This past weekend I got a secret peek inside the lives of Italian university students, know what I found? They are just like the American ones.
Maybe for the first time since I have been here (read: first time in the last 7 months!!), for one entire night I felt included in a celebration, in the conversation, in the party. It was an amazing feeling.
All these months I have known that a lot of my isolation comes from my own stubborn will not learning Italian more quickly. Then a couple of weekends ago as I spent a day with Lorenzo and two of his band-mates I came to the realization that more than anything else, I just don’t think I have a lot in common with his friends. I found myself actually semi-understanding the conversation which revolved solely around music and the future of the band. Don’t get me wrong, I care about the band and their well-being, I care about music and I like learning but not every minute of everyday. His non-band friends tend to just talk in circles about nothing and tend to talk about girls, which really bothers me (hey, we all have to admit our insecurities at one time or another). I don’t like to think that they could be trying to sneak in conversation about other girls right in front of me just because they think I can’t understand. FYI mates, I get the idea, so stop.
First, I’ll enlighten you a bit. Laurea is the Italian word for degree, like the one you get for graduating university. Congrats to Michele huh? So, Michele (bless him) decides to throw this giant party at his fathers Bagno in Grossetto on the coast. Basically we had a sweet pool, private beach, catered apertivo and all the alcohol we wanted; all trusted to a bunch of party-thristy crazy twenty-somethings. Sounds familiar. It felt like home.
The entire night I was excitedly greeted by Lorenzo’s friends, I was complimented and conversed with in both Italian and English. What a concept that is. I felt so included and didn’t have a dull moment.
As for the party, what celebratory fools those Italians are. There was booze flowing straight from the bottles, dancing on the bar and every person at the party made an unexpected journey into the pool, clothes and all. It was much more appealing than the previous birthday celebrations that involved crowded clubs with 25 Euro entry fees, Italian girls with their noses stuck in the air, and Italian boys in skinny jeans dancing on tables. Unfortunately, not my thing. I’m glad I found my niche.
I’m curious what brought on the difference for me. I wonder if the university grads are more confident in their English skills (have studied longer?) If they are more open-minded (for one reason or another) or if it just happened to be that group of people. Either way, it was refreshing because I was biting my tongue not to say anything to Lorenzo about my uneasiness of attending yet another party. Pleasantly surprised.