Ciao from Viterbo (pronounced “vee-tear-bo” I learned)! The first few days have been a whirlwind. I’m pretty sure I have experienced every possible emotion since Monday. Anxious (on the way to the airport), sad (saying goodbye), the “what in the world have I done?” emotion (walking by myself to the terminal), happy and loved (reading notes from friends and family on the plane), proud (for locating the correct gate in the Chicago airport… a big accomplishment for me), eager (15 hours travel time = lots of time to think about what is to come), hopeful (meeting friendly study abroad students on the group flight), exhausted (sleeping for a total of 15 minutes on all three flights combined = not the most cheerful Hannah), excited… yet overwhelmed (first Italian meal served: three different types of bruschetta, three different types of pizza [each piece bigger than my head] and some sort of yummy chocolate dessert), lonely (not proud to say I was the biggest baby on the first night), ecstatic (when a cute Italian offered to show us a café with wi-fi, and I got a hold of mom through Skype!), satisfaction and contentment (after finally moving into the apartment, taking a much needed hot shower, and climbing into bed).
Today I had my first Italian breakfast: a croissant with jelly and pineapple juice. We then had orientation and were taken to our apartments. Everyone lives in different apartments, all over the city. We have a three bedroom apartment and I was assigned my own room (so lucky!). You can walk out onto a balcony from my room and it overlooks a cute little flower shop below! I can also see the city and older, medieval buildings with my view. It is freezing and so dark in the apartments since electricity costs so much money here. Italians only leave the heat on for a few hours a day we were told, and never at night. Walking up the stairs to our apartment building is also a bit scary since all lights are to be turned off, unless extremely necessary, to save money.
We were taken on a tour of the city today and I wanted to stop every 30 seconds to take pictures, but I figured I have the next four months to explore and take pictures, so I kept my camera in my bag and just took the city in. Every corner you turn looks like a set from a movie. Cobblestone streets, colorful orange, pink and yellow buildings with clothes hanging out to dry, rows and rows of vespas, and beautiful, old, medieval buildings and houses with numerous pots of beautiful flowers leading down their staircases.
For dinner we went to a pizzeria (there is one about every thirty steps you take here). It was my first time looking at an Italian menu. When we sat down, we were each brought a glass of white wine. It was so funny to be served wine, since I am only 20 years old. I ordered penne pasta. The waitress spoke Italian only, so it was a bit hard to communicate. When I didn’t finish all of my meal, she looked very confused and asked me if it was good. I said yes, good! She then asked, in Italian, if it was good, why didn’t you finish it? I rubbed my stomach and said “very full” (I REALLY need to learn some more Italian) and she said “Ahhh, si!” She then rubbed her stomach, and laughed, saying “peliculo!” meaning tiny, followed by an “expanding” hand gesture… which I think meant I need to expand my stomach for all of the Italian food. I at first questioned why Italians are not incredibly large, considering the amount of food they serve and consume, but then I quickly realized, after two days of walking absolutely everywhere, they get plenty of exercise.
Well, I better try to get some sleep. Ciao!
P.S. One of the most important things I learned today: Italian cars DO NOT stop. They do not care if they hit you, so watch out!