Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Classes are Underway!

It’s been a while (okay, like two days) since my last blog post, mostly because we started classes since I wrote last, and that’s been a bit of a draining experience. Not necessarily because it’s been academically difficult (more on that later) or that it’s a far way away (it’s not and is actually a nice walk from my house; again, more on that later), but rather that it’s been a draining classroom experience.

The class is four hours long, and with only a fifteen-minute break in the middle to give us time to get a drink or walk around. I was placed in level 2 (I said more on that later, stop asking!) and the professor, Prof. Guasparri, is absolutely crazy. No question. We didn’t have books, and therefore we didn’t have problems, so for 4 hours he talked. He talked and talked and talked. Then he stopped, asked us a really odd question, and then talked to us some more. For instance:

“It’s cold today. Why is it cold?” [points to some hapless person in middle of class]
“Uh…Uh.,,because there is no sun?”
“No! Because there is fog!”

Keep in mind this is all in fast Italian, such that many of my classmates had absolutely no idea what he was saying, particularly those who didn’t take Italian within the last semester. We did go over some actual language stuff, but it was all stuff I had covered a year ago (past tense, prepositions, etc.) and so today I moved from level 2 to level 3. Apparently their professor isn’t as clinically insane.

Still, even though the class is four hours long, the class is very interesting simply because the lingua franca has to be Italian. The professor can’t speak English and talk about what Italian is like because there are many there who don’t speak English. The class holds a lot of ERASMUS students (which is the EU study-abroad program) as well as many Naghreb, Arab, and Asian students. Speaking in English isn’t an option, so the professors speak, for the most part, only in Italian. While it can be difficult at first, particularly since mine spoke pretty fast, it does help you to understand inflection and syntax really quickly.

Also, the simple walk to get to the classes is quite nice. Apart from a 30-second steep uphill climb up Via dei Vallerozzi, the rest of the journey is taken on the Via Montanini, Via dei Banchi di Sopra, and the Via dei Banchi di Sotto, the three main roads in the city. There are always lots of people out, at any hour of the day (and most hours of the night), dressed smartly with their black coats and boots and hip hats and glasses. The shops are elegantly placed (and apparently all having sales, although they’re still really expensive. I’m not going to go ‘Wow, seventy-five euro, what a steal!’), and the roads and building faces look antiquated and cozy as always. It’s been raining for the past few days, but it has gotten warmer, which is a nice silver lining, and it makes the trips to class a lot easier.

I’m going to take a moment here to add to my list of Italian-stereotypes-that-are-really-just-facts:

Do all Italians wear scarfs? Yes. Man or woman, you are not dressed well at this time of year unless you have a snazzy scarf around your neck. Fortunately, these Italians have learned how to tie and display their scarfs well. This also means that, if I want to fit in, I must wear one. Oh, the burdens one must take to be Italian.

Do all Italians drink espresso and eat little biscotti? Yes. Espresso is very nice here, but served in very small quantities to people. It’s just a shot of caffeine before people get out. They also eat small pastries and cookies – the local delicacy is panforte, which is like fruitcake if you made fruitcake fantastic. I’m also really itching to try some of the local riccarelli, because those look both delicious and affordable (a potent combination!)

Now onto answer some of my viewer questions and comments!

Josh, I’m glad that my blog post is fun to read. Hopefully it’ll stay that way, and I’m sorry that your class is boring. But thanks for reading!

Mike…oh, Mike. I hope you like your single and the other four suite-mates aren’t too messy.

Vince - I appreciate the compliments. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good pictures for this blog post, but we can hope for next time. I’m sorry your penis got darted by cartoon Guy, and hopefully we’ll all find somewhere to go for dinner soon.

Dunbar – Unfortunately, I don’t get what the ‘dr’ means in your comment, so I’ll pretend it means “damn right’”, and you’re cheering me on. Thanks, dude.

Brian – Actually, yes, our kitchen, being super nice, will mean that I will move past pasta and peas. For the time being, however, given my currently constrained budget, I have had pasta with peas, oregano, salt, and pepper for the past few days as a meal here or there. Fortunately, I’ve also had other stuff, so it’s not just a one-track deal. We cooked stir-fry for our Italian roommates on Sunday, they certainly seemed to enjoy it. I can’t wait to get more ingredients and start cooking more stuff. I’ll keep all you guys posted.

That’s all for today, but hopefully I will write you all tomorrow and hopefully that post will have pictures! Ti parlerò più tardi, ciao!


  1. I'm upset that Benton and I didn't give you that same scarf-wearing imperative 55,000 Italians did! Humph!

  2. I agree with brian
    Next you'll be claiming goofy sunglasses, awesome ties, and rolled up jeans are italian too
    We're just ahead of the curve, is all

    oh and sounds like your having fun
    call of duty

  3. just google it, you'll see what I mean

    oh, almost forgot

    tl; dr

  4. Espresso is meant to be drank that way.

  5. Eat some meat.. Get a hunk of chicken, slice it up thin, dip it in breadcrumbs, fry it in olive oil. Put some fresh thyme on it. Eat it with spaghetti al oglio and some sauteed veggies, a slice of tomato, some cheese, and a glass of wine.