My landlord believes that the lives of Italians continue to be ruled by the Fates and one of the best and worst things about Rome is that you will start your day on one course and due to unforseen events, will inevitably end up in some unexpected situation. My first experience of Italian university, what I believed would be a straight-forward test to set us for the language course, turned out to involve a bomb-alarm, re-location and metro strike as well as a thorough examination of my listening, reading, writing and oral abilities.
I’ve chosen to embrace the sense of adventure which every day holds. Anyway, the bomb alarm proved an opportunity to get to know some other Erasmus students. My class is a fascinating mix of nationalities, with students from Turkey, France, Germany, China, Brasil, Iran, Slovakia, Croatia, Austria and Spain! This means that we all speak Italian together. I can already appreciate how special the erasmus experience is, as an opportunity to spend a year immersed in such a spicy cauldron of cultures. The Erasmus organisation in Rome is fantastic. I think there are five universities in the city so it’s a huge undertaking, but they arrange notorious parties, excursions around the country and are generally there to give advice and look after you if you get into trouble.
The fast-paced life of the erasmus student in Rome, with so much to do and be entertained by, can feel a bit surreal. As fun as it is, I don’t think I could spend a year in this way, which seems to me a bit like being a tourist on holiday for a year. By the end of my year abroad I want to feel like I really know the city, or a bit of it, its people and cultural tendencies. Essentially, I want to transform into a Roman woman. Fortunately, I have already got to know plenty of Italian students. My Sardegnan flatmate has been very welcoming, as have all the other Italian students in my building. They say that Sardegna is the Scotland of Italy, an island with it’s own national dress, music (which traditionally involves bagpipes), sense of autonomy, and reel-dancing. So I feel very at home! Our fridge is full of Sardegnese specialities – beer, cheese and buccatina (dried fish eggs which are sprinkled over tagliatelle). These, she insists, are superior to the produce of all other regions of Italy!
I am still getting my bearings of the city and the university. My course doesn’t start until October though so I’ve got plenty of time to explore. This weekend I have decided to go to the market in search of a second-hand bicycle because my feet are so soar from all the walking I’ve been doing. A scooter would be better, but I don’t feel brave enough to ride one yet. An Italian boy gave me a ride and tour of the city, certainly the best way to see it. And the most glamorous.
Last night I dressed up with two French and Spanish classmates to attend ‘Vogue’s Fashion Night Out’. All the designer shops were open from 7-11:30 pm. We drank complementary champagne and pretended to be seriously considering spending a thousand euros on silk shirts whilst looking over all the glamorous Italians and wishing to be one of them. At one point we found ourselves the only people in a room in MaxMara alongside the editor-in-chief of Vogue and her perennial entourage of paparazzi!
Hoping to scurry some time for sleep tonight before the unpredictable whirlwind recommences in the morning…