Yes, it’s been a few days (already!) since I was able to get to write something up and have the appropriate time to do so. I know that sounds odd, because it would seem like I’d have all day long to myself but so far it isn’t the case.
My typical day so far is waking up around 6:30, getting ready for the day, eating breakfast, and leaving for the school around 8:20 to arrive early before it starts at 9am. It is not far of a walk but I go every day with Fred, the older gentleman I share the apartment with, and because he’s disabled it takes him a lot longer. Anyway, I’m in class from 9 – 1pm. Usually I eat lunch somewhere in town and that takes until about 2 or 2:30pm. The first day I used the internet in the afternoon, the second day I had homework to do which I did right away before I went to my first cooking class. Wed. I went on a short trip to a town nearby (more on that later). By the time all is said and done, it is late and the school is closed. I’d have to go to an internet café to use the internet and quite honestly, jet lag has caught up with me. Last night I was falling asleep by 10:30 (and you know that’s early for me!).
So in a nutshell:
First day of class. I was placed in the ‘easy’ class and it was still useful reviewing things I already knew. I was feeling deprived of the internet and spent a long time on it that afternoon. Also, I realized that I didn’t have an electric converter for my computer plug! I’ve been using my computer sparingly for this reason also. I keep trying to go to a couple electronic stores to either buy a converter or the part of the cord that’ll connect to the wall here…and always they’re closed. Ugh.
That evening I went to the grocery store (that was an experience in itself – more on that to come) and cooked dinner for Fred and myself. He enjoyed it a lot and said that was the best meal he’d had for dinner since arriving last week. I feel bad for him – he’s 70 and doesn’t get out much because this apartment is ‘far away’ for him to walk to any restaurants. He’s got a prosthetic leg which significantly hinders him, though I give him credit that he still does a lot with himself. He came to Italy from Scotland by himself and has been coming here for 8 years. That says something! We talked a lot that evening, as it turns out we do every night.
I had a new teacher in the more challenging class, and this is definitely where I should be placed. It is absolutely my level. The teacher, Danny, is my age and is super animated and jokes around a lot. That makes it super fun and certainly keeps my attention for 4 hours. If he was playing Pictionary, he’d be far be the winner because he knows how to act out and draw things quite well! It was a wonderful first day, though I had a lot of HW to keep me busy to catch up with what the others did the day before. I was exhausted afterwards. I forgot how the combination of jet lag and trying to translate every little thing in your head is tiring!
It got more tiring that evening as I went to my first cooking class! The classes are held in some woman’s home (I didn’t even catch her name!) but she picks up whomever is going to be cooking at the school at 5:45 and brings them to her home. There was myself and a guy named Soskay (sp.?) from Japan who was taking them. I understand that this woman used to open her home to host students like myself but now just does the cooking portion. She speaks completely in Italian. She knows some English with a very heavy accent and was extremely patient and kind. She was impressed I could speak as much as I could. Soskay mostly does what she models and doesn’t say much. It’s okay – I can’t imagine learning Italian from knowing Japanese. It’s quite a contrast.
The menu was making potato gnocchi, meat sauce, and a dessert. I was in heaven knowing I’d get to see the potato gnocchi being made because I’ve only made the kind with ricotta cheese instead (which she claims they never do here in Italy) so this was something I’ve wanted to know how to do. I was most impressed how she rolled them on the fork…and I struggled! 🙂 The machine to cut the potatoes into small shreds was neat.
The meat sauce contained ground beef, Italian sausage, and chicken livers. It had finely cut up vegetables and freshly diced tomatoes…some olive oil, some spices, and that was it. Not the tomato based sauce my mom makes. It was good though!
The dessert was a nut/fruit dessert. Basically it was a cake made from scratch with almonds on the bottom, topped with finely sliced pears with brown sugar. It was pretty good too!
After we are done w/ the meal preparation, we eat with this woman and her family. Her husband came home from work just as the meal was done (very typical of Italian homes) and her son was there too. We had other items too – green beans in balsamic vinegar and some herbs which were delicious, some other vegetable dish (or maybe it was mashed up beans?) with onions and another vegetable, a kind of bruschetta made from scratch, and fruit salad for dessert. YUM! I definitely don’t get that at home!
After the meal, she dropped off Soskay and I. He won’t take them again because he’s been here a couple weeks, and it appears I’ll be the only one taking advantage of it for a few weeks at least. Fabulous experience though!
I was knocked out cold in my sleep as it was a lot in one day – especially keeping up with the conversation in the cooking class. That wiped me out.
Today was a bit easier for hearing the language for me. I guess it’s all starting to sink in being completely into it.
I was going on a day trip to a town ~1.5 hours away called San Gimignamo. The school organizes such trips frequently from what I gather, and they try to come up with different things like this to expose us to Italian life. Anna Paola is the director of the school, and her retired dad becomes the driver/tour guide for such excursions. I was surprised that I did as well as I did understanding him because he spoke no English, and between myself and the other 3 that went (Pansy, Richard, and Fred) we did well! It was a beautiful hilltop town that has been invaded by tourists but has some of the most amazing views of Tuscany I’ve ever seen! I fell asleep on the ride home but enjoyed myself.
I just bought a power adapter for my computer – SO exciting! I have been without one since I got here, though I used one of the school’s on Monday. I’ll now feel better spending a little bit more time on the internet.
Tonight is my 2nd cooking class. We’ll be making eggplant parmesan – mmm! I wanted to when I was in Rochester with my friend Jeff’s mom, but it didn’t work out. I’m so glad I get to now!
All in all, things are going well and I’m adjusting pretty well to being here. I remind myself daily what an amazing opportunity this is and how fortunate I am to have had the means to do so.