Non parlo Italiano bene, mi dispiace.

Also known as my first day of class at Il Sillabo.

I arrived early to take the placement test which basically looked like random letters sprawled across the page with the exception of a few words I recognized. I guessed my way through the first half, forcing myself to take deep breaths. Then came the last question, write…..summer….or description….nflasnflandlkandnnsf. Ok. I wrote about three sentences and then came to the swift kick of a realization that I had no idea what I was doing.

All the while I noticed students walking by the front desk having short quick conversations with the teachers in Italian. I was sweating and overly aware of the clueless look I couldn’t get off my face. I had forgotten how disorienting it is to be unable to understand everyone around you.

Another woman was escorted into the room to take the placement test, I heard her say thank you in English and my ears perked up. The woman was Carol a woman from Australia that ended up in the beginners class with me.

After a short walk for fresh air I realized how utterly dramatic I was being. I opened my note book and glanced at the four other girls in the class. Francesca, our teacher walked in, with a reassuring smile on her face, “Buongiorno!”

classroom with Carol on the left

our classroom with Carol on the left

She led us through completely in (very slow) Italian and at the break we were led to the other school (the new school, another building across the Piazza) where we got to meet the other students. First they gave the greeting speech in Italian, and my dumbfounded face came back despite my efforts to hide it, then (Hallelujah!) she repeated it in English. We were told the activities for the week and then we ate some delicious sandwiches and cake.

I quickly found Anna (my room mate), she introduced me to Alex. Now, in this very unfamiliar situation I must admit I was a bit to quick to cling to what I knew so when Alex said he was from Boston I kind of went without stopping. ‘Oh Boston! That’s where I went to school, I love it there, where in Boston? My school is in Kenmore Square…” Now he looked confused, “Bos-NIA, I’m from Bosnia.” Mortified, I apologized and he, Anna, and I went for a cappuccino before heading back to our classes.

Later we headed to COOP, the grocery store at the edge of town, and I met Aneja from Slovenia, one of Alex’s room mates. We spoke English the whole time.

Later that night we went for the guided walk with Stefania and dinner at a restaurant across the river called ‘Las Vegas.’ She would tell us about each place in Italian and then in English, she was hoarse by the end but I was so thankful.

inside the church

inside the church

my school is just to the left of the man on the bike

my school is just to the left of the man on the bike

One of the main streets

Students around the plaque with the original layout of the city

Stefania telling the Sillabo students about the history of San Giovanni

then we walked along the Arno to go to the resturant

then we walked along the Arno to go to the resturant

Mom, I took this for you.  We have some gorgeous clouds here.

Mom, I took this for you. We have some gorgeous clouds here.

le pizze, at Las Vegas

le pizze, at Las Vegas

Aneja (giving a sweet smile), Angela, and Felicia

Aneja (giving a sweet smile), Angela, and Felicia

we finished with some Limoncello.

we finished with some Limoncello.

After saying good night to the other students Anna and I headed back to our place.  Now when I first arrived it was only Anna at the house and the man that dropped me off didn’t stay to give me any explanations.  So Anna and I were under the impression that it was just the two of us in this apartment that looked like it was often rented out to students.  There are tons of random odds and ends from all over the world; an ashtray from Nicaragua, tea tins from London, etc.  The kitchen was well used but empty except for a half a bottle of white wine so the first night Anna and I had each had a glass and exchanged travel stories (she came by bus from Poland, which took 24 hours!) and back round.  Va bene, everything was great.

Allora, on this evening we came home to a surprise.  One of the doors that had been locked was open and someone was in the house.  All of a sudden a rather tall, thin, and blond woman comes out; she seemed just as surprised to see us as we were to see her.

Turns out we do have a Host, it’s this woman (Tatiana) and she had just returned from her vacation.  She and Anna go back and forth in Italian; all I understand is that she is wondering where her vino went and Anna is saying sorry a lot.  I start saying sorry.  She tells us not to worry, just keep the kitchen clean and make sure to turn off the lights when you leave.  She goes back to her side of the apartment (on the first floor), Anna go upstairs and exchange ‘oh my god’ faces then everyone goes to bed.

Pronto, provo scrivere solo in Italiano.  Mi dispiace perche, non ha molto bene grammatica.  Ma, provo e dopo forza bene.

Allora, primo, vado per una passeggiata con la scuola.  Ha molto informazione di San Giovanni Valdarno, molto interessante.  Dopo andiamo per cena in il ristorante, ‘Las Vegas.’  E buono.

Mi piace San Giovanni molto perche e una citta picolo ma e molto activa, e tutti persone e simpatici.

Grazie per tua pazienta!

Lucy

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