Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Orientation: Day 2

1:00AM January 16

Today we had more orientation seminars. The first one was about how to get around and live in Italy, getting along with neighbors, and maintaining the apartments. Afterwards we were treated to another delicious lunch, this time I had an artichoke and arugula sandwich. While eating outside, my roommate Adam and I noticed that oranges were growing on the side of one of the villas. Although they were not yet ripe, it promises to be a pleasant spring with fresh fruit.

In the afternoon we had to meet with more immigration officials, but I had forgotten to bring my original passport to school, so I took my first walk back to the apartment from campus. It took about eight minutes to reach the bottom of the hill (it's pretty steep, but not like anything in San Francisco), and then I spent another twenty-five minutes wandering through the city mostly in the right direction. I overshot my apartment by a block, ending up in the Piazza de San Lorenzo which sits just beyond my building. I was happy that I was able navigate these streets for the first time without looking at a map though, as each block looks quite similar, and street signs are often unclear. Most streets extending more than three blocks change names, sometimes several times.

As I entered the apartment, I found my suitemate Dallas just getting up and heading off to school, having missed the morning seminar. Rather than taking the bus, we decided to walk back up the hill to school as well. A half-hour later I ran into another of my suitemates, John, at campus. It seems he too had overslept the seminar that morning and we vowed to check on each other to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

After showing my passport to the immigration officers, I went to the computer lab to check my email for the first time in several days, only to find it was not working on campus either. In our apartment we do not have internet access. As we were told that morning, the internet in Italy is run by one company with a state-granted monopoly, so they don’t particularly care about providing good coverage because they have your service either way. And apparently if you call and complain enough times they’ll simply shut off your phone lines too. Many of the off-campus apartments are supposed to have internet, but when one of my suitemates inquired about whether we would ever get service at Piazza del Mercato Centrale he was laughed off.

Tonight Adam, John and I decided to make some dinner ourselves, and we went to the store to buy some tomato sauce, buccatini, fresh parmesan, some spices, and a cheap but tasty bottle of wine. We quickly realized that what we thought was tomato sauce was purely crushed tomatoes, as they do not sell ready-made tomato sauce in the grocery store here. We did not think to buy onions or garlic at the time, so our sauce had a very raw tomato flavor, but it has been hard to complain about anything right now in this environment.

After dinner, Adam--who majors in classical clarinet, but also enjoys playing tenor sax--and I decided to jam. It was the first time in several days that I’d touched my guitar. It was a good time, and the first of many I’m sure. We then decided to go check out a place that NYU recommended called “Jazz Club.” Again, showing up to the jazz club at 10:00 was early, so we decided to take a small loop around the Duomo at night. It was the first time we went to see it up close, and it was quite a sight. The building seemed so much bigger up close, its green and white stone detailed with gargoyles and biblical figures. The jazz club itself was a good time, although I can’t say the group was particularly good. All five of my suitemates decided to come, and all were pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed the atmosphere: chatting and listening to some jazz late at night. I’m sure we’ll be back plenty more times.

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