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Report 454: Florence On My Own: Three Weeks of Studying Italian and Very Slow Travel

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2004

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Page 6 of 21: School begins

Monday 10 May: Today is the first day of school! I walk over quickly, see that not too many people are there, and take a written placement test. My Italian is not good enough to answer most of the questions, and I notice that the other people in the room seem to have much more to write than do I. Oh well. I bring out the paper and one of the instructors, Cosetta, takes me into a room for a discussion, an oral placement. Again, my Italian is not up too much. I am distracted by another such oral exam going on in the same room, but Cosetta appears oblivious to the disturbance.

I am done by 9:30, and we are told to come back at 11 am, when the list of class assignments will be posted. I return and find that I am in level two of five --- not so bad. Our teacher is Marco, and I think this is the one that Colleen was raving about. Most of the students are quite young, and I gather that most of them were at Koinè for at least one previous session. And many of them are Asian, which I think will make for an interesting combination. (For more about the school, see my forthcoming travel notes.)

A list of optional activities for the next two weeks is posted. They are an interesting assortment; from museum visits to a weekend on a sailboat. This afternoon there is to be an orientation tour of the school neighborhood, followed by a get-together at an enoteca, Bene Vobis, which turns out to be about one block from my apartment!

So I wander that afternoon, go back to my apartment, then head out for the 5 pm get together. Many people are there, speaking a variety of languages --- French, German, etc. After conversng in halting Italian, then French, I begin to chat with an American woman about my age who is too exhausted to want to speak anything but English. Her name is Rosemarie, she is from Atlanta, and we will become friends. That evening, she joins me for dinner, and first accompanies me to a few little markets to buy cheese, etc. We have dinner and a nice chat at the Trattoria del Carmine, where I have penne puttanesca, tonno e fagiole, vino rosso and acqua.

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