I am here.
I am in Italy.
It’s such a bizarre feeling, it feels like yesterday I was flying to Spain and musing about how long I had to wait before I went to Italy. Leaving at an ungodly hour yesterday morning, I met up with my friend April (she, Maria and I are doing the same placement, to clarify) at the airport and we began a very interesting journey to Mirandola. Stansted was packed (as it always is) but we managed to sit down for some breakfast before boarding the plane. Far be it for me to criticise Ryanair, but after walking all the way to our gate and finding ourselves at the front of the queue, they promptly moved our gate to the other side of the airport. Fantastic. The majority of the people on our flight were Italians, and it is safe to say they don’t have much of a grasp on the art of queueing. When we got to the actual gate, it was carnage. After 10 minutes trying to board, we were on the plane and already knackered! Being the nice person that I am, I didn’t take any pictures of April having a snooze, but I did take some pictures of our first glimpse of Italy!
Upon landing, we went into the tiny baggage reclaim at Bologna airport and promptly stood at the wrong carousel. A great start. Eventually, we had all our bags and headed out to our next challenge – finding the bus to the train station. After running round looking for the information desk, they told us it was just outside the doors. You couldn’t miss it (unless you were us). So began the difficult task of manoeuvring our many, very heavy bags without the help of a trolley. Somehow we made it onto the bus and got a glimpse of Bologna as we were taken to the station. The less that is said about the station the better I think. We managed to get ourselves to the train after about twenty minutes of trying to lug our bags with us, just on time to settle down and begin the journey to Mirandola. The journey gave me a chance to coordinate a strategy for getting everything OFF the train again in the small amount of time it was stopped. It was very technical. I stood on the platform and April threw the bags at me. Us 1, Bags 0.
We were immediately met by our Italian families in a flurry of ‘ciaos’, kisses and exclamations at how many heavy bags we had. We know guys, we don’t travel light. Having spent the whole journey to Italy terrified that I had forgotten every bit of Italian I had ever been taught, I suddenly found that I COULD understand and I COULD respond to questions asked. Winning. I think it will take time to be fully immersed into the language, but it’s already starting to work! We drove from the station, to my family’s (beautiful) house, parked up and began the task of getting everything up to my room. They left me there to rest but I had neither the energy nor the want to begin unpacking, and headed downstairs for some lunch.
The next few hours were a blur of Italian as people came round and everyone chatted about Mirandola at the dinner table. I sat and listened to as much as I could in my tired state. Sono stanca, sono stanca! Eventually, I retired to my room to unpack and speak to my parents, but was soon joined by my new little brother who wanted to show me his and his brother’s favourite song, which to my delight, was Shake it Off! My love for a bit of Taylor Swift is well documented. We had a dance round my room as he helped me unpack and then watched Spongebob. I think he likes me and naturally we are already best friends.
After a lovely dinner, the best Parmeggiano Reggiano I have ever eaten, a few glasses of wine and the Lincolnshire Poacher I brought with me going down a treat, I was sent to bed to relax and get some well-earned sleep!
This is possibly the longest post I have ever written but SO much has already happened in such a small space of time! This morning I was invited by April’s Italian parents to go for a bike ride around the town so we could find the schools we are teaching at and the gym etc. It was so much fun, and being out on a cold, sunny day was fantastic. I even have a lovely old fashioned bike with a basket on to ride everywhere – I felt like I was in Call the Midwife riding around the town!
We are heading out for a walk around the town so I can get my bearings and find out more tonight, and I already know that these are going to be five of the best months of my life!
Francesca (not Cesca anymore, sono italiana)