Upon landing in the Bologna International Airport, I was greeted by my advisor, Monica, for my placement at Experience Plus! Cycling, in Forli’. The sun had just set and I felt as though I was walking right into the unknown wonders of Italy. Peculiar alleys, farms and towns zoomed past me while on the auto strada (highway). In the long stretch from Bologna to Forli’, I finally arrived.
Even then, the facet that I was going to be living in Forli’ for the next three months had not quite hit me. I was pleasantly surprised to meet my family late on arrival day. Mi madre e Manuela, mi padre e Lucca and mi fratello e Alessandro. I was able to greet them simply with “Ciao,” (Hello), “Piacere” (Nice to meet you), “Como stai?” (How are you?) and “Va been!” (Doing well).
My first dinner was incredible, although typical to the “normale” (average) Italian: prosciutto, pomodoro con mozzarella, paine, and risotto con .Il ciba e gusto! It is typical here to bere (drink) espresso. I must say that the expression stands true that Italians do drink a lot of espresso. I ave come to learn in the last few days that espresso is like a way of life, as well as waking up early and being “veloce” (fast) in the morning (mattina). The sun usually rises before I do (around 6 am), over the beautiful hillside. The mornings are hazy with fog that looms one the frost. Soon winter will be wearing away into la primavera (spring).
My first official day at my work was the day after I arrived. I felt energized after a restful night since I became extremely tired from the long flight over. On the first day I met all of the staff: Silvia, Massimo, John, Igor, Bea, Micele and Stephania. My work includes creating and reworking templates and itineraries for the upcoming season’s cycling tours throughout Europe. I work with tour scripts for Italy, Belgium, Spain and France. While typing and formatting the tour days, I always imagine myself bicycling through these countries on my own road bike. Each tour I work on, my mind runs wild with dreams of one day being able to cycle hundreds of kilometers through cities, seasides, county sides, castles, mountains and farmlands.
For the last few days I have been able to pick up numerous words and expressions in Italian. Every day is around 10 new words if not more. I have incorporated Italian into my studies. Being fully immersed in the language all the time is boosting my skills in speaking and writing it. At work I am beginning to communicate a little bit in Italian (yet there are able to speak rather good Inglese). At home I am constantly speaking broken Italian with my family that speaks equally as good English, as I speak Italian. When words cannot translate between us, Manuela usually grabs for the “Italiano-Inglese” book of translations. (I have my own borrowed copy of “English-Italian”). We often break out into laughter when we all panic to translate or say a word that does not properly translate (senteur means feeling, not taste, like it does in French. French has been rather useful).
The first few days, of course are exciting. I cannot wait for the days to come and see where my work takes me. It is a breath of fresh air in Italy and just the beginning.