Tales from Italy: ch.3 Carnevale and …classes?

Oh my goodness what a busy last few days!!
To start, my life has been suddenly consumed by making class-decisions. Honestly, at Urbino it is a difficult process (not to mention classes started today and I just redid my entire class repertoire and must now repeat the following process -_-). Unlike the New Paltz system that I’m used to -where all the classes are online alongside their times, locations, professor, and subject- Urbino is not as simple. While in all, making a schedule at New Paltz can be done within an hour or two at the computer, I have attempted to make a schedule with fewer classes at Urbino and it has taken me 3 days. To begin, classes are listed in a Vedemecum- a master course list that if you’re lucky enough (like me) to have on a CD (thank you, Frederica!) is easily accessible. If you do not have the CD, good luck trying to get through the Urbino website which, on some pages, hasn’t updated the Vademecum since 2007. Once you have the Vademecum, you have to start guessing which facolta` (category) you think your class (or classes you may be interested in) falls under. Rather than have all the classes listed together, you have to search through possible facoltas before finding a suitable class. Once you’ve found your class of choice, you are given all the information except location and class time. Here comes the even-trickier process…
Now that you’ve got your list of possible classes, you must now go on a journey to various buildings around the city hoping to find the one that houses your class’s facolta`. Once you’ve found the building (which may end up being another ordeal in itself), you go inside (which sometimes isn’t possible due to odd office hours) and you must find the class schedule, which is fortunately in the same spot (usually in the front hall on a bulletin board) in every building. Yet rather than order the classes by name followed by their time and dates, these schedules work backwards; you must now search through every day and hour hoping to come across your class. Once you have your class times and dates (which are irregular: a class may meet Tuesday at 3, Wednesday at 5, and Friday at 9am), you must now go and repeat the city-searching process for each of your other classes. If you are fortunate enough, more than one of your classes will be in the same facolta` and you can ‘kill two birds with one stone’ when you only have to visit one building and search one class schedule for more than one class.
Today, Alex and I went on this city-searching process for a class we’re going to take, “Storia dell’Arte Bizantine” (Bizantine Art History), which he needs for his Medieval minor and I for my Art Gen.Ed. credit back in NP. We went in circles from one end of the city to the other for 2 hours based on directions given to us by several people before ultimately returning to where we began only to realize that this was in fact the location, but that it is closed on Mondays and therefore prohibits us from looking at the class schedule and times. Oh my goodness was I cranky.
The other 3 classes I plan on taking were easier for me. The Italian for Foreigners class (which all foreign students must take) would be based on a placement exam I had yet to take and therefore could not know my class or its times -yet. The other two classes I planned on, ‘Filologia Romanza’ and ‘Filologia Italiana’ I chose because they sounded acceptable and relatable to my Italian Studies major; I was fortunate enough to find both on the first day of my searching.
Everything changed just a few hours ago though. Today, it dawned on me that since everything is taught in Italian, I could take any class I wanted since no matter what I took it would count towards my Italian major. So, I dropped the two Filologias and have just spent the last 2 hours starting over the entire class-searching process in the hopes of finding more interesting classes. For the first time ever, I have the liberty to take any class I want, and I almost went with 2 of the most boring ones ever! As of now, I am replacing them with (hopefully) Storia del Costume e della Moda (History of Costume and Fashion), Musica per lo Spettacolo (Music of the Show/ Theater), and/or Storia del Mimo e della Danza (History of Mime and Dance). I am ESPECIALLY fond of that last one. I mean really, a class about the history of mimes?! Does it get more liberal and cooler than that? I don’t even mind the additional searching I now need to do all over again.

On a more fun side of the last few days, I’ve been able to visit and see a lot more of the local area. On Thursday, a group of us hiked up to La Fortezza (the Fortress). The views on the way up and at the top were GORGEOUS.

After La Fortezza, I visted the duomo (Cathedral) in town. It was huge (too big for my camera from outside) and beautiful. Unfortunately it’s prohibited to take pictures on the inside, but there are pictures available here. One of the coolest parts about all of this was the amount of Italian I spoke with some of the students we hiked with (Giacomo, from Sicily and Pablo from Peru!).

Another observation I’ve made is on graduation ceremonies. When I first got here, I thought people were just celebrating Carnevale, but actually when a student finishes their last exam, they march through the city with their friends and family and wearing a crown of green leaves. The whole group sings and chants, there’s generally confetti, and sometimes a prank (a graduate was thrown in the fountain the other day).

Oddly enough, my week has also been filled with Harry Potter. Earlier this week, Alex, Laura and I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. We then decided to go rent it in Italian so that we could practice. We watched Harry Potter e La Pietra Filosofia (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) later that week with more people, and since then I’ve even bought the book- IN ITALIAN! Did you know that they changed some of the names to assist with their meanings? For example, Dumbledore is Professor Silente, and McGonagall is McGranite. It’s hard to read for me, but it’s great practice and fun too.
Sunday, I went to Fano for Carnevale! There was a giant parade with huge ridiculous floats- they were stunning!! We all painted our faces and dressed up in costumes- we were quite the handsome group 🙂

(See my Avventure in Italia facebook album for all my pictures from Carnevale -and Italia!)
While at the parade, I was reminded of a German commercial I once watched of a family that was dancing to a horribly derogatory rap song (the message was to learn English; see it here) when I saw a float of school children dancing to the song, ‘Sexy B*****’ by David Guetta. To clarify, there is a lyric in the song that goes: “I’m trying to find the words to describe this girl, Without being disrespectful, Damn Girl, Damn Girl You’se a Sexy B****, a sexy b****, a sexy b****.” While this song is very popular and did play alongside many other hit songs, it’s not quite the song I would choose to have children dance to at a family parade…

I’ve also had the chance to meet up with the professors with whom I’ll be a teaching assistant to. At the moment, the exact schedule is pending since I don’t even know my own yet (and now it’s even worse), but it sounds like I’ll be assisting in English classes, subject classes that are taught in English, and private sessions outside the classroom with individual or small groups of students around the town (so cool!). I’m hoping this will help me make some more friends and then I can practice my Italian too! Today, I got to observe my first TA class-ordeal thingy which was a culture/business class that was taught in English. I got to talk about New York, New Paltz, and my experiences in Urbino so far. Some of the students were eager about the sessions with me outside the class, and I’m really excited!

After my TA thing, I went to go take my placement test for my Italian for Foreigners class. I think I did alright; there were some things I somewhat/ couldn’t remember, and others I didn’t even realize that I DID remember (It’s been 2 years since my last official Italian class). I’m finding out my results in the morning!

Well for now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a big day tomorrow: getting my test results, finding my new classes, getting my Permesso di Soggiorno, and maybe even going to class!

A piu` tardi!

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