Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week 1: Fish out of Water

lunedí 07/09

     Monday was the first day of the week, and my host parents were at work for most of the day. I woke up at around ten and drank a café au lait for breakfast. Pietro and one of his friends came in and saw my hair before I had showered, all put up and messy.. it was embarrassing! She had no reaction because most Italians have really greasy hair and look like that in the morning.. phew. I took a shower and then about an hour afterward, Alessandro, Giulio, and I went to the piazza venti settembre to buy my mathematics textbook, but all of the stores that we went to were out! Instead, we decided to walk around and gaze at places, and I got a mini-tour around Pisa in the process.

     Shortly after I returned home, I met Laura. She is the maid who takes care of us while Giulia is at work. She does things like make our beds, clean the house, make lunch for us, among other things. I didn't understand too much of what she said since she has more of a southern dialect, which is very slurred. I wasn't able to make out the words as well as everyone else in my family. We had a bit of a conversation, but I was more-so attempting to guess what she was saying, rather than understanding. I got a few words across, so I hope she thought well of me. She'd be coming back on Tuesday anyway. She made this dish with eggs, olives, rice-like things, and tomatoes. It was really interesting because the salad and fresh tomatoes were hot, which is different. Giulio really didn't like it because he kept finding hairs in his salad, it was extremely funny because every time he would pick it up and say "DIO! BASTA!" Alessandro and I would begin to laugh and Laura would tell him to throw it away from the table, probably embarrassed because it probably was her own hair. 

     After lunch, I wrote a bunch of new words and phrases in my journal in order to study them at another time. I studied until around three or four when Giulia got home. We all greeted her, and they invited me to go to the Torre pendente di Pisa, or Leaning Tower of Pisa. I just had to go at least once, right? I mean, I live here. I took some photos and got one of Giulio holding up the tower, and he took one of me following suit. We also looked around at the other buildings, made some conversation, and walked around the streets of Pisa. It was a really nice outing, and I started to notice that I was making sense of the language a lot more, after only three days. I was beginning to understand conversations, local lingo, and being able to respond to questions.

     My photo is really embarrassing because the only one that was taken of me was when I had the sun in my eyes, and I got photobombed. I really laughed hard when I saw it, so I decided to post it.

     On our way back to the house, I saw some grafiti on the wall and laughed. It said "Fuck the Police" with the hammer and sickle, but in English. I took a picture of it, and so did my family. Giulia—who speaks no English at all—asked what it meant, and both I and Giulio responded with "va fanculo". It was a good laugh for all.. cussing doesn't seem to be a big problem in Italy.

     Not much happened once we got home, so I just sat and watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Italian with Alessandro and Giulio. We didn't get to finish it before dinner, so it was a little bit of a bummer. At dinner, Giulia served a dish that had whole squids and refried beans. I didn't like it very much. I'm not much of a bean person, but I didn't mind squid.. or so I thought. I bit into it and immediately was about to regurgitate. Being the courteous gentlemen that I am (hahaha), I kept a poker face and scarfed it down, eating bread along with each bite in order to quell the feeling. Today was Pietro's first day of driving practice, so he talked about it the entire night, and it was hilarious. It was like listening to my sisters' and friends' experiences all over again. To finish off the dinner, we ate pears, and I think I've got the art of cutting fruit down after only three days.

     Before going to sleep, I did some more studying, writing, and talking with my father. We talked a lot about the grammar rules of Italian, in Italian. Again, it was weird how I was already beginning to understand Italian already. I was excited to see how well I can improve this year. Pietro invited me to go out with him on nights except for the next two days, since he was going to hang out with his friend Maria and going to a birthday party. This night was the first time that Alessandro and Giulio went out of their way to say goodnight to me. I think I'm starting to be a part of the family. Va bene

martedí 08/09

     Tuesday was a day to remember.. for better or worse. It started out with Paolo and I waking up at around 7:00 in order to catch the train to Pontedera at 7:50. We were able to make it there without a sweat, and the train wasn't packed at all, so we continued our conversation in Italian there. It's really nice to have someone who can work with you and at the same time help you understand the meaning of things. Around thirty minutes later, we arrived and walked around four kilometers in Pontedera to where my school is; it's really far from the station.

     I found out at the school that I would be in Class 4-A, which is all well and good, but I was also kind of hoping I'd be in year five. Oh well, I guess. Here's to hoping this year will be a great one. In addition to doing some documents at school, we went to the post office and police station for my residence permit. It was really cool when we went to the police station because on the train I had told Paolo that I loved motorcycles, and he ended up having one in the garage and gave me a ride on it to the station.

     After the station, we went to the Wind store in order to get my european SIM card. It was a mess at first because when I switched SIM cards, I didn't know my original Apple ID. I ended up having to take home a locked SIM and my phone did not work whatsoever. I honestly slaved over the computer for five-to-six hours trying to contact Apple Support, and any other contacts I had. Eventually, I gave up and used a paperclip to open the SIM tray. I put in the old card and found it by pure chance. I fixed it, and was so relieved. I found that while I was stressed, it made it a lot harder to focus on what people were saying and to understand them.

     While I was home in-between errands, Pietro said that Ginevra wanted me to come to her birthday party, but I was a little hesitant because I hardly knew much Italian. I ended up accepting because I wanted to put myself out there rather than stay cooped up in the house and study all day. Paolo was the one who drove us out to the venue, so we got there a little early, we were one of the first few.

     At first, it was really awkward, because I had to kind of stay by Pietro while everyone was greeting each other, because I couldn't really speak. Soon though, some of his classmates came over and we talked, joked, and laughed a lot. They were practicing their English, and I my Italian. It was a nice change of pace, and we all ate and drank a lot. The waiters kept bringing out different courses, it was overwhelming. First was some light snacks, then salads, fruits, appetizers, dishes, pastas, and pizzas; it was crazy! During the party, there was a DJ and everyone was dancing and having a good time, among other things. I made a lot of friends during the party, everyone seemed to think of me as an exotic or something, haha. I sure hope my school will be that easy to make friends. The people at the table somehow convinced me to stand up and ding my glass with a knife, and say Diamo un applauso per Ginevra. Buon compleanno! to Ginevra in Italian, and everyone clapped while laughing. It was so embarrassing, but Ginevra seemed to love it. I must have a really different accent than Pisans. After, we had cake, took lots of pictures, selfies, drank more champagne, sang karaoke, and danced.

     At the end of the party, I did a duet karaoke with one of the other guys on "Stay With Me" by Sam Smith for Ginevra, and it was absolutely terrible and hilarious. I hope I get to do that again, because even though I'm terrible at singing, it was really enjoyable. Around 1:30 in the morning, I had to leave, and everyone wanted to say bye to me, and Elena invited me to her birthday party on the 19th. In Italy, the 18th birthday is a really big deal, much like a quinceñera in Spanish culture, or the "Sweet 16" in the states. I made a lot of friends, got a lot of Facebook profiles / phone numbers. I hope I can hang out with these people in the future.

mercoledí 09/09

     Wednesday. I woke up at around 11:00 and felt like a bum. I was so dazed, but after I took a shower it went away. I said my good mornings, and went straight to studying in the study. I hadn't studied in the past day, so I had to catch up. I immediately pulled out my book of words and began to write new ones, go over old ones, and repeat phrases. This went on for around an hour until Giulio's cousin arrived and Alessandro, Giulio, and I all played NERF with him, all the while Laura was yelling at us because we kept running in the house and knocking against the walls.

     I ended up taking a nap at around three, because I was still really tired from the party the night before. I slept until five and woke up to Pietro arriving at home. We went out and rode our bikes to the supermarket to buy some school supplies for me and a backpack for him. It was hilarious because the only backpacks that were there had some kind of girly inside, such as polka-dots or rainbow cartoons. He ended up finding and buying a backpack that is pure white, but he didn't see the inside before we exited the store.. it was this—

     After we returned home, Paolo came home. He came in and talked to me and invited me to talk about my day, or yesterday at the dinner. I accepted, but was pretty nervous, because I haven't really practiced much conversational skills, just studying vocabulary and understanding people talk. In these past five days, I have already improved so much, it's crazy.

     At dinner, I was really nervous to talk, but the air is so welcoming, and my family is really nice. I spoke a lot faster than I realized, and we joked about the party that I went to on Tuesday night. Paolo asked me what I thought of the girls at the party. He wanted me to respond with either cesso, which literally means toilet (slang for ugly) or buona, but that is apparently for old people. Italians now say fia.. which means fine. There were a few really beautiful girls at the party, so I laughed while I said cesso e fia. Pietro said a name from the party and we both came to a consensus that she was a 9.5/10. Dinner ended up lasting a really long time so we finished and almost immediately went to sleep, after finishing an episode of Top Gear.

giovedí 10/09

     Thursday wasn't that eventful of a day. In the morning, I did the usual: woke up, took a shower, ate breakfast, and began to study. At around ten, Pietro's friend Tomasso came over to do their Greek homework together, and also to play around. He was at the fiesta of Ginevra—since they're in the same class—so we met there. In Italy, you stay with your class all throughout liceo. If you're class 1-A, then you will be 2-A, 3-A, 4-A, 5-A along with everyone else in your class. They will all be fifth years this year, so the class is really tight. Everyone at the party was from the class, and they were all friends with each other.. if only the states were like that. I ended up distracting them from their homework for a little because he kept wanting to ask me questions that he wasn't able to at the fiesta, even though I'll be at the next one this coming Saturday.. va bene.

     I left to go to the study to do some speech practice, and then we ate lunch. Pasta. Yum. Even though I have been here for almost two weeks already, I have not gotten tired of pasta, just bread. The bread here is all fresh, but very dry. I find myself always thirsty at meals, and end up drinking at least six or seven cups of water. After lunch, we all played some games on the Wii like Mario Party, Wii Sports, and one other that I don't remember.

     Around 5:30, Tomasso left and Giulia came home around fifteen minutes later. Giulio and I went on a walk around the city with her almost immediately after she came home. I think this is mainly because Paolo e Giulia think that Giulio needs exercise, because this is the third time we've gone on a walk this week. When we returned home, I did some review on my words, and we ate soon after. I talked again at dinner, but not as much as I'd have liked to. I am still a little scared to speak, because everyone is so loud and when I talk I am fairly uncertain and quiet, which is unlike me. At home, I'm usually very straightforward, loud, and talkative. I can not wait till I can speak the language proficiently, because I have a feeling that I'll fit in at the dinner table.

venerdí 11/09

     Today was pretty casual. Before lunch, I did my typical routine, everyone was studying, so I did the same. I am studious, but I find it hard to study for three-to-four hours straight. We ate couscous for lunch, which I thought was parmesan cheese at first, due to the color. We had some vegetables and tomato sauce to put on top, and it was fairly good.

     If you haven't noticed by now, I love to talk about food. I am a foodie. I haven't yet weighed myself, but it doesn't look like I have gained any weight. In fact, it looks as if I am getting fitter because I am not drinking milk, and eating any of the processed foods that we have in the states. It is also extremely frowned upon to eat anything else inside the house besides something at the dining table.

     After lunch, I sat in the living room while Giulio was watching the Simpsons. I never realized how much I disliked the show. I apologize to any Simpsonizers out there, but it needs to go.. at least in Italian. It is really funny to watch films that come out in English, and seeing the peoples' mouths move at different times than the Italian dub over it. I am starting to pick up rapid speech. I used to only pick up words here and there, but I am beginning to pick up words faster, and not have to focus solely on others' speech. Since I didn't want to study, and had nothing else available to do, I somehow made it through three hours of the Simpsons.

     I had previously expressed my passion for running, and the necessity of it for me. Alessandro asked me if I wanted to see the track after I dropped off cash to Tomasso for the fiesta di Elena. In Italy, people compile around 10 euro each and put it into a pot and the person who just had a birthday buys the present for the next person with the cash. It's neat, and it eliminates the need for gifts out of obligation. We rode to Piazza Cairoli, dropped off the money, and then rode through the narrow streets towards the sport center. I still do not know when I will start hurdling, but this Sunday, a doctor will be coming to give me a physical and assess whether or not I am fit enough to participate at this sport center. Haha, selective.. I like it.

     On the way to the center, I was following Alessandro and when we stopped, I stepped on the brake a little fast and fell off the pedals. I lost my balance and kept laughing for around ten seconds. When I stood up, disoriented, I immediately crossed the street. I'm not sure if the car was going too fast, but it almost t-boned me perfectly; like bread and butter. Thankfully, I got out without a scratch, and only a temporarily mad Italian driver. I might've made him mad when I laughed when he stepped on the brakes and half-waved while continuing to go forward. I'm not sure what Giulio and Alessandro thought, but Alessandro laughed about it afterward. I saw the center, and then I led us back to home, per Alessandro's command. I think he wanted to see that I could get myself home. I'm not that bad with Italian, am I?

     When we got back home, we had to immediately leave to catch the bus to Giulia's workplace. We were going to her parent's villa again. While we were waiting at the stop, the bus didn't show even ten minutes after the supposed time. Alessandro said under his breath, "Cazzo! Sempre tarde." I couldn't help but laugh. We decided to walk to the next stop in order to pass the time. When we were about three-fourths of the way there, Alessandro began to run. Giulio and I looked at each other confused, but then look back and see the bus. Running to the stop, we hailed the bus. It was packed. Fast-forward to when we were getting off the bus. The drivers in Italy are stupid. He passed the stop even after we pressed the stop button well between stops, and continued to drive even after we jumped up to tell him. We get off and walk about half a kilometer to Giulia's workplace and we drive to the villa.

     At the villa, we went swimming, played soccer, and a few other things. I found out that I was a lot better at soccer than I had remembered, and was really good at shooting barefoot. I accidentally shot at Alessandro in the goal while Giulio had ran in front of me, and it hit him in the pelvis area. He momentarily collapsed and both Ale and I bursted in laughter. Giulio, I'm sorry. We then went to play some tennis, among other things, and returned home to eat dinner. I didn't do anything after dinner but write, and then go to sleep.

sabato 12/09

     Yesterday, a family friend who lives in Florence named Giulia came over. When I woke up at around ten, she had made breakfast for the family.. and it was wonderful! At breakfast we all talked a lot (I think it lasted around two hours) and then we all went about our day. Giulia and Giulia both started on making lunch, while Ale and I went to go shopping for some new clothes, mainly pants. In the case that I haven't mentioned this, you're not allowed to wear shorts to school. It is considered disrespectful and too informal. When we were shopping at H&M, I noticed that stores in Italy are way different. The rooms each have their own style, clothes are set by other clothes that not only match, but go perfectly with each other, and everything just looks wonderful.

     We return home to a freshly made grape pie.. and boy was it lovely. I had never heard of it, nor did it sound very appetizing, but I made a pact with myself to try everything set before me, whether or not I liked the taste. At lunch we had this soup with pasta pieces in it; it reminded me of Alphabet Soup, except they were round balls. I didn't have enough.. it was delicious. Following lunch, Giulio, Ale, and I all went to the store to buy some school supplies and a few other things. I really love riding my bike around Pisa. The city is always abuzz with activity and there's never a quiet moment. There's always something going on somewhere.

     Following dinner, I got dressed and Paolo, both Giulias, and I went to a concert in the Cathedral of Pisa; this is the other building that you see in photos of the leaning tower. The concert was really interesting, and it was performed by the Orchestra e Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, which is really famous. The words were all sang in German, so I had no clue as to what they were saying, but I could follow along in Italian. The concert lasted about two hours straight, so I ended up reading some other things in the booklet. I ended up reading the bios for the soprano, tenor, and bassist with little problem, so I was really happy to see that my Italian was actually improving. For anyone interested, I will put a picture of the program below for those who are interested.

domenica 13/09

If you made it this far, grazie!
I will be posting on Sunday evenings, with Sunday coming first in the future! This will allow me to actually write about my Sundays after they happen instead of cutting them short. Arrivederci! Buona notte! Ciao!

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