First Week in the Beautiful Town of Paderno Del Grappa
Written by Jillian January 21, 2013
Arriving in Paderno was hectic yet exciting. We brought our luggage to our room and then proceeded to orientations and dinner. It’s nice that there is about 37 Iowa kids here so we have a pretty good group to start but I am meeting someone new every day. It’s like freshman year all over again except with people from all over the United States. There are kids from South Carolina, Minnesota, Kansas, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Rhode Island, Michigan, and the list goes on. It’s so fun to hear the different accents from people and learn about what differs at the schools outside the Midwest. After finally getting used to the time change, I can actually get a good night’s sleep. Many of us discussed how we would wake up in the middle of the night about 2-3 times because our bodies were not only jet-lagged but we couldn’t adjust to the 7 hour time difference. I still can’t believe I am actually here and it still seems surreal to me. The view from our dorm room window is breathtaking and it looks like a painting coming to life right before our eyes.
The food here is unlike anything I have ever tasted. We all went to local shops around town and my friends and I got an amazing sandwich that took about 15 minutes to make each one because they freshly slice every individual meat and ingredient that you want. I also got a slice of pizza and it was so good. Pizza here is very thin and the sauce is so fresh and the cheese is perfect. All the kids were divided into groups and I was lucky enough to get to go on the first mall trip with some of my friends. It was a very interesting experience, especially for my friend Crissa and I. We could not figure out what was what because everything was in Italian. We couldn’t tell if we were buying the right shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, hand wash, face wash, or lotion because it all looked so different yet so similar. It was so cool to see how the customs are different there. The Italians move a lot slower and enjoy every minutes of their shopping experience, while us Americans were rushing down every isle. Paying in Euros still makes me laugh because it looks like fake money, all the coins are actually worth something. In America, if I drop a dime, I rarely pick it up (its all about the quarters) but in Italy, they don’t have paper money under 5 dollars, so I find myself walking around with a lot of change that could add up to big bucks and I don’t even realize it.
For the past few days, about 40 of us went through a program called LIFE. It stands for Leadership Initiative For Excellence. The way I could describe it would be like a leadership boot camp for 3 days and non-stop activities that challenges every brain cell in your body. You are exhausted after the process but it’s worth it. The lessons I have learned from that program will stay with me for the rest of my life. We had “graduation” on Saturday and it was pretty cool. All the teachers were there and supported us because it was a difficult process. For an example, the trainers would call us up one by one and we would have to do spontaneous speeches for 5 minutes on a topic, alone, in front of people you didn’t know and had no time to prepare. At times I was embarrassed and didn’t want to do it but I know it will benefit me in the future.
Lastly, not only is our campus beautiful but the walks to classes are gorgeous. I love all my teachers and I am excited to learn here in Italy. It’s still a shock to me that I am here and I hope to pick up at least some Italian while living here. This weekend we went to some bars/clubs in Bassano and Italian boys were teaching the girls some basic Italian, because for the most part some can speak basic English. I was surprised to hear some American music blasting there.
Overall, this first week has been very hetic, yet awesome and I think to myself that I am leaving in a few days….but in reality I am living here for numerous months. There were a few times I got slightly home sick and wished I could contact people more, but I think I’ll get used to it. We barley get WiFi on campus, mainly just in our rooms, so I don’t feel as connected with my family and friends as I am used to so its going to take some adjusting. I’m excited to see what’s in store for many weeks ahead!