So somehow I managed to get to Italy in one piece – proud moment! I’ve been in Italy for 12 days now and there has been a lot to get used to. I was convinced that because I had lived in Italy when I was born for a short while when I was born that I wouldn’t experience any culture shock – I couldn’t have been more wrong. Being 6 years old and living with your family is completely different from being 20 and living alone. As soon as I left my mum at the airport, the enormity of this whole year abroad business finally hit me. Whilst waiting for my flight all I was thinking was “what the hell have I gotten myself into?!” Even 12 days later I find myself thinking the exact same thing!
6 hours since I left Manchester (due to a changing of plane and a delayed flight) I finally arrived at Bari airport. The journey wasn’t as bad as I expected. I was quite surprised that I managed to find my way to my connecting flight in Gatwick and arrive in Bari safely. I was greeted at the airport by Francesco my taxi driver to my town. Good old Francesco was really friendly (probably not what you need when all you want to do is sleep) but as soon as we got into the car he started talking away speaking very fast Italian and using Italian dialect (I think!). So as you can imagine I hardly understood a word. Not to be rude though I just nodded and replied with a few uncertain ‘si si’ when there was a pause in conversation. (I can imagine this being the case for many more conversations to come). After an hour and a half we arrived at Martina and I met my landlord that led me to my apartment. So it was a bit different from the photos. Let’s just say photos can be very misleading and it was much smaller than I had anticipated! All the same I was happy to finally see a bed in front of me and that’s all I cared about at the time.
In the daylight my house doesn’t look as bad as I thought in my post-travel state, I could go even as far as saying it’s quite cute!
The following day was a bit surreal, it took me a few seconds to remember where I was and once I was up the thought of going out to explore was very daunting. All I could hear was Italian men and women talking and going about their daily lives. I hung around the house for literally hours before even thinking of going near the door. If anything, this experience has already made me do things I would be too scared to do in England and this might affect me positively when I go back. When I finally plucked the courage to leave my house I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the town was, no wonder it’s a tourist destination in Puglia. I wondered around for a few hours being careful not to get lost, every street literally looks the same I’m quite surprised that I managed to find my way back to my little house! The next few days were spent pretty much the same, and slowly the fear of leaving my house lessened as I learned my way around the town. Oh, one thing I’d definitely recommend is buying a detailed map before you arrive, I know it seems really obvious but it managed to slip my mind which meant finding things such as a supermarket and the train station proved to be more difficult!
You’ll be happy to know that after 4 days I did manage to find both, although it would have taken far less time and effort if I’d bought a map beforehand! It’s a good job because I was starting to get sick of eating chocolate I’d brought from England breakfast, lunch and dinner! Something else I’d definitely recommend before jetting off is downloading whatsapp on your smart phone, this has defiantly saved me some hard work a few times with family and friends texting me important details, and also to keep in touch with family and friends from home which will definitely put a smile on your face.
I still haven’t got my head around every aspect of living and working abroad alone but each day I’m learning something new – for example during my first few days in Martina I learned that zebra crossings in Italy do not serve a purpose and are merely placed on the road for decoration and the same goes for pedestrian traffic lights.
Hopefully I will soon get my head around it all and actually begin to enjoy my year abroad!