Playing Catch-Up

My, my, the last few days have been quite eventful!  The first month’s class is now over, and I have said goodbye to a few friends.  It’s bittersweet because of course I am going to miss them, but on Monday a new group arrives, which means new friends to make and spend time with.  As I have said before, my closest friend here, Andre, is staying as well, so I don’t have to start completely from scratch.

I am quite impressed by how much I learned this month at school.  I think this school does a really great job, and I am excited to keep progressing in my language abilities.  Though it is still difficult to express deep, complex thoughts, I would say that I am already semi-conversational.  Two more months and I will be set!  So that is a really exciting prospect.

Today Emmeline, the Ecuadorian girl with whom I live, is leaving.  She is an… interesting person.  She is a vegan, which means she does not eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.  She feels extremely strongly about animal rights, but is also extremely forceful in the way she talks about the subject.  Well, she is extremely forceful in the way she talks about any subject.  I can get along with just about anyone, but she is definitely not someone with whom I want to form a lasting relationship.  Anyway, every student in our class had to give a presentation on whatever subject they chose.  For example, a few girls played games with the class, some people talked about their home countries, I talked about Thanksgiving, and Emmeline talked about animal rights.  The conversation became quickly heated when she started saying that it is cruel to test drugs on animals and that it would be better if all drugs were tested on humans.  Now this I don’t really understand even in theory, because at the end of the day, humans are animals too.  So the argument was mainly between our teacher and Emmeline, but a few students, including myself, piped in now and again.  When I checked my email a few hours after class, I noticed that Emmeline had written me the nastiest email I have ever received.  It’s not necessary to repeat here, but she basically said that she never wanted to talk to me ever again, and would appreciate it if I never spoke to her again, either.  She went on to say something about how she is morally superior to everyone because she does not eat “corpses”… of course I was furious.  Now you all know me well, and you know that it takes a lot to make me angry.  In fact, I do not even remember the last time that I was angry like that.  So of course the second I saw here I went to talk to her, trying my best to keep a level head so that we could talk things out.  I explained any things in English that might have come across the wrong way in Italian, and in the end she apologized and we are on speaking terms.  In fact yesterday we even walked to school together.  I am glad that we resolved our differences because I don’t like having bad blood exist between me and another person, particularly when I know I will never see them again.  So she is leaving today and that is that.

Yesterday Luciana, the really really sweet lady at school who organizes all the housing, asked to speak with me.  She said that Emmeline had talked to her about Delores, the lady with whom we live.  I always felt a little bad for Emmeline every night at dinner, because not one dinner went by during which Delores did not make some kind of mean or pejorative comment about her eating habits.  Of course her eating habits were not exactly convenient for Delores, but at the end of the day, Delores knew before Emmeline arrived and she is getting paid a lot of money to make sure she eats.  Every evening she would say something about how great all her other students were because they ate everything, and how hard it is for her to find something to cook for Emmeline.  It’s tough to hear every night that you aren’t as well-liked as the other students she has had simply because you happen to have a different diet.  It didn’t really stop at Emmeline, either.  She constantly makes comments about my weight if I don’t eat everything in sight, saying things like I am scared of getting fat, etc.  Emmeline and I also found out that she talks behind our backs a lot– she talks about how much she hates Emmeline to me and how she can’t wait for her to go, and she talks to Emmeline about how much or little I eat and how often I go to the gym.  Also, when the Austrian girls came, she acted totally in love with them because they are beautiful and sweet and absolutely perfect in every way, but the way she would say it suggested that they were the perfect house guests, and we should learn a thing or two from them.  Anyway, all this to say that while I have not been exactly unhappy here, I have not been happy, either.  I think it is an extremely mild case of mental abuse (I say “abuse” for lack of a better word), which even in its mildest form is not acceptable to Luciana.  I never would have asked to move because I don’t spend much time at home anyway (I leave early in the morning and don’t come home until dinner at 8:30), but I think Luciana was worried that it would put a damper on my experience here in Florence.  So yesterday after class she made some phone calls and sent me off to meet another lady named Fiorella, who does the cooking classes for the school.  She lives in a really cute little neighborhood closer to the school, a much better location than where I am now because it is a lot quieter and much safer at night.  I rang the bell, walked up the stairs, and was greeted by the most overwhelmingly sweet, warm, and welcoming woman.  She had a huge smile on her face that you can tell never leaves.  She has a really sweet little apartment with a great little bedroom, which would be mine.  The window is big and faces a really beautiful garden.  She also has another American girl living with her, a girl named Hannah from Sarah Lawrence who is studying here for the year.  She has a huge kitchen with a big table, and is supposedly an excellent cook.  Connie and Sophie took two cooking lessons with her, and they both said that it was an amazing experience.  I told her I loved to cook and she said, “Well, then you will have to help me some nights!  I will teach you all my secrets!”  So, needless to say, I have decided to move.  Luciana said that she will call Delores and make up a white lie to get me out.  I move Monday!  I had the biggest smile on my face the entire day yesterday, thinking about living with Fiorella.  I am so happy!

S0 I know I said that I was going to take a trip every weekend, but this weekend is all rain.  Plus it is Sophie’s last weekend in town, so I guess I will have to find something to do in Florence…. not an arduous task!  I know that there is another gourmet food fair tomorrow, not quite as fancy as the last one but fun nonetheless, so Andre and I have already decided to attend.  As for today, who knows!

Well, I should wrap this up.  To anyone who has actually read this entire entry, double points (and love) to you!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Playing Catch-Up

  1. I always like getting double points 🙂

    Trish, I admire the way you tackle life head-on, maximizing every opportunity for a new experience!

    Thanks for blogging about your time in Italy. I have really enjoyed learning about the culture through you.

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