Monday, 17 November 2014

Then and Now: 8 Weeks into the Year Abroad!


So, I know it's been a while since I've blogged about anything, but I don't want this to feel like something I have to do super-regularly or feel forced into doing it because blogging about my year abroad was also supposed to be enjoyable! But tonight I felt like writing so wahey, here's a little read for you tonight.

By Wednesday I've officially be 8 weeks into my year abroad (I've had to check that like 15 times already JUST to be sure as well), and I think I'm feeling pretty differently about everything than how I felt at the start of this thing 8 weeks ago. This is going to be a post about just a few things in my life that have changed, for the better, and how stuff is going.

Where I live
I'm not sure if I mentioned with all the way back at the end of October, but the only housemate I had was my landlord. He's a nice enough guy (around 50 and is some sort of editor/writer I think) and I don't see him very much as he works/is in his study/I'm out/etc, but it did mean that I wasn't living with anyone else, specifically anyone else my age. I think this impeded my start here in making friends (or at least having someone there at my disposal to talk to), but more on that later.

What's new is that about 3 weeks ago, I came home from being in uni all day to find that there was someone's things in the spare bedroom (which my landlord had been trying to rent out for a long time). I immediately assumed it was the Spanish Erasmus student who'd been to visit the apartment the night before but, since no one was in to ask, I wouldn't find out until later. And it wasn't until I was cooking my dinner that I heard the front door go and my new housemate walked in...and an older Spanish lady, of about 50 to 60 (maybe that's harsh, I don't know, I'm not good at guessing ages), walked in and introduced herself! Of course I really wasn't expecting this and I felt a bit put out for a while, as I'd reeeally been hoping for someone my own age to move in. I thought about finding a new place to live, but after sleeping on it I decided to just get on with life. The trouble of finding a new place didn't really appeal, plus my apartment is really nice so I am loathe to leave it! Anyway, the long and short of it is: the Spanish lady is called Esther and has turned out to be very nice. Although we have trouble communicating (both not fluent in Italian, she barely speaks any English and me no Spanish, plus I find her Italian heavily accented and hard to understand), I don't see her that often in the flat either(she's also a student, funnily enough...) so we get on when we need to, and end of really!

As well as this, my room is much more homey now too. I had a reading week at the start of November, and I used this time to visit home for a few days (which was absolutely lovely). But sleeping in my bed at home reminded me that the weather was getting colder and in Bologna my landlord had only given me sheets and a blanket for my bed - no duvet. So, when I returned to the city I went off to Ikea (on it's own little shuttle bus, of course) and bought myself a (thin but functional) duvet and a pretty set of covers for it (along with other things, like coat hangers, a cushion, some cacti plants, candles....I went a little overboard).

Pretty bedding!

My new little friends!

Social life
So I've moaned, during the first few weeks, to various friends and family at home about how I'd made few lasting connections with other students out here. And this wasn't through a lack of trying - I'd been chatting to other students in- and outside of lectures, at tandem nights and other events but I just hadn't made anything stuck. I was saying before how I think it didn't help that I wasn't living with anyone my own age, which I stand by, although there's no telling who you're going to get on with, even if you live with them (as I have heard from other fellow year-abroaders!). This just made me miss my friends back in the UK all the more!

That, at least, seems to have been changing in the last couple of weeks - I now know enough people that I can meet people through them, or regularly speak to and see them, which has been really good. In retrospect I think I was just expecting the whole meeting people and making friends business to be easier than it has proved to be; I think my first year at my home university has spoiled me on this front, because I lived with so many different people and I found it easy to find the people I got on with and so I made friends quite quickly. I was also half-expecting to befriend more Italian students than I have and so with most of the people I've been socialising our common language is English - which is fine, because I'd rather be speaking in English than not speaking at all, anyway.

It's still great to talk to people back home too, whether they're currently back home or off somewhere abroad too - last Saturday I took the (slow, by accident) train up to Milan (no really it 3 hours instead of like 1) to visit the same friend I met there at the end of August, who I'd met on the UK-German Connection event many moons ago. She had a friend visiting her - someone else who'd been on that trip, so it was really nice to have a little catch up and a mooch about the city! Milan is a really nice city, I've decided - very different to Bologna, and it feels more like a city because it's huuuge, which is nice.

 Kumpels auf Tour in Milano!

And speaking of languages, despite all the chatting in English my Italian has improved leaps and bounds - compared to when I started here 8 weeks ago, and also compared to when I first stepped foot in this country at the end of July to begin my summer au pair job. I've not spoken much on here about my au pair experience since, and maybe I will at some point but right now I will just say that I'm glad I did it - although not solely from a language point of view, this has been the best outcome of the experience. I don't know all the words and grammatical bits and bobs, but I will happily babble along in a conversation, even if I'm aware at the time that that adjectival ending does not go there! As (by the way) I didn't get the chance to enroll on the 'Italian for foreigners' course here (I missed the deadline, whoops!) I've been using the tandem language nights that I go to every other week to get some help from the Italian students on things that I need clarifying (as well as conversation practice, of course!).

Other than that, I am totally becoming Italian merely due to all the coffee I'm drinking and pizza I'm eating. Yep, definitely.

That's all you'll get out of me for now, I think! I've got some good (or at least I think they are) ideas for some things to write about in the next few weeks, not to mention I have a visitor arriving on Wednesday and I shall be making a visit myself next weekend! Wednesday my boyfriend arrives all the way from England, which I’m really excited for! So he’ll be here for the weekend, and then the week after I’m going to Germany to visit my friend in her year abroad town, and we are going to a real life German Christmas market! I’m super excited because not only have I never been to a German Christmas market, I get to go to Germany (which I love) and have Schnitzel und Glühwein und Currywurst wahoo!

Ciao for now,


P.S. just checked, just to be sure, and it really is 8 weeks. Wow.

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