Wow - i have nearly done a whole month in Italy and its gone so fast.I thought i might as well carry on this blog, not only so you all can have an idea about whats going on out here but so i can record whats happened etc and remember it all.
Well what can i say about Pisa and Italy.I am now loving out here and have made some really good friends, all Erasmus students, hopefully more Italians soon once all my courses have started.To begin with, as some of you know, it wasn't as great as i was expecting.I have been wanting to come out to Italy for my year abroad ever since Lower 6th when i decided to do Italian- envisaging this amazing year of pizza, pasta, ice cream and coffee. When i started panicking back in September about start dates and organisation etc of the year, not wanting to miss out on the beginning and all that, i decided to come over briefly to check out where i would be living for the next year. Pisa is a lovely, typically Italian little town, with of course it most famous monument the leaning tower.Well this is a HUGE tourist attraction, and by the end of the year, i don't think i will ever want to see another German, American or any other form of tourist again, trying to take the same kind of photo, propping/ pushing the tower.The duomo next to it however is massive and extremely beautiful inside.The scuola normale, the university i am at, has its main building which is an old medici palace, which is quite spectacular and i don't feel important enough to be having lessons in there!The students at the normale are weird though!I think this is what freaked me out a lot, aprt from there being hardly anyone around as term hadn't started.I was confronted with a whole dinning room full of spotty, skinny, geeky, glasses wearing students, that seem to have not seen the sun for the last decade!Everyone either already had there own select little group or sat by themselves, seeming not to want to talk to anyone else.So 2 nights of this, luckily the other English , sorry welsh guy from leeds was here to keep me company and to show me about etc.From what i have experienced now, there is just more of them and practically all exactly the same, apart from a few 'normal' ones.For example, i went to bed last night at around 12am and all i could hear was the guy next door speaking to someone on the phone (the only reason i could tell this as there was intermittent speaking) making cat/miaowing noises. And it wasn't just one miow, it sounded like he was experimenting with all the difffert types relating to the moods of a cat, a normal one, complaining, angry etc- those of you who have cats will understand! It can't get much weirder than that !
The scuola itself in terms of organisation is unbelievable- i arrived and everything seemed to be ok, apart from the Erasmus coordinator not knowing when the term started and she phoned my faculty, who had still yet to put up the modules and they said oh yes they would be doing it soonish, and she replied, but its already September, when are they going to start teaching- December?! I asked when i should be back and Elisavbetta said, i don't know, so i said, the 22ndish of September adn she said that would be fine.Its turns out that most of them will be finally out here on the 15th of October- its absolutely ridiculous and barmey!! Anyway, alone-ish and not a very welcoming start to pisa, i returned home seriously pessimistic about the year ahead.When i came back to ask about dates, elsiabetta said- oh i dontknow, around then- go and ask lucia.Lucia said i don't deal with teaching dates, go and ask elisabetta- so you can imagine what i have got to deal with!!
Returning again was quite difficult as i knew no one as Jon the welsh was away and slightly intimidated about going to introduce myself to Italians and trying to contrsuct scentences etc was far too daunting.However, Jon and i then met ben- standing out like a sore thumb in his Guinness irish rugby top!The next day i had an Italian grammar test, which really is not my thing, i hate grammar with a passion!However, i got to meet a number of Erasmus students there, from an English and Irish girl, some French, germans and Spanish!The next day there was an Erasmus meeting where i got tlaking more to the irish girl who is friends with a load of germans and we decided to all cook together before going to the first 'erasmus party' here. The night life here is odd, loads of bars, 1 club adn everyone congregates either int he piazza's or streets, drinking, not drinking, chatting and eating. All very relaxed and there are so many students.The other university here has 50,000 students, with a total town population of 90,000.There is also another scuola, linked to mine, just different faculties- which according to a student i have met is more 'normal' than the one i'm at.
My modules last week were finally posted up, as last years modules were still up until then and i had no idea when anything was going to start!Well, it was slightly more definite than it was before.My French that i wish to continue with was not there, another module was 'da definire'- basically they'll let us know, so there was in fact only 1 module that has scheduled classes and a start date- the 9th of November.The main problem with the courses this year, or rather the proffessors, is due to dear Signore Berlusconi.He has just passed a law saying (or what i gathered from Elisabetta) that no one over the age of 70 is allowed to work (with him being exempted of course!).So this means a number of lectures may have to quit- or rather they are going to go kicking and screaming, or not officially work as it is what they live for!
The food is something else that i have to comment on- pizza, pasta and oice cream.The cafe culture, everyone have their espressos in the morning and a corneto (croissant).The mensa (dinning romm) where i have all my meals is fine- however a bit repetitive tho and my waist line i think is going to grow tenfold!Its great for guys who are absolutely starving, but for me when i am just really walking around the city, its not great.Pasta to start with, any shape or form; they always seem to serve pasta inglese- English pasta which is just plain, which i think is a bit of an unjust stereo type of Bristish cuisine!Followed by meat or fish plus the same roast potatoes and some form of veg, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, salad, wine beer, milk and water.This is all very nicely included into my accommodation price.However, twice a day, 7 days a week is a bit monotonous. However, there are a few other good restraints, but also my friends apartments or we have been shown the best place ever- pizza al metro- pizza by the metre- oh yes be jealous!!!They're amazing, you get 3 different topping on top and they normally judge about ½ a metre per person- well there was 4 of us last week and a metre was more than enough for us!
Pisa is quite a small flat town and its much like oxford or Cambridge in the fact that everyone has a bike- the easiest method of getting around, no matter how dilapidated old or rusty.The only problem is to get one is like gold dust and they normally get stolen within a month of buying it!These stolen bikes somehow end up outside the other university mensa and dodgy italian men hanging around and then say 'bici bici bici' or 'bicicletta' in a suspicious voice just as your walking pass them, panning off there bicycles at about €20- good up until someone in the street recognises that it is in fact their bike that had been stolen in the first place!
I had my first italain lesson yesterday, having not had any form of teaching yet so far and as i said above, due to my repulsion to grammar as soon as its mentioned in any shape or form, i was stuck in the nearly beginners group.After 2 hours of asking people questions about what they like and where they come from, plus going through the basic past tense, i spoke to the teacher and tomorrow will be attending a more advanced class....i'll let you all know how that goes.
Alllora, i think that is more than enough for now.Ciao tutti ed a presto!