It’s close to 4:30 pm on Saturday, and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write! The last two days have been a whirlwind of all things Italian, so let me catch up.
I found my people with the Umbra Institute at the airport in Rome, and we took a bus to Perugia. It was only two hours, but it felt like longer because we drove through some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever encountered. Sunflower fields, corn fields, grape vines, and the prettiest little houses were scattered all over the countryside along our road. Once we arrived in Perugia, we received the orientation spiel from our advisers and were settled into our hotel rooms with our new roommates. I roomed with Jaila and Nicole, but in Perugia there are five of us living in one apartment together.
Exploring Perugia from the hotel was not as easy as we thought it would be, but 100% worth it. Hotel Gio lies at the bottom of the huge hill on which most of Perugia’s inner city sits, so naturally getting anywhere is a bit of a climb. Nicole and I went out with some people from Umbra in search of a wine bar, but what we found was so much cuter! A tiny Italian restaurant owned by a family of really kind Albanians fed us sandwiches, bread, prosciutto, melon, and deliciously chilled Prosecco. They joked with us about our collective gaps of knowledge in the Italian language, and didn’t seem to mind that we looked like we had just run a marathon. By the time we left, we were all feeling the giddiness of succeeding in new places with new friends – the Prosecco helped too!
The next day we were all shuttled up the hill to our apartments in the center of Perugia. I cannot emphasize how excited I am about this, but I have a bedroom window that looks out to a cathedral! Why does that matter, there are cathedrals all over the United States. This cathedral was finished in 1490, two years before anyone from Europe had even seen the American continent! It is enormous and old and beautiful and I absolutely adore it.
Opening my bedroom window to see this view everyday for the next four months will not make Italy easy to leave in December.
Our apartment is on the third floor of a building around the corner from the Umbra classrooms, and in between us is the Piazza IV Novembre, a large open square with a gorgeous fountain in the center. There is an elevator – thank goodness! – but it can really only fit two people at a time. One of my new goals is to conquer stairs before I leave: my calves will look amazing, and I will not be out of breath when I reach the third floor! The inside of the apartment is a lot bigger than I thought it would be, and fully furnished with old, endearing fixtures. There is an out-of-date sitting room as you walk in the door, a spacious kitchen, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. My three roommates that have arrived so far, and I went exploring again once we were all moved into it, only to find the best view of the city I’ve seen so far.
Other than that, it’s been mostly school business. I took my written Italian placement test earlier today, and I’ll need to go back later this evening to take the oral exam. The outcome won’t matter too much because I don’t need anymore language classes for my minor, and if I get placed in a 200-level course, it only means I’ll have an easier semester. The rest of my classes look amazing though! One of them is dedicated to the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci, and two others that I’m taking will cover Italian short stories and other literature. All of these have at least one weekend trip, which means I get to see even more of this beautiful country while I’m here.
Do I sound happy? Because I am! Culture shock, smulture shmock! Viva Italia!