I find myself exhausted. It can’t be the travel, as I’ve had plenty of experience on public transportation navigating through unfamiliar cities. It’s just that my brain feels tired, as it is continually working to decode phrases, understand directions, or follow a conversation. I get to a point in the late afternoon where I just can’t take it anymore, and I try to force myself to NOT try to understand. I walk with my head down to avoid text, tune out conversations around me. The linguistic stimulation is quite overwhelming. And there’s no escaping it. By the evening, I want ear plugs and a blindfold to shut down. I feel like a robot that needs recharging.
But the good news is that I’m loving it here. Every bit, even the difficult bits. Yesterday I had my first day of ‘Intensive Italian’ lessons, which continue Monday – Friday for the month of July. There are only 2 other people in my course; a Argentinean engineering student and a German self-proclaimed ‘algae scientist’. I’m keeping it a secret that I’ve taken 1 introductory course in San Diego, which makes my teacher very impressed with how ‘spongelike’ I am.
After my class, I took the metro to meet with my new co-teacher. She is the French component to myself, and we need to plan our first unit for the first few weeks of school. We went through French documents and text books searching for ideas and projects, misunderstanding each other all the while. As I sat in her kitchen sweating in the humidity on her stylish yet impractical chairs, and thunder roared outside, I had a serious out-of-body moment. I felt as if I living someone else’s life, playing a part. Shaking the fog from my head (volia!) I refocused for another hour, and then drug myself home to collapse.
Today we were off to Milan for a visit to the US Embassy. Because the morning was all business, we decided to find a softer side of Milan in the afternoon. Strolling along less crowded streets brought many pleasant surprises; lots of greenery, cosy restaurants outside shaded by pastel umbrellas, lazy lawns nestled next to ponds and streams.. We settled on panini and cokes, and spent a quiet moment soaking up the sun and enjoying some peace.