My first weeks of my EVS in Ravenna was full of introductions, memory exercises and trying to feel relatively sane.
My very first week, the first week of March, here in Fondazione Flaminia was about discovering the basics: where do I live? Who do I live with? Where do I work? Who do I work with? What are the names and how am I going to remember them? Why are there stools at the bars, when in fact no Italian is sitting down to drink coffee? Is this a trap? Speaking of coffee, how do we make coffee with this machine? How do you pronounce that? Not “ma figuraaaati”, it is “ma figuuurati”… Va bene. Benissimo.
As stated in this article by Michela, who transformed my boring claims regarding my love of cheese or my amazing yet strange family into elegant and interesting story as a skillful pen; I am currently an EVS volunteer in Ravenna at Fondazione Flaminia. (So if you are a citizen of a partner country like Italy; under the age of 30; EVS might seriously interest you. Because, personally I felt really lucky to have found a program that allows me a year in Italy, being a part of an interesting project, furthering my Italian with the opportunity to discover Italy and meet wonderful people.)
So my life is also about discovering stuff that are perfectly normal to you: like eating, names, roads. So eating piadina is a new habit for me. Yes, eating a kind of a bread (yes with squacquerone) is a new exotic aspect of my life. Don’t judge me. Also when Sabrina is called “Sabri” in a very normal Italian way, I bite my lips and try not to laugh thinking of the “Sabri”s in Turkey; which are usually manly men often with a mustache like this. (Just to clarify: La Sabri is not a man with a mustache… A lovely beautiful woman.)
I still have not dismissed the idea of a Truman Show style conspiracy: Ravenna and its residents are so helpful and lovely, this cannot be quite real, right? Having these beautiful streets, old buildings with colors that transport you into a living breathing painting – all very beautiful. Too beautiful. So beautiful that you start to suspect that this may not be actually happening. Vediamo.
These months are about feeling Ravennate and a complete stranger at the same time in a very ironic manner. The feeling of being a part of the daily routine, starting to have “favorite” to roads to cycle through, foods to eat, things to see etc. made me feel like I am truly a part of Ravenna. As I am building a home: buying food, soap, doing laundry etc. and starting to have a “local” sense of belonging; in the meantime I had to go to many official and bureaucratic posts to officially legalize my stay in Italy, hence making the semi-invisible barrier of being a foreigner much more concrete and obvious.
As the days pass, concepts of being a foreigner or a stranger leaves its place to discovery and familiarity in a very delicious manner.