Italian influenza

13 Feb

I am currently writing this from the nest of illness I have created in my bed, having been sick since Sunday. If I haven’t been asleep, I’ve been watching all the bargain DVDs I prised from HMV’s lifeless claws before moving here. The room has finally stopped spinning enough for me to try and get another post out, since my Nonno complained that I haven’t been updating often enough. Also apologies  if there are some sentences which make no sense at all, my brain isn’t back to it’s usual self yet.

In the last couple of weeks I have been generally settling in and trying to get into a routine, which was working out pretty well until I got struck down by this bug. I’ve been on a lot more visits to La Rocca, and it’s fast becoming apparent that this may be one of the few activities to do in Spoleto. I am already looking further afield for other things to do. Rome and Perugia are pretty close, and I’m planning a trip to Milan in March. Most importantly, I’m also deciding what to do for my 21st, which is coming up at the end of next month.

Back to La Rocca, I’ve been told that the creepy old abandoned building next to the aqueduct is actually haunted by the ghost of a girl who died falling into the valley many many years ago, and since then no one has been able to stay in the building for long. If there’s anything I dislike more than ghosts, it’s little girl ghosts. They’re the worst. I will be avoiding this building at all costs.

I’ve decided to stop going to the Italian classes, as even in the upper group, the grammar they’re going through is pretty basic stuff that I did in first year at uni. The other day we did adjectives: the house is big, the car is red, that sort of thing. In one example question it asked whether Stonehenge was more or less mysterious than Easter Island, and being the only English person I had to try and explain just what is so mysterious about Stonehenge. “The rocks are really old…and really heavy…and they come from far away…” didn’t really seem to persuade the rest of the class, who are all Romanian and in their 30s, and prefer to speak Romanian among themselves which leaves me feeling a bit left out.

In contrast, one place I’ve been made to feel really welcome is all the dance classes I’ve been trying. I had a go at jazz, which I haven’t done since I was about 16, and I’ve decided that I’ve long since lost the flexibility to be doing high-kicks and the likes across the room. I’m going to stick with hip-hop which I do with Elena, the daughter of one of the teachers. I also went to an awesome belly dance class where there was live tabla and a didgeridoo player, I can’t wait to go again 😀

One strange thing I’ve noticed both here and in France is that Europeans (by which I mean ‘anyone in Europe not from the UK’, I’m not about to say ‘on the continent’, this isn’t the 1950s) hardly ever drink water when they exercise. In dance classes in England people usually get through a good bottle of water an hour, and there are drinks breaks all the time, whereas here there might occasionally be a brief pause 45 minutes in which I’m the only one who has a drink, and am the only one wearing 1 layer of shirt, everyone else has at least 2?! I always stand out as the awkward Brit who can’t deal with the heat. It’s definitely something to do with the tiny glasses they use here, they’re like camels who have evolved to survive on shots of caffeine instead of pints of water.

I’ve been trying to get on with my year abroad essay, and in my usual style of planning I’ve written an obscenely long plan (about 1/4 of the word count so far) but haven’t managed to get any paragraphs down. I generally write better in the library than at home, so last Monday I set off to Spoleto communal library, with only the best intentions in mind: I was going to stay there for the full opening time, which on Monday is 3.00pm-6.45pm. Oh Italy. Anyway, after taking the bus to Piazza Garibaldi and walking the 15 minutes up through town I got there for opening time, which was apparently too early to expect the library office to actually be open.

I asked a worker how I could go about getting online and she said I’d have to use a card to connect to one of the computers, but to get me the card she’d have to open the office, which would take at least 15 minutes. From what I could see, ‘opening the office’ involved unlocking the glass door and letting herself in.

When I eventually got a card it turned out that I was only allowed 1 hour of internet a day, and that the computer crashed every time I tried to open a pdf document. About 45 minutes in, someone in the nearby staff section decided to microwave something containing fish, and I decided to give up on the idea of ever coming back to the library.

Work aside, I have found a few ways to amuse myself recently, and have been out for many meals with various other children of other teachers. The only problem with making friends here is that anyone my age is only around every other weekend, as they go to university either in Perugia or Rome.

The other young people here are high school age, so up to about 18, but as they have school Monday-Saturday you can’t really go for coffee or do things on a whim. By the way, Italy, no one here likes going to school on a Saturday. The word ‘weekend‘ is fairly self-explanatory isn’t it?

As I’m in a much smaller place than Bordeaux, I’m probably going to have a lot less ‘sights of the day’ to show you, as I’ve pretty much seen everything in Spoleto already. However, I’ll continue to keep you updated on the weird/funny things that happen in everyday life.

1. The first one isn’t funny but it’s BLOODY ANNOYING. Literally. I’ve managed to accidentally cut myself twice already with the non-metaphorical double-edged sword that is my bread knife. Whose bright idea was it to put serrated edges on both sides?! UPDATE: Didn’t finish writing this yesterday, but just to let you know it happened AGAIN when I was trying to get the last out of a loaf of bread for breakfast this morning 😦

2. When trying to explain my tastes in music, which don’t really fit within the Italian standard of either old school classics (Beatles) or modern pop (Coldplay), I have some difficulty making myself understood. Here, if you tell people you like dubstep, their response is always ‘Dubstep…ahhh yes…Skrillex!’ as if Skrillex is the only artist within the genre.

3. Last week I went to get my eyebrows done, and wasn’t sure whether to be offended or happy that the woman offered to wax off my ‘moustache hairs’ for free. I’m now worried that I’ve been living 20 years with a moustache that I didn’t know about and no one told me and THAT’S NOT COOL GUYS. Ironically when I went into school the next day the students were making paper moustaches and I instantly wanted mine back. I guess it’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

Sorry about the lack of photos, it takes a surprising amount of energy to connect my camera to my laptop and click a few buttons. Next time, I promise.

In the classroom:

This is entirely my own fault, and is a word of warning to any other teaching assistants to briefly think through what you’re about to teach before you say it. I was in a year 3 class at Tempo Pieno, and they had been learning body parts so I was asked on the spot to describe a monster which they would draw. I started off with it having 2 heads, then decided it would have a long thin body.

Fairly safe right? NO. Pretty soon after the teacher and I both realised that every student had drawn a penis monster (thankfully they’re too young to notice), and since they hate to restart work we had to do our best to add other body parts to detract from its phallic nature. Adding 3 legs didn’t help at all, and we decided to do away with giving it hair as that would definitely only make it worse. Now all their parents are going to think all English teachers are perverts, and for that, I apologise.

Next up is something I’d actually like people’s input on. Last week I had a debate with one teacher about what the plural of fish is. I argued that the plural of fish is still fish, while the teacher says it’s fishes because that’s what it says in the dictionary. Is it just me who thinks fishes sounds weird? I’m undecided whether it’s best to teach the children what sounds right according to normal English use, or what dictionaries say…

And finally, this post is dedicated to the very pale, dark haired child in one of my classes who looks like Edgar Allen Poe and never says anything, just stares at me intently. I really hope that if you ever do speak, all you say is ‘Nevermore’.



9 Responses to “Italian influenza”

  1. Marino Muntjan February 14, 2013 at 07:16 #

    Hi Louise I didn’t complained but I felt something was wrong with you and as mather of facts I was right anyhow I’m sure that you feel better now as your last report was brilliant!!!!
    keep us informed N N

    • louiseineurope February 14, 2013 at 11:36 #

      Hehe I know you weren’t complaining Nonno don’t worry! I’m feeling mostly better now thankyou, I hope you’re both well x

      • Marino Muntjan February 15, 2013 at 10:28 #

        come va’ con il tuo italiano? Capisci bene e ti comprendono bene o usci
        piu” l’inglese? xx

      • louiseineurope February 17, 2013 at 14:58 #

        Va bene con l’italiano! Capisco bene e provo di parlare solo in italiano 🙂 Ho scelto di andare a Milano perché ho un’amica che sta lì! Il weekend prossimo vado a Lucca e Pisa xx

  2. Marino Muntjan February 15, 2013 at 10:31 #

    sbaglio di tipografia leggi “USI”

  3. tina February 15, 2013 at 13:40 #

    Hi Louise! I couldn’t believe about the fish/fishes adventure…anyone knows that the plural of fish is Fish but…yes The dictionary says “fish or fishes”. Now we have a very big doubt!i hope to solve it quickly.

    • Cecilia February 23, 2013 at 22:07 #

      Sono morta dal ridere a leggere dei baffi e del mostro-pene!

    • Cecilia February 23, 2013 at 22:11 #

      Ichthyologists tend to use “fish” to describe multiple individuals of the same species and “fishes” to describe individuals of different species. Check out this article: “”

  4. Giulia May 25, 2013 at 16:13 #

    OMG! The plural of fish is fish! I’ve just realized it! thank you! haha. I hated going to school on Saturday so much but that’s how it works here 😦

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