I stepped into Italy right at the beginning of winter. My first impression was quite weird. I mean, in India, when we see some white people walking through the streets of the old city on the lanes in Agra’s Meena Bazaar, there were at least twelve eyes staring at them, asking them for selfies. But it wasn’t the same here. No Italian asked me for selfies.
The first surprises:
Jokes apart, the roads aren’t very black or not even very much like roads here. The pavements are nicely laid with the stones covering the entrances of some houses next to the roads. On my second day in Ravenna, I wanted to pick beers from the supermarket and that was the moment I was in pure awe.
I saw an Italian beer (Birra Morretti) for 0.79 Euros and Heinikin for surprisingly 1.23. Now that was a beautiful sight. It was a whole different story in India. The last time when I bought a Heinikin in India, I paid Rs 220 for a 750 ml bottle (3.20 Euros). That was the moment I realized that I can comfortably sip my favorite beer for not much.
Being An ODD-One Out
I am staying at a senior’s house, for now, the house is kinda new, so there was no electricity or gas connection and that was a pretty interesting story. For the first time in my life, I understood the value of the mobile battery. We somehow managed to get the rice cooked at another senior’s place and all we had to eat it with was the pickles our mothers dearly packed for us in five layers of polythenes (airport packing). Those were the most delicious pickles I ever ate in my whole life.
There was a lot to talk about my first day in the University classroom, but I will write about it in the other story.
A couple more Indians landed in the following days and all in all we were about twenty people. The exclusive part about me as I was the only Indian pursuing my course on this campus, the rest of them are doing the engineering courses, while I was studying Cultural Heritage.
The worst part was I had to attend my classes alone, and the best was I got some good exposure to the generic Italian culture because more than 60 percent of my classmates and friends are them.
The weekends are fun though, it was about to get better, and right then, the exams happened, and my solo backpacking trip, at the same time!
One week of pickles and snacks had us go berserk. We got electricity on the 10th day and the first thing we did was going to the supermarkets. There were two seniors with us. One took half of us to a place where we can get vegetables and the other one took the rest of the half to a Pakistani store where we can get Indian stuff from packed Gulaab Jamun to Sesame seeds at okay prices.
Some things that will surprise you at first are the speed at which your rice is cooked and the mobile is fully charged because of the differences in voltage. With each evening, the winter started slipping into our bones, and then came a day when we had to sleep in sweaters covered by the comforters. And, Oh God! those nights are awesome. People sleep early here, especially those living in the apartments shared with the locals, because people aren’t very tolerant of the loud noises, unlike however it is in India. It is super calm in the evenings because it has to be.
So, all of us used to slip into a deep sleep even before 11 PM, and man! the classes are generally 4 days a week and starting at 10 AM, I developed this habit of sleeping 14 hours a day with no dream, I repeat, WITH NO DREAMS!
It was only three weeks after being here, I actually started missing home. Once the overwhelmedness of being in Italy has passed along with the cultural shocks, the reality kicked in, and it did pretty hard. It was slow and tough.
The funniest part is, I am publishing this story right after being living here for 1 year and a week. So, technically, last year, October 8th was exactly one week for me in Italy.
For more stuff about studying and living in Italy, and traveling Europe, feel free to mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or can contact me on Instagram at @thedopepoet