A week of wrong orders and stunning views.

Well, I survived the first week. Somehow I have to summarize the entire thing now… I need to keep up with this better!

First of all, a bit about Perugia. This is about the coolest city ever. It is absolutely dripping with history (as much of Italy is), and this is weird because everything in the US is so new… it’s impressive if something was built in the 1800s in America, but here, that’s old news. Or, new news, rather. Anyway, we’ve had a couple of tours which have been very informative and helpful, and even more helpful is when we explore on our own. There is always a new alley, a new panorama… there’s SO much to see I can’t even begin to explain.

For almost a week I thought that Perugia mostly consisted of the city center, from which we live about a 7-minute walk from (if we walked faster up the cobblestone mountain that is Perugia, it’d be shorter)… but then today, I saw the rest of Perugia from above, which, although not geographically large the way American cities are, is definitely bigger than I thought, and the buildings all overlap eachother.

We’re learning Italian fast, and we’ve had a week of intensive classes. No one really speaks English here; occasionally someone will surprise us with some broken English but Perugia is not like Rome or Florence where you can hear English if you just ask. Also, they really appreciate it when you just try to speak their language. The first few days, we couldn’t even figure out how to order coffee, and pretty much everything we ordered food- and beverage-wise came back something that we didn’t think we were getting. In general, I’m often surprised by how simply different things are. For instance, store hours are sort of random– well, most stores observe pausa, a break in the day for lunch and a nap, and then they reopen in the afternoon til late evening. In this time, you can basically bet that if you are hungry, you’ll be waiting a few hours or eating pizza. Also, they just sort of do things their way. Because they can. I admire that, how unique everything is, how they don’t feel the need for regulations and uniformity. Sure, America seems organized. But America is also full of a lot of frustrated employees who get a small, unpaid break if they work an absurd amount of hours, and almost no break for shorter shifts. People here are working because they want to, well, sort of– they have to, but they accept that; the gelato man is so friendly, and he loves talking about his gelato. The man behind the counter at the alimentari is so sweet and if you ask for 15 slices of cheese, he so delicately and carefully cuts it that you don’t get the impression he is staring at the clock waiting to go home. In addition, everyone here- even construction workers, butchers, janitors- know how to dress.

My main complaint is that there are too many beautiful men. It is really difficult to look in any direction and see a man that you swoon over and would probably marry simply because he is so beautiful. Everywhere. FRUSTRATING.

I’ve learned a lot already in this short time. I have survived an entire week without talking to my family seven times a day; I have gained a lot of patience just in deciding to go with the flow; I speak enough Italian to get around and carry on basic conversations (VERY basic); and in general, I have found so many things that fill some sort of void in me when in America. I think it is mostly cultural (obviously), but in the way that people here appreciate beauty and neatness and propriety and tradition in a way that many (if not most) Americans do not.

I love watching the old Italian ladies walk their dogs and blatantly ignore the fact that they do their business on the sidewalk (that is actually quite a large problem here). I love watching old men walking arm in arm down the main road. I LOVE the intellectual cafe where funky 20-somethings gather and listen to amazing music and really appreciate the art of it, however “out there” it may be. In general, I’m quite happy, I love the way this town quietly pulses in so many ways, but really lives life. I love how they Perugians embellish their stories because they love this place and want everyone else to love it. They don’t realize how cool it is anyway, without embellishment.

There is a drug problem here; it is, after all, a college town. In addition, because everything is so close together and historic, there is no “ghetto;” everything is all mashed together. At any given time you can see some sort of upperclass businessman, a giggling Italian child, an artsy student, and a homeless man sitting on the same steps or in the same cafe. Yesterday we walked down an alley to see if Ristorante del Sole was open (it wasn’t) and turned around to see a young man with a needle in his arm and blood dripping on his jeans and on the steps he was sitting on. Heroin is a problem here, as are many drugs. Italians like to party, but you know who to avoid– the ones who come to the bar on the nights that parties are advertised in English. These parties target Americans, and these men come to either rob Americans or get the drunk girls to come home with them. My roommates and I, have a common interest in avoiding these parties. Fortunately, there are many wonderful other things to do.

I know I won’t be leaving for quite awhile, but already, thinking about it is upsetting. This is a place that I can very easily call home. There’s an interesting and perfect mix of urbanity, small town familiarity, fashionistas, intellect, tradition, and culture that I know can not be found in every city here. I think of my family and friends often, but I think of them as being here– rather, I picture them here. They’d fit in so well, as I feel I will, when I know the language better. I have definitely adjusted my clothing to not look so American– yes, we dress up EVERY day.

Anyway. We start a full class schedule at 8:45 tomorrow morning so we’ll be going to bed early. That’s all for now… ciao-ciao.


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