Tales from Italy- ch. 2: Erasmus
To start, some things I forgot to mention in my last post:
1- the first street Alex and I decided to walk down since coming to Italy we discovered was called Via del Morte (Street of Death). What a welcome!
2- The oranges here are produced by a company called “Oraninja” and their sticker is a picture of the red ninja turtle poking a straw into an orange! I couldn’t get a good picture of the sticker I kept, so here’s a picture of their truck that I found on the internet!
Since then I’ve managed to accomplish a lot of things.
For one, I got my codice fiscale, which is basically like an Italian Social Security number. It’s like I’m a real citizen, except not at all!!
I also opened an Italian bank account. This way I can avoid all those annoying international fees and hopefully save some money in the end (Otherwise I’d be paying $5 at every ATM and have AT LEAST 3% tax on everything). The coolest part about this is that on the day that I changed my money, I’m pretty sure the currency rate changed again in my favor. I deposited $2000 dollars into my new account which, earlier this week would’ve gotten me about 1330 euros or so… but I got 1420 euros! That’s 90 more than I expected!!! So it was obviously quite a moment for me 🙂
The only difficult thing about depositing money into this account is that I have to give them cash. Withdrawing from the ATM here isn’t an option since I can only withdraw 250 euros at a time, and each transaction costs me $5 in international fees which would add up to be quite costly in the end. I also can’t write them a check (though I still don’t understand this). So in the end, I ended up putting 5 euros in (which is all I had on me at the time) and then the next day Frederica took me to her bank where I wrote her a check (her idea) for $2000 which she cashed right there for me into euros through her own account. It was very nice of her to do. After that I took my 1420 euros (^______^ still really happy about that) to the post office (which oddly enough is my bank) and put it into my new account! How cool, right? An Italian bank account!!
To explain the post office thing, I’ve learned that not all the places here work the same. For instance, the post office also works as its own bank called “Postepay.” This is where I have an account (and its extra cool because my card is bright yellow). Likewise, the Tabbachi (tobacconist) also works as a bar, and that’s also where I go to buy minutes for my phone. Strange, right?
That same day, I bought a set of stamps, so now I can send postcards!
Over the last week, it’s been the Italian Carnevale; it’s their equivalent of Mardi Gras. Last night was the big finale I guess, and everyone was dressed up in costumes and dancing outside. It reminded me a lot of halloween, but for excited adults 🙂
That night we went out dancing (where I met the Mario & Luigi couple above). The DJ there is supposedly the guy I’m supposed to talk to about joining the radio here. I really wanted to talk to him that night, but with the music so loud and my Italian not so great yet, it would’ve been a little difficult to communicate. I’ll have to keep trying though!
Yesterday, after depositing my lovely 1420 euro, I met up with Alex. We wanted to go to Voda phone again to maybe switch our plans, but we don’t actually know yet if that’s more economical for us. On our way back, Alex stopped at a winery to get a bottle opener after having realized he bought a bottle of wine, but couldn’t open it. The first winery we went to sold cavatappi (bottle openers) for 3,50 euro (<<euros switch the . and , so 3.50 is actually written as 3,50). Alex didn’t have cash so we went to the bank. We passed a different winery after the bank, and Alex tried there instead. The guy claimed to not sell bottle openers, but as we headed out, he asked if it was a bottle opener as a gift, or one just for Alex. Alex said just for himself and explained his dilemma, to which the guy replied, ‘You can’t have a bottle of wine and no bottle opener!’ So he gave Alex one for free. Gotta love Italians.
After our cavatappi gratis (free bottle opener) we passed by a store called Ars Nova Laboratorioartioianale (I have no idea what that means). Anyway, this store was EXACTLY like the Groovy Blueberry back in New Paltz. I told this to the guy at the counter and he was very excited to hear that there could be such a store like his in New York.
That afternoon, Laura and I went into town in search of something nice to wear for the evening since we planned on going out. Despite our lack of success, we did stop at Romana and had our first Italian gelatos. She had coffee-flavored and I had Nutellosa (nutella-flavored) and somthing that looked and tasted like brownie batter. MMMmmmmmm so good.
That night, we all went out with the Erasmus students (students studying abroad from Europe) and socialized. They’re a very friendly bunch and extremely helpful with adjusting. Around them, I hear a lot of German, and they said they’d teach me some German this semester outside of classes! I’m really excited. I’ve never been that fond of the sound of German, but after having been around it so much over the last few days, I’d like to start learning 🙂
Today I had planned on going to visit Rimini, a small coastal town about an hour away, to do some shopping and sight seeing since we have much better weather. In April, I’ll be heading back there for the European Ultimate Frisbee tournament!!! I can’t wait!!
However, I ended up staying here with the intention to save a bit of cash and to actually pick out classes since I’m meeting Frederica to locate them tomorrow at 11.
The better weather has allowed me to open my window. This is making me really happy since my room smells like airplane and jet fuel I guess from my luggage. I bought a lavender airfreshener the other day, but I can’t tell if it’s helping or making it more putrid. In another attempt, to my discovery, there’s actually a small vase for oil that someone left hanging from my radiator. Alex said we could make an airfreshener out of orange shavings and water. Since we couldn’t shave the orange, I just put in orange peel and water. Unfortunately now the little vase smells like vomit. Just another reason I’m so happy to have my window open today.
The weather also brought Luke, Maura, and the Spanish guy (who’s name I still can’t spell OR pronounce!) outside. They’re spending a lot of time together today since Maura goes home tomorrow. I looked out my window briefly while writing this only to find Luke scaling one of the trees outside my window and Maura and our Spanish friend throwing a soccer ball at him. It was really funny.
A piu` tardi! (Until later!)