I’m in Bologna! After over a week of watching my friends’ blogs and Facebooks explode with pictures and anecdotes from their time abroad, I can finally say I too am abroad! I flew with a friend from Chicago O’Hare to Dusseldorf, where our flight from Dusseldorf to Bologna was promptly cancelled due to a “snowstorm” (it looked like there was maybe an inch of snow on the ground). But everything worked out and we flew Dusseldorf to Munich and then Munich to Bologna. The flight to Bologna was filled with Italians—a good sign that Bologna would be filled with Italians and not American tour buses. Our taxi ride from the airport to Hotel Holiday was notable only because not only did the taxi driver drive crazily (typical Italian), but he actually cut off a police car and then raced past it.
This morning we had an orientation (which I was almost late for because my new alarm clock either didn’t go off or just didn’t wake me—Thanks for waking me up, Kelly!!) and met the other members of our group. There are about 30 of us here and everyone is super eager to explore the city and practice (and laugh at) our Italian. And the city! Though yes, it does have a faintly garbage-tinged air, the city is beautiful. From my hotel, you walk out of a tall and skinny doorway onto a street small enough to be an alley. There are pigeons everywhere and some Italian pre-teens are feeding some of them and laughing. A few blocks down you come to a larger street where all the European cars, busses, and busses attached to cables narrowly miss each other and pedestrians. Fortunately, on these larger streets, porticos hanging over the sidewalk protect pedestrians.
The sidewalks are crowded with people—not just the young students and few professors one sees in Madison, but also high school students, parents, and many older people. On almost any street you can see two older women walking arm in arm wearing thick fur coats. And although it is cold here, almost every shop has its doors flung open to the street (picture Urban Outfitters on State street with it’s doors flung wide to the 30 degree Fahrenheit weather). Not only are the doors open, many cafes and pizza places still offer seating outside, and people actually sit there! And eat! In the cold! I can’t include everything, and my Internet is down so I’ll have to post this later when I’ll think of even more things. But what I can say with conviction is that every street in this city is filled with character. The apartments are all red, with their infamous red roofs. The people are… not exactly friendly, but they are interested in the girl taking pictures of them, and wondering why I’m in such a very “Italian” city. And there’s graffiti on everything. I’ll leave you with a picture of a courtyard in one of the University of Bologna’s academic buildings. Buona notte!