Trip Start May 23, 2005
22Trip End Jun 11, 2005
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So, here we are in Parma, Italy. Its funny to realize that for the first time, neither of us speak the language. Bridget looks at me, I look at her, and the shop keeper or the waiter or whatever, patiently rolls his eyes and then either tries English or just waits.
We haven't done much since we got here Saturday night. The train ride was interesting on the way here. We had first class from Paris to Milan, which was great, but from Milan to Parma there is no first class, nor air conditioning. We sat in little cubicles like what they sat in in the movie trading places, with Dan akroyd on new years eve. There was an Italian couple with us, and the girl was very pouty at not getting a window seat, but her boyfriend appeased her with ice cream.
We have a small apartment here with a big balcony. No air conditioning, but a stove and sink etc. Its actually very comfortable and nice, and no bugs in the bed. We are a short walk from just about anything.
Sunday, we followed the same thing that we have done Paris and headed out to dinner around 10pm. But, that is late here. It seems that they eat between 7:30 and 9. So, the owner told us in Italian that he would serve us the antipasto special and that only. So, we figured, ok, we will get some ham, some cold cuts etc. But it turned out to be this 7 course meal similar to tapas, only all fish. We barely recognized anything but octopus and the clams and mussels. I am not a fish person, but I was hungry, and mind over matter, I told myself "its a new country, its all good." MY parents would not have recognized me, as I am sure they are reeling back in shock at this very moment.
FInally, 10 plates later, he sat down with us, asked where we were from, and it was amazing that we were able to communicate with this huge language barrier. LUckily, we had done this instant immersion Italian cd rom the night before, so we recognized some basic words, like the number 2, and banana. Not that they came up, really. Anyway, so Bridget says she is Canadian and I say American, and Bridget volunteers that I have relatives in Sicily. HEe asks where, and she says, "Terranova", which confuses him. Once I realize that she misunderstood, I tell her Palermo, even though I am not sure if that is 100% correct, and he gives us this lemon liqueur, that isn't limoncello, but is very good in honor of my heritage. It was nice, cause so far this trip I have been mistaken for just about every heritage under the sun except for Italian. In Paris, this older gentleman with a roving eye tried to speak to me in Polish, and then talked to Bridget in French to try to get her to introduce us. Anyway, I had a creamy granita\sorbet for dessert, and Bridget had 5 baby cannolis, of which I ate 2 or maybe 3. They were the best canolis I have ever had (sorry everyone else who's canolis I have eaten) they were covered in powdered sugar and a little chocolate sauce mmmm, so so good.
We have also survived a trip to the grocery store and managed to order fresh cheese and meat. Its funny to see all these Italian brands and fancy bottles of honey and olive oil and they are so cheap here. We made sure to buy olive oil, cheese and bread sticks, and we snack on them every night.
We started class yesterday, and it takes all my energy to try to understand our guest professor who had a think Italian accent. We learned about competition law or anti trust law. It was pretty interesting-mostly due to the fact that they can not say anything derogatory about another's product, even if it is true. So, no Pepsi challenge over here. They have to just talk about themselves. If only our political system would follow this example.
Bridget and I are secretly very angry at our American professor, as he did nothing to tell us where to go for class. Apparently, he ran into one group of students and told them where to meet, but never felt the need to make the effort to pass the message on to everyone. We wandered this huge building for almost a half hour before we stumbled upon a sympathetic professor who spoke English who took us to the right place. I have never seen Bridget so angry. He invited us to dinner, but Bridget didn't want to eat with him until she had forgiven him, so we took home a pizza. We also got to see people taking their exams. Basically, he calls a person to the front of the room, and interviews them for a half hour on the law course they just took. they are rated by 2 or 3 professors, and are told immediately if they passed of failed. If they fail, they are bumped to the bottom of the line, and are able to go again. I think I would prefer a test like that...
So, once again,I have babbled on and on. We are on our way to learn about labor law, and then to explore a cathedral or two, before they close at 7. I hope all is well, please send news of home, I feel so out of touch!!! All I really know from the states is that Paris Hilton got engaged to her boyfriend Paris, which frankly, is less then fascinating but I can only imagine Conan 0'brien's jokes about it. Talk to you soon.