Thursday, 2 October 2014

One Week In: On the city, university, my birthday and missing home.

I cannot, no really, cannot believe that I've been here for a week. Like, really?! It feels like I've been here for absolutely ages (and yet no time at all) and it is such a strange feeling.

So here's what I've been doing! In one week there have been high points (being told my Italian is decent, midnight gelateria trip) and naturally low points (getting hopelessly lost, being homesick) but overall I think I'm doing okay!

First of all, I've been doing a lot of walking. I did my buy my abbonamento (essentially a bus pass) on Saturday (and after queuing for close to an hour, to be told that I could have also bought it at my local tabaccheria (shop that sells basically everything - smokes, bus tickets, magazines, stamps...), ah well!), but this place is just so big that I still end up walking a lot each day. Which is good! I like walking - and I've found that the more I walk, the more I seem to know my way around and the more interesting places I find.

The city is just beautiful, with sweet little tucked-away alleys and cobbled streets, and grand architecture that makes you walk around craning your neck back to take everything in. Piazzas, statues, churches, the two towers (that Bologna is famous for, I didn't know!), the's amazing. Here are some photos for you, although I've only taken them with my iPhone camera and I plan to go out this weekend armed with the real camera!

This was taken at Parco Montagnola (yes those are pomegranates) which is near the station and Piazza dell'otto Agosto. It's a nice green area that also seems to have a primary school in it, and a lot of runners.

 The view from the same balcony at Montagnola.

So this is a cathedral! Cattedrale di San Pietro. It's only a side view so you can't quite see it, I know (oh and yes that's the Disney store on the right, no I haven't been in (yet)), but I really want to go in and have a look around so maybe soon, eh!

 This is the Basilica Santo Stefano (in Piazza Santo Stefano), also known as Sette Chiese (Seven Churches), because they had to keep on re-building it! Another somewhere I'd like to visit properly.

Ancient arches at Santo Stefano.
 And this is part of Via Zamboni - aka student central! I first discovered this place on my second night here when I went to the 'tandem language event', as it was 9pm it was heaving with students in and out of the bars that line the square. In the daytime it's kinda the same, except they drink coffee not cocktails!

Phew! Sorry for the overload of photos, but I really wanted to share them! So there's just a little taster of how amazing this city is.

Anyway, I've been out and about every day since I got here bar Sunday, when I stayed in my pajamas all day and did not go out once - bliss! It was good to properly chill out before uni started - and my first lecture was at 8.30am on Monday. Never again will I complain of 9ams (except that I will, of course).

And I've finally managed to sort out what modules I'm doing! I've chosen Italian Literature (8.30am Mon-Wednesday and I cannot keep my eyes open), General Linguistics (good, I enjoy it), Contemporary History (not bad) and of course German Language and Linguistics (I will be joining the 2nd/3rd year students rather than the freshers like in my other classes). I'm going to attempt to find a German who I can tandem with or something, since I'm clearly out of practice - today I went to speak to my lecturer for German and she spoke to me in German - I understood of course, but I seriously struggled to put my words into any language other than Italian. Since when have I been able to remember my Italian better than German?! Clearly all my time abroad, Milan and Bologna, has really been a big help in that department..

I've spoken to a lot of people before/after classes (including an Italian Claudia on Tuesday, how funny!) but not exactly made any proper friends yet. Not that I mind exactly - I think that so long as I keep going with it I'll eventually have some! Unfortunately I've still no roommates but, while I sometimes get lonely and wish I had some, it's quite nice that the time I get at the apartment is just for me and it's quite relaxing.

On the topic of feeling lonely, and I'm going to be quite honest about so sorry guys, I felt this way very much so on Tuesday - my birthday. In the morning and early afternoon I was out and about for uni, it was unbelievably hot (like 26 degrees, no joke) and then I got lost looking for some Erasmus conference-thing, which just made me irritable as I hadn't eaten/drank much that day...anyway when I finally got there I sat down and plugged into the wifi, at which point I read all the lovely messages I'd received from people on Whatsapp and Instagram wishing me a happy birthday - that was the last straw! I felt like crap so headed back home, trying not to look too upset on the bus. When I got back, there was a package on my desk from my Mum - my notebook of Italian grammar notes, some blue-tack and a bar of Cadbury. I couldn't help it - I burst into tears, very messily too. I just wanted to be home!

Anyway, I eventually manned up after drinking tea, watching Friends and eating the entirety of said bar of chocolate, and called home to chat with Mum which was nice, hopefully she's going to come out and see me soon! After tea I skyped with my boyfriend, and then I sat and had a beer with my landlord and his girlfriend. Though it was pretty late, they then took me out for a gelato in the city center (he had seen me upset earlier and, having learned it was my birthday, invited her over so that we could)! He then proceeded to show me some of the sights of Bologna (most of which I'd already seen, although not by night) - got back home at around 1.30am and had to be up at 7, but it was totally worth it.

Oooh reading that back it was a bit sad/boring but I'm leaving it in! Long story short, I miss home. This new chapter is in some ways harder and in some ways easier than my summer was, but I just need to keep trundling on! I think after Tuesday I reached a breakthrough - until then,  every day I'd gotten a little teary at the thought of home. Since then, I haven't! I know it's only been two days since Tuesday but that has to count for something, right?!

In other news, there's apparently some sort of 'tortellini festival' going on near me on Saturday and I'm definitely going to go and check it out! And since I can use my bus pass anywhere I want to, I might go for a little trip out somewhere. I've also managed to stick up a few photos on my wardrobe, with more to come. And, on my way home I spotted a sale on in H+M so I'm going to take a gander in there after my lectures tomorrow...the main shopping street also has other stores nearby called 'Jennyfer' and 'Pimkie' which are basically just like H+M (but in a good way, yeah!) AND there's a Kiko Milano, a really good but decently priced makeup store. Must behave, guess it's a good thing my student finance hasn't come in yet!! (Late, as ever).

Well, you've had enough of me for one evening I think. I need to make a cup of tea and sort out whatever it is I'm going to watch tonight (I've been watching a lot of films and Friends this last week..)...

...Ciao for now!


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