It’s the end of our 5th week as I’m writing this and I can’t believe our time at L’arche Bologna is almost done! In just one month I’ve learned how to speak Italian (kinda?), how to cook pasta (the right Italian way), memorized an abundance of recipes that deal with zucchini, and how to use the bus and train lines around Italy without getting lost (well, almost).
Life in L’arche for me has been slow. But, I don’t want you to connotate the word “slow” as something boring or tedious because the “slow” pace of life here has actually been quite relaxing and different in a good way from my busy life in Portland. I’ve learned to appreciate and eventually like the “slow” pace of work and life in the community. I work in Manna, one of the three houses where the community members live. Manna houses the older people in the community so the activities, work, and overall vibe in the house are more open, relaxed, and calm. In Manna, we like to listen to music together, read books, and do many group activities. On Fridays, we love to watch films while we munch on salami and relax together as a house.
I’ve gotten really close with two members of Manna house because we share the same love for music and art. As my Italian is limited, it doesn’t hurt to pull out Google Translate to interact with them. It may seem scary at first to talk in straight Italian to a local, but trust me, they appreciate and love the effort. When I make mistakes with my Italian or my pronunciation is not understandable at all, we manage to communicate by hand gestures or acting.
It was scary at first that Alessandra and I were placed in different houses because how could I survive without my only American friend in all of Italy by my side? As the days and weeks went on, we started to feel more comfortable in our respective houses despite the somewhat impossible language barrier. I love talking to Alessandra about what she does in Grano because it’s different from my assigned job in Manna. We like sharing stories about the community members and our favorite aspects and characteristics of each person.
It’s a Friday night here as I’m editing this post and I can’t wait for this weekend (we are definitely lucky to have the weekend as our break days). We have three more weeks left and we are trying to make the most out of it. I will use these next three weeks to strengthen my bond with the community members and practice my subpar Italian. I’ll see y’all in my next blog post. Ciao ragazzi!