In my first week here, the same question keeps coming up- perché studi italiano? In English, why do you study Italian?
After a long 12 hours of traveling, I finally arrived in Bologna and unfortunately discovered my luggage had been lost. Challenge one: understand and describe my baggage to the woman at the lost baggage counter with one caveat: do it all in Italian. It definitely would have helped to have a picture, but as far as I know, she said my bag would arrive tomorrow.
This semester is going to be full of challenges. Some are obvious, like taking all of my classes in Italian and finding an apartment with Italian roommates. Others are unanticipated and for now, range in gravity from: not knowing how to order a coffee to having to call six people (in Italian) in order to track down my luggage and finally receive it three days late. Everything I do here is extremely rewarding. Each little challenge I overcome, each time I manage to successfully communicate in garbled Italian, I feel like I’ve accomplished the equivalent of a major milestone back home. Correctly ordering “un café” this morning felt like I had just passed my driver’s license test.
So why have I decided to translocate to Bologna for a semester? Italian is not exactly the most useful language I could learn. It seems like most people in my program are learning Italian because they have Italian heritage; I’m approximately 0% Italian, especially in looks. Learning Italian has all of the benefits of learning any other second language, but something about Italian is special to me; it’s beautiful. I’m discovering a new culture and learning about my own through the lens of Italian culture. I’m thinking in a different way and getting an international perspective. I am excited to spend the next six months here, and maybe someday I’ll have the opportunity to live here more permanently.
My next challenge: somehow secure a place to live.