Levi from California is currently studying abroad in Italy for a year through Aspect Foundation. In collaboration with Levi, From California to Italia will chronicle his journey through the year realtime. We are excited to kick off the series with his first chronicle below!
Now are you ready for a virtual walk through Italy?
Parts of Rome, you can imagine. The architecture, the cobblestone sidewalks, and the guards dressed as gladiators. Lesser, do people imagine the Italian graffiti, the constant echo of police car sirens, the “active” beggars who waltz up to cars stopped at red lights to offer a windshield cleanse for Euros, and scattered billboards advertising American-born films dubbed in Italian – Fantastici Quattro (Fantastic Four), Città Di Carta (Paper Towns)…But they exist in harmony. One never drowning out the other, it creates the extraordinary Italian vibe tourists talk about. That everyone talks about. Not that I’m a tourist.
I think it is also assumed by many that Italians have a reputation for being reckless drivers – it’s true. The optional Red, the optional pedestrian, the optional road. Cars even park ¾ on the sidewalk…I suppose to make room on the road for the hectic driving. Not yet have I seen, or heard about, any accidents though. So, for being such reckless drivers, they are rather wreck-less.
Buses, metros, walkers, bicycles, unicycles, skaters, custody…People get around someway or another. Those masses as blurry conglomerations of diversity fill Rome. Five hour lines to St. Peter’s, tour buses with more meat than metal, and street performers to your heart’s desire. Everything is photogenic, and everyone is a tourist. Not to say that I’m one.
And yes…All stone structure have some ancient story or another. “This building marks the fall of this rule, and this building marks the fall of this ruler’s killer.” And with all the historic scenery, McDonald’s has found its way here too…how gourmet.
Speaking of which, the food is, yes, rather extraordinary. Vending machines are more delectable than my fair share of restaurants. But I haven’t decided if things are more expensive here or not. Lemon and mint gelato, pizza open to the imagination, pasta so good that it’s ridiculous, an endless bread basket with every meal, three courses, a planned lunch and dinner, delectable water, undesired seltzer water, and the lemonade is always fizzy. All this could be experienced in a day. The amount of possible meals is overwhelming, and I have yet to eat something that I haven’t enjoyed. But that isn’t surprising being as that food is one of the most prominent attractions of Italy. It makes sense that people tour across the world just to have some authentic Italian food. Not that I’m a tourist.
I’d have to say though, that school has taken the most “getting used to.” Not only do I feel at loss because of the language barrier, but, unlike Californian schools, the teachers change classrooms and the students are in the same room with the same people all day. (Fun Fact: As long as one does not fail a year at school, they will be with the same people for their entire high school career.) Because of the lack of movement, people tend to get fidgety and talkative, so I’ve been slowly realizing why the teachers are so assertive.
I’ve heard a lot of people say that in Italian schools, the students sit like lumps on a log while the teacher simply talks the entire period, and that it is not interactive. But with that, I would have to disagree. During many classes, teachers often ask questions and have students write on the chalkboard, or ask students to work in groups. Basically, I don’t feel as though the students simply sit and stare at the front of the classroom as the teacher lectures. I’ve found that I enjoy school, and it’s a great teaching method for working on my Italian….which I need…because it’s not like I’m a tourist.
Also, the people here are extremely nice, so far! Not bombarding me with questions expecting me to understand, but rather, making sure to talk clearly and relatively slow while also sympathizing with my obvious disability. Plus, being that this is an “exchange,” they are working on their English too; some people better than others as one would expect. I’m amazed at the level of intellect that exists here, and I really need to learn Italian to get in on some average discussion! I mean, I’m staying here for nine more months, and – to let out the complete truth – it’s not like I’m a tourist…
Living here is challenging. Everything is new, and everything is different, so it’s taken an open mind, a welcoming heart, and a lot of acceptance. I’ve been here a month, and those days have been life-changing. I live in Peschiera Borromeo, Italia…This is not a blog of a tourist.