How do you say “Homesick” in Italian?

When I first moved into my apartment, I felt my first wave of homesickness. Bologna is no longer a summer camp where my American friends and I eat out every day and party every night with no consequences. Moving into my apartment, I was suddenly alone. Suddenly putting sheets on my own bed, trying to ask how to use the washing machine, using my brand new grocery store membership, and making my own espresso (which I’m very proud of!). My new friends are scattered across the city and we’re all in the awkward transition of trying to both practice our Italian with our roommates, and also wanting to spend time with people with whom we can easily speak. This past Tuesday I chose classes. I’ll be taking two classes at University of Bologna with Italian students and two classes through the Bologna Consortial Studies Program. One of my classes at University of Bologna is a literature course and I am terrified of all the reading I will have to do.


Fortunately, my new roommates have been very welcoming and helpful. They’ve gotten used to me hovering around the kitchen with my Italian-English dictionary in hand and they patiently ask me questions about my day. The second night after I moved in, they invited me to play a card game with their friends and eat birthday cake. To imagine living with Italian roommates, pretend you’re meeting the parents or friends of your significant other, or maybe just meeting a new group of friends. These people have history—inside jokes, old anecdotes, etc.—and it is of the utmost importance that they like you. You don’t want to say anything stupid. Now imagine that there’s no way you can avoid saying something stupid, because you barely speak their language. Doesn’t that sound intimidating? Speaking is the most harrowing part of my day.

This is the kitchen where my roommates and I drink tea or espresso, and play card games.
This is the kitchen where my roommates and I drink tea or espresso, and play card games.

Understanding what’s happening in my apartment is especially difficult because two of my roommates are from Sicily and one is from Sardinia. Italy has countless “dialetti” that evolved from Italian and are infused into a region’s speaking style. Often, the roommates from Sicily can’t even understand what my roommate Erika is saying because she uses Sardinian words or phrases uncommon to Dante’s Italian. They ask (in Italian), “If we can’t understand you, how can she?” and point to me. I can only shrug helplessly.

This weekend will be a bit of a break from the Bologna student life; BCSP is sponsoring a pasta-making event and then on Sunday some of my American friends and I are taking the train to Parma for the day. Parma is the birthplace of Parmesan Reggiano cheese and Parma ham, so it’s bound to be a good time. Ideally the excitement will stop me from freaking out about my UniBo (University of Bologna) classes that start on Monday. Eek!

2 thoughts on “How do you say “Homesick” in Italian?”

  1. Dear Grandma,
    Thanks for the comment. I’m so happy you’re following along on my adventures! I took a lot of pictures during our “agriturismo” trip today where we learned to make pasta and tasted wine. I’ll take more pics in Parma tomorrow and then I’ll post them on this blog. Thanks for the well wishes!

  2. Dear Gracie, Thanks for the pix, much easier to imagine you in your new digs.
    Love the bedspread, kitchen looks friendly. I have Bologna set on my accu weather site so we check on your weather daily. Have fun in Parma, learn the secret of turning out smooth, silky pasta dough. As far as classes starting, – eek is very good, its why your’re there. Love gr and gr McD.

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