Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Impressions of Parma

On my way to Italy I've had a fantastic month of surfing various friends’ couches.  Highlights and low-lights include:

-Catching up with friend after friend in Victoria/Vancouver/Norwich/London/Milan, often over a wickedly good meal/brownie
-Spending two weeks in Vancouver during the Olympics, which was indescribably fun
-Paying $100 for $400 seats at a hockey game, then realizing we were sitting behind Cuba Gooding Jr.
-Having “EXPLOSIVES DETECTED” on my hands at the San Francisco airport, resulting in me being forced into a glass cube, where I was sprayed down with something that has probably made me radioactive.
-Having my toiletry bag fall from my backpack in London and get demolished by a fleet of vehicles while I, oblivious, continued to run to the Canadian Embassy to see if they would let us into their Gold Medal Game party. They didn’t, and shortly after I discovered the bag, including glasses, on the road and in approximately 10,000 pieces. Good thing we won that game.
-Went to a club called Toilet in Milan (this lies somewhere in between)

After these and several more adventures I finally made it to Parma, which wore its finest for my arrival. Sky blue and sun shining, I made one last haul with my luggage to the town of Colorno, just north of Parma and home to the University of Gastronomic Sciences. I fetched my key, returned to Parma, and found my new home in the very centre of town, on Borgo San Biagio. This location perk was nothing compared to meeting my new roommates, however. I received hugs upon arrival by the nicest German and South Korean you could ever meet, was fed, and immediately given maps/any information I could possibly need. I am the only one in my program who is living with students in the other masters program, which started in November, and I think in many ways this is to my advantage. Our apartment is large, lovely, and feels like home. My own room is about twice the size of any room I’ve ever lived in, and I don’t think I could own enough clothes in my entire lifetime to fill the wardrobe. From my window I look down into a narrow lane, and up to the tower of the Duomo (cathedral), which would be a literal stones throw away if I had a better arm.

And what do I think of Parma? Despite the last 24 hours of snow (yes, snow), I think quite highly of it so far. It is pretty, not too large, hosts many cyclists, and of course has food on offer in every second shop window. I am looking forward to exploring all of the cafes, bakeries, specialty stores, theatres, and parks, so many of which are at my doorstep.

I find that as long as I try to speak Italian, the people are generally quite gracious. The exception here is bus drivers, who I think may ignore everyone’s questions, not just foreigners. For me, each successful venture in this new language is a small victory, whether it be asking for a residence document from the post office or a loaf of whole-wheat bread at the bakery. I continue to get asked for directions, so if I keep my mouth shut I at least look Italian.

We were meant to start school yesterday, but the snow postponed our orientation until today. Myself and three other students didn’t receive the email in time, however, and so found ourselves together in Colorno nonetheless. I don’t regret this one bit, because I got to meet some of my lovely class-mates and am looking forward to my program now more than ever!

Below are some hastily-edited photos of Parma, my apartment, and my yet-to-be-decorated room. The IKEA (in italiano, “ee-kay-ah”) trip is on Saturday!

1 comment:

  1. Your apartment is gorgeous, as is Parma. So jealous!