Hello from Bologna everybody! I know I haven’t posted in a week, but hear me out. I’ve been busy every second of every day. I’ve barely had time to stop and truly explore and enjoy the city I’m in. It started off with arriving at my hotel on Monday afternoon. I met Danielle Di Leo who is our student services coordinator on the Italian side. She gave me a map marked with important locations for me to know, told me about buying my cellphone and said “In bocco al lupo”, which means “Good luck” in Italian.
Buying a phone wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I arrived at Wind (one of the cellphone companies in Italy) and picked a phone from the display. The man working behind the counter decided to take pity on my broken Italian and spoke pretty decent English. He explained my phone and how to activate it. Then I returned to the hotel to give my phone information to Danielle. When I returned, Andrea Ricci, our program director, was there with his son, Ramundo. (Yes, for everyone’s information, Andrea can be a male name in Italy.)
Then starting bright and early Tuesday morning, we began our week-long orientation sessions. Every morning we would have one or two sessions covering various topics: the city, the program, il permesso di soggiorno, safety, pre-session, and finally housing. That last one is the most important one of them all. As Andrea said to us at the housing meeting, “My favorite thing about this program is the housing aspect. It gives you the chance to learn everything first hand and on your own.” Basically what they do is give basic information, like where to find announcements. Then, we leave the meeting and begin the search known as “La Ricerca”.
We have precisely 10 days to find our apartments. We arrived on Monday the 27th and had to be checked out by 11am on Sept. 8th. We scoured the streets and logged onto websites like easystanza and postoletto. We were all hoping that it would be easy. Oh, how we were wrong.
Being from the states means that any sign that says No Erasmus (meaning no foreigners) was a lost cause. Then came my personal favorite part: phone calls. Most of the ads had a phone number on them to call and ask questions and set up appointments to see the apartments. There were people who were very nice and spoke slowly and clearly so I could understand them. Then, there were those who would hang up as soon as I said I was an American. Some just said no Americans.
Thankfully I was one of the lucky ones. I only saw two apartments before I found one that I loved. However, let’s just say the first one I saw was definitely the opposite of what I wanted. It was basically on the opposite side of the city from where I wanted to be. It was also full of heavy smokers. Something I did not really want in an apartment. The people were very nice, but I just couldn’t see myself living with them.
Then the next day, after a couple of orientation meetings, I had an appointment where the people physically didn’t answer their door. I called and the phone said the number had been disconnected. So I gave up and moved on to my next one. This one was on a major street in the Zona Universitá (University Area) and was full of shops and restaurants. The proprietaria (landlady) is a sweet and nice woman who was able to give me the important info in broken English. The place is comprised of three singles and a double. I met the girl who was about to move out in a week or so after she found her own apartment.
I immediately fell in love with the apartment. It’s open and bright. It’s very clean, and well-priced. Then came the catch, in the middle of my appointment, Chelli’s (the landlady) phone rang. It was a girl who had seen the apartment the day before and said she wanted to buy it. Thankfully, Mahsa (the girl who will be moving out) suggested that Chelli call Giulia (the other girl in the double) and ask her who she would prefer. After five minutes of trying to reach her, she finally did. Then, thankfully, Giulia said she would prefer an American over an Italian. Then, somehow, the apartment was mine.
So that basically concludes what I’ve been doing for the past week. So if you haven’t heard from me, that’s what I’ve been up to. So until my next post,