Thursday, June 14, 2012

At last, structure!

After taking the very informal oral section of the entrance exam at Stranieri on Monday June 4, I was placed in the C1 level (the first of two advanced levels). After visiting the enrollment office, being told I couldn't register for the ongoing C1 level course, and then having a professor vouch for me, I was all set to begin classes the next day!

Unfortunately for me, I still had plenty of things to take care of prior to starting my Italian language and culture classes, such as securing my residence permit, getting my "codice fiscale" to obtain my one-month scholarship money, and meeting with professors and staff from l'Università degli Studi di Perugia (the University of Perugia). I ended up missing my first day of class (Tuesday) to accommodate visits to various agencies around the town in my quest to obtain important documents. With these things out of the way, I went to bed on Tuesday night a little nervous about finally beginning classes. However, I was also looking forward to the structure they would bring to my days, which up to this point had been chaotic. 

The day started with me getting to my 8:00 am class (Translation Exercises from English to Italian) around 7:55. I waited for a few minutes past the hour, but no one was showing up, so I assumed I must have been in the wrong room. I went down to the International Students Office, explained what was happening, and then asked for help. The response from the man behind the desk was that I was too early for Italians. I had to smile at that. He added that they would be showing up 10-15 minutes late, most likely. Sure enough, the first student showed up around 8:15 and the professor 5 minutes later. Two more students came in not long after, rounding out the class of 4 students: an English girl, a Korean girl, a Vietnamese woman, and me.

At 11:00 am, I had another class called "Lecture on Contemporary Italian Authors." The professor in this class was incredibly passionate about what she was teaching, which made the hour go by really quickly. From there, I had a four hour break until 3:00 pm (or 15:00, as Italians would say). After a very inexpensive 2 Euro meal at the University of Perugia's cafeteria (called MENSA), I made it back in time for my 3:00 phonetics class. Among the professor's quirks, I enjoyed her referring to everyone by their nationality. For example, I became Mr. Mexican, while others in the class were Ms. Spaniard, Ms. Russian, Ms. Venezuelan, Ms. English, etc. 

That class, too, was only one hour. Immediately afterward, however, I had another class with the same professor called "Exercises in Phonetics & Phonology" in which we practiced pronunciation in a language lab for another hour. At 5:00 pm, I packed my things and made my way back to my room after a successful first day. The day was far from over, though! 

Earlier in the week I had been in contact with three students from the University of Perugia who will be studying at Grand Valley during the coming fall semester as part of the exchange program I am participating in. We set up a meeting over dinner for that Wednesday afternoon, which turned into two hours of friendly banter in English and Italian, eating delicious food, and wine-tasting. Dario, Jearta, and Luana: if you read this, I just want to say again what a great time that was! Grazie mille!

From there, I went grocery shopping at a popular store called "Coop." It was incredibly small and there were lots of people there at 8:00 pm trying to shop. Regardless, I made off with quite a bit of food for only 13 euros and, more importantly, it was quite the experience! 

You left me smitten, Coop.

The day wrapped up nicely after Skyping with my best friends and my family. It had been a day so spectacular that it muted many of the doubts I had been harboring for the past few days. As I reflected on this, I kept coming back to what everyone I had talked to the past few days kept telling me. In essence, it was this: "You're in Italy, just enjoy it."

1 comment:

  1. That's great advice to end with. I only wish all my classes started a few minutes late. I must be secretly Italian!