Friday, February 13, 2009

I Write This as Giorgio Sings 'American Boy' Behind Me

I’ll start off light-heartedly. I saw something on Wednesday that I’ve never seen before: I saw a nun driving a car. Pretty quickly, actually. I was walking up the street to get to the supermarket when a car driven by a tiny nun stopped in the road. I stopped walking to let the car pass, which is more than I can say for an equally old, tiny woman next to me, who simply kept trudging along. After she passed, the car started again, the nun smiling to me as she drove past. It brightened my day.

I also think that I haven’t yet determined just how small and wonderfully compact Siena is. I think that because I always overestimate the amount of time I need to set aside to get somewhere. For instance, I wanted to check out the opening hours of a restaurant, but I didn’t have much time before I had to meet up at the student center for class. I gave myself twenty minutes, thinking that’d be enough time to go across two-thirds of the city. I went to the restaurant – they were closed – and made it to the student location with ten minutes to spare. I had crossed almost two-thirds of the city in less than ten minutes – and that was going up and down hills, too. I think this overshot of time just shows how very compact and tiny and comforting Siena can actually be.

I’m also definitely glad that I started going to swim practice with Andrea last week. Since then, I’ve probably met (by name) five or six Italians, all of whom are adorably ashamed of their English skills (although they’re not really that bad). Alicia, Luca, Alessio, and Cesare, just to name a few, are all a little older than me, but they’re very nice and were patient when I fumbled my sentences. Since Andrea knew them, we were able to get rides back to our house, which saves us about one euro per drive. Talking with them is helping my Italian speaking skills, so it’s nice to network with people who I had no idea existed a week ago.

Tuesday night we went to a modern dance exhibition as part of the study abroad program’s events. I admit, going into the theater, I was incredibly skeptical. I envisioned myself sitting, bored, for two hours while women in dressed waved their arms and jumped around. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Although I couldn’t take pictures (durn nosy usher) the performance was great. There were a lot of acrobatics, and the dancers, male and female, did some pretty amazing gymnastic feats. Definitely glad I went.

I want to say that class has been going well, and, academically, it has been. Unfortunately, I dread going to Italian class because of the actual, physical classroom. Let me explain. The class is a large, white, nondescript room with tiny plastic chairs and no wall decorations. The fold-out desks that the chairs have are insufficient for all the books and notes we take, so most just end up writing on their laps. But that’s not the problem for me.

The class is, depending on the day, four or five hours, so you’re there from 9am to 1 or 2pm, with no chance for leaving. We get a ten-minute break in between to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom, but that’s about it. Many students don’t even show up, because they don’t have attendance requirements. The American students, on the other hand, do, so we go every day. Unfortunately for me, the classroom is covered with either dust or mold, both of which I’m allergic to. No matter how many antihistamines I shoot into my system, I end up sniffling and sneezing throughout the class. It’s really not a pretty picture (which explains why I haven’t taken photos of my classes). I only use this class for a week and a half more, when we move to other classrooms; when that day comes, oh, what a sweet day that will be.

Unfortunately, I have no pictures to show you this time. However, I have good news: I’m going to Foiano’s Carnevale on Sunday, said to be the world’s oldest Carnevale. I’ll definitely bring my camera, take lots of pictures, and put them up. The Saturday after that, we’re heading to Venice for their Carnevale. Again, pictures and fun times galore. Suffice to say, I’ll have a pretty loaded blog in the next few posts, and I hope you guys will all enjoy it. I’ll write soon, later!


  1. I can imagine that an American-Italian accent is made even less pretty by a groggy, runny combination of antihistamines and histamines fighting it out in your nasal cavity..

    Do you get reimbursed for all your theatrical and carnivale-y outings?

    We miss you Charlie! Whenever I see Sarah Borealis eating chili and pasta on tv, but can't quite see it because someone's standing in the way, holding the recyclable box full of USA Todays and doing a Smeagol impression, I think of you!

  2. Actually, the events we had, like the dance performance and the carnevale, are pre-paid (they were in the 'tuition' we paid for the semester), so apart from stuff like buying lunch or getting souvenirs, I don't have to pay anything to actually get to Carnevale.

  3. You didn't answer my question.

    Q&A Fail.

  4. is there a thing that does the stuff when the deallydo goes all kafoobely?