September 5-9, 12-14, 2016: Those Preterm Blues

So I find myself trying to strike a balance between hanging out with friends and being by myself. I know the whole point of preterm was to make friends, and now that I have found friends, I want to be alone. You don’t really know the joys of solitude until you don’t have it anymore. And soon enough, I’ll be getting a new roommate. Yeah, I’m kind of antisocial. But I think of it this way: it’s a sign that I finally feel comfortable enough here to call it home, where I can just lounge around all day without feeling bad about not using every moment to go sight seeing, cause that is an exhausting lifestyle.

The real inner conflict is that I feel lonely here and yet I value my loneliness. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so lonely in my life before, because I’m living all alone (for some reason, I thought that I wanted to live alone, I was wrong) and then I go to class for 6 hours a day and after that I want to do nothing more than put on a movie or something. I think it also has to do with coming here straight from Japan, not seeing my friends or family back home, and going from seeing all my friends in Japan everyday whom I came to really like, to not seeing any of them. I also feel a little isolated having been bumped up to a higher class, because my old class was very tight knit. So to sum up, there is this fine distinction between being alone and being lonely–and I like the former, but am feeling the latter and it’s a hard balance to find.

Class is not very difficult, it’s just Italian. But nonetheless, I have found a way to stress myself out. I am stressed out planning weekend trips. Because we only have so many weekends before school starts and who knows how busy we’ll be then? Now is the time to take advantage of preterm and travel. It is difficult trying to plan multiple trips at once. We really have to go a week at a time. I don’t even know where to go. I’m open to going anywhere because I haven’t seen most of Europe. And then there’s a question of how far we should go it’s just stressing me out planning because everyone is eager to book right away, but I feel like they aren’t adequately planning. There are people who like to relax and just wing it on vacation. I am not one of those people. I don’t like to relinquish control. I like a well planned itinerary. That’s the perils of being an organized person.

I especially feel like I have to take advantage of preterm because I made the mistake of not taking advantage of first term covered grades at Hopkins. It’s the same idea. Our grades are just pass/fail in preterm. And the students here don’t understand that. They’re stressed over studying. And I refuse to study. I studied freshman year and what did it get me? Nothing. I got the same grade I would’ve gotten if I hadn’t studied. Instead we have to take advantage of this gift of covered grades. Won’t make the same mistake twice.

The final exam for Italian was two parts. There is the elementary part, for our grade. Then there is the intermediate part to see if you can place into a higher level class during the semester. The intermediate was actually a little difficult. You had to make inferences from the reading passages to answer the questions. But I did alright, save for some stupid mistakes. I still can’t believe I forgot the opposite of first (it’s last). But my brain stopped working and I guessed second. Not my proudest moment. Here is the view from the terrace at school.

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There is a butcher around the corner from my apartment, and I have been wanting to go inside and buy some meat. There is not much meat in the supermarkets. And all of the meat you do find is quite small. Not an American sized portion. Anywho, I feel a little intimidated by the butcher. I wouldn’t know what to ask for in English, let alone in Italian. But one day, desperate for protein, I mustered up the bravery to go in (with a buddy). And the butcher was very kind and helpful. When I didn’t understand what he was saying he brought out two pieces of meat, one with a bone, and one without to help translate. I bought some pork (without the bone), and it was roughly the same price as the meat in the supermarket.

Everyone in Bologna has dogs. And no one in Bologna picks up after their dogs. They bring their dogs, big and small, everywhere they go. Even into restaurants. It is super unhygienic. That would not pass in the United States. So always watch where you’re walking.

There are fruit vendors everywhere. They are like the equivalent of finding a bodega in New York.  They’re that comment. But their selection is limited to fruits and vegetables and some other food products. But don’t touch the fruit. You have to ask them generally to get it for you. You tell them how much you want–either by weight or by number. But I can’t really visualize fruits in kilos, so I always go with the number for hand fruits and I haven’t gotten fruits like grapes. The two on my block never look that good, and when they have good looking bananas they’re expensive. But there are a few cheap ones by school that have very good fruits.

I’ve been to aperitivo at Lab 16 several times. It has now become an extension of the SAIS campus because you will always find SAIS students there. They have the most extensive buffet there. The food is not the best, but it has the most variety. It is entirely outdoors, so maybe now that it is getting colder, we’ll spend less time there. I also like Le Stanze for aperitivo. It used to be a private chapel for a powerful Bolognese family. There are these cool murals on the wall with tromp l’oeil effect. They give the impression it is still under renovation with some ladders, but they’re clearly not working on it. It’s just a cool atmosphere.

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One Friday night, I went to a concert at a caffe on my block called Bravo Caffe. The lead singer of Hiatus Kaiyote came to little old Bologna! She was amazing. She has this great jazzy, soul voice. And she is just really cool. I said ciao to her and she said ciao back. She came within a few inches of me, within touching distance. We didn’t make a reservation because I never even thought to. I’ve never seen anyone in this caffe before, so I didn’t think we’d have to. But it was packed. We stood near the back. Her brother opened for her and he was alright, kind of a typical white guy with a guitar. His sister is thankfully more unique. I didn’t go to sleep until around 2am, and then had to wake up at 5:30 to go to Cinqueterre.

 

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