Saturday, August 23, 2008

Final thoughts

View from the platform we ate at in Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio pictures

Alleyway in Castelvecchio

I've been home now for more than a week trying to catch up on my life and deal with a few disappointments here but I've been thinking about my Italian experience.
One of my biggest fears was that I would get lonely being in a strange place knowing noone in advance. One year I went to an ACS meeting with no close colleagues and I was staying in a hotel away from everything. (From then on, I have stayed in B&Bs so at least I could talk to someone in the morning.) I was unbelievably lonely. This was before I had a cellphone and my internet connections were sporadic. I hated eating by myself and going for several days without seeing a familiar face. I just wanted to cry-I was so alone. But in Italy, I never even had time to be myself much except very early in the morning and I usually had Dave the dog. I had my 'peers' to keep me entertained the rest of the time. Actually I wished I had interacted more with the townspeople as it would have helped my fluency but I was too exhausted alot of the time to spend the late nights out necessary.
I will try to continue Italian somehow maybe at WCC. Elena said that either Wayne or the DIA might have a series of Italian cinema so I definitely will go in for that. Meanwhile I have been going through my book.
Funny things I observed about Italian culture: no ice for their drinks. Jack ended up taking plastic cups full of water to freeze at the bakery for his nightly Manhattans. No corkscrews anywhere excepting maybe at the bar. Even the people who came in for the wine tasting didn't have a corkscrew on them. Those going to Italy should definitely bring their own. No black pepper. Maybe Italians don't like black specks in their food. We had white pepper on the table, which is much milder. Jack ended up bringing his own. Actually he had a whole bag of condiments to make himself at home, like mustard and butter for his bread. He couldn't abide eating ham without mustard but the Italians happily eschew mustard. I never added anything to Antonietta's sauces or soups-her tastes were always in sync with mine. I wish I could have followed her around in the kitchen but I had no time. She did most of the cooking while I was in class. I had read that Italians never put milk in their coffee after breakfast but noone gave me a second look after I ordered cappuccini even at night. In Switzerland, I had made the apparent mistake of ordering beer with fondue and the waitress told me I couldn't have any beer as it just wasn't done. A shock to me as in America, the customer always gets what they want as along as they pay for it.
Every door to every business has strings of plastic beads in front of it. I assume this is to keep the flies out but I never seen these door hangings before Italy.
Make sure you have plenty of toilet paper too. Although toilets were free (unlike France), toilet paper was usually missing as was soap. Bring hand sanitizer too. The toilets were all high pressure, low volume tanks that only occasionally had seats. They were effective though.
Italians seem to exaggerate everything: everything is the oldest, the most, the best, etc. They do seem to like to hear themselves talk. Being punctual is not a goal for them but overall, they seem very friendly and forgiving people.
Bring paper if you ever want to print anything and keep it hidden. No one uses clothes dryers in Italy. Mostly people had drying racks in their yards. There is plenty of sun and no humidity or rain so clothes would dry quickly.
So I am very glad I went and people, things and even my eldery pug survived without me although my flowers weren't as lush. I learned alot about Italy and fim and even myself. It was fun being a student again and getting As.

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