two favourite sites in Rome (and probably the world) were still standing. The Pantheon is as magnificent as ever…
But sadly the Trevi Fountain, which is the most beautiful and perfect sculpture/statue/fountain/building I’ve ever seen in my life, is covered in scaffolding for renovation. The work is supposed to take 18 months (that’s Italian for 4 years) so I have no expectations of seeing it in its full glory while I’m living here. But oh well.
It’s not quite the same
Another thing that has changed since I was last in Rome about a year and a half ago is that they’ve now introduced a special monthly pass metro card that’s made of plastic, not paper (cue excited ‘oooo’s and ‘ahhhh’s). I first tried to get this card from a machine at the metro stop to avoid having to deal with a person who might say something I didn’t understand, which yes, completely defeats the point of being a language student but go easy on me, it was my first day and I was feeling fragile. The machines, however, only gave out paper cards which are still used for every kind of ticket except a monthly pass. The next day, I tried to buy one at the newspaper stand outside the supermarket, but the man there only sold paper tickets as well. I asked where I could get a monthly pass, but he didn’t know. Finally, third time lucky, I asked in a tabaccheria and managed to get hold of my metro card.
Victory is mine
That there is my metro card. What’s that crappy piece of paper? I hear you ask. That would be my receipt. Aren’t you going to throw it away? No, I’m not, because if a ticket inspector shows up to check our passes and tickets, what will he want to see? Not my metro card, because how would he know it’s valid? No, he wants to see the crappy piece of paper that will probably disintegrate within a week to prove that I’ve paid for February. Which sort of defeats the object of a plastic card, don’t you think? Another odd thing about the metro card is you’ll pay 35€ for unlimited bus, metro and tram, but it will run out on the last day of the month no matter when you buy it. If you buy it on the last day of the month, it will cost you 35€ and run out the next day. Some tourists this summer are going to be very confused.
I couldn’t help it
Term doesn’t start until March, but I came a bit early to take an Italian course. Friday’s challenge was finding the room where the test to put us in the right level class would be held. The test involved a bit of grammar, a bit of listening, a reading comprehension and then a chat with one of the teachers. To my utter amazement, I was put in the highest class! My biggest problem with Italian, it turns out, is the same as it was when I arrived in France: my grammar and comprehension is quite good, but my speaking is awful due to a combination of shyness and lack of practice and exposure. But that’s ok, because that’s what I’m here for, and the teacher I was chatting with (who was lovely) said the highest class would be good for me because there’s more of a focus on speaking than in the other classes.
My new home :)
Living with Martina is wonderful for my speaking practice as well. Martina is so sweet and patient when I’m bumbling through my sentences, repeating the same words over and over, mispronouncing everything, mixing up my tenses and generally murdering the Italian language. It’s fun to teach her things about English as well, like all the different meanings of ‘make up’, the meaning of ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’ and the fact that we pronounce ‘wander’ as if it were spelt ‘wonder’ and ‘wonder’ as if it were ‘wunder’. In return, I have an entire page of Italian swear words (and it’s still growing) that I can’t write here because, as Martina explained, some of them are VERY offensive, especially the ones about God being a thief or an animal.
That’s pretty much all for now! Given the rain, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands and so have been doing a lot of cooking and I’m thinking about posting some recipes here so that I can find them easily in the future :) But if you’re interested too, watch this space!
Ciao for now…