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Meghan: La Città Rossa

September 2, 2010

No matter what city you’re in, your first impression is more often than not the first steps you take out of the train station. First, before you are even close to seeing the city, you must prove that you are worthy. The fight for you life on the stairs leading to the main atrium is an adequate challenge. You will most likely suffer a few casualties, your toes and patience, for example, but it will be worth it. The feeling of accomplishment is worth it as you find your necessary map and step into the bustling crowd that seems to always gather in front of the station. Bologna is no different.

When you succeed in making it out of the station, Bologna seems to look like any other metropolitan Italian city. A few minutes down Via dell’Indipendenza, however, opens you up to the true Bologna. Miles upon miles of porticoes stretch out across the ancient Etruscan city, almost 38 miles worth of them. Needless to say, I absolutely love it! First impressions can be everything, and I had a great first impression of Bologna, the città Rossa.

After spending about 5 days in the city with a few friends from Minnesota, it was finally the day I had been waiting for since I walked into my advisers office Freshman year. So far, the staff have been absolutely amazing which makes the entire process of finding an apartment in a foreign city and in a foreign language all the less daunting. Searching for apartments in Bologna is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done. Putting aside the significant fact that I am just now becoming comfortable and confident speaking the language, I have to take a lot into consideration. How much does it cost? Do I like the people? Are they open to having an American student living with them for a year, and are they willing to suffer through my stuttered language skills and constant “come si dice…?” Is the apartment big enough? Clean enough? Is it in a safe area of the city? Can I walk to class from here and where is the nearest grocery store? Question after question goes through my head when walking to the next apartment on my long list of “to-see’s,” hoping that I won’t forget anything important. Let’s just say that searching for an apartment is like trying to pick out the best school to go to because essentially, it will be my school, my home, and a major part of my year abroad in Bologna.

So of course, I’ve procrastinated writing this post… and therefore I have more than a week’s worth of adventures and experiences floating around in my head and sadly not enough patience to write down every single event. So I’ll try to make a long story short: I arrived in Bologna on the 25th of August and met up with some girls from Minnesota, and the next day, completely out of the blue, I ran to the university district to see my first apartment. In just 7 days, I saw a total of 5 apartments, all with good and bad qualities, a few leaning more towards the bad then others. It was either a bad area, a dirty apartment or awkward roommates that made my apartment search more and more frustrating after each passing day. This last Wednesday, however, almost pushed me over the edge of frustration. I scheduled three appointments for that day, and two of them canceled on me. One waiting until 15 minutes after the start of my appointment to actually tell me that they had already found someone.

So when I got a call from the third apartment of the day, I was in a horrible mood and tired. I went anyways, and am so glad that I stuck through and didn’t just cancel the appointment. Walking from the main Piazza (Piazza Maggiore) I headed straight down Via D’Azeglio passing beautiful and expensive boutiques and cafés until I finally reached a beautiful apartment building whose main floor housed a few different law firms and private companies. I was early, as always, and decided to check out the surrounding area and absolutely loved it. Then, waiting at the front of the apartment until my appointed time I saw a younger woman, in her mid-twenties, carrying a load of groceries into the apartment building, and I couldn’t help but wonder if this was Serena, the girl I was meeting for the apartment. She didn’t say anything to me, so I assumed it wasn’t. To my surprise, when I finally rang the bell and made my way up the two flights of stairs to the apartment she was there to open the door! Let’s just say that we both got a big laugh out of it and hit it off right away. The apartment in itself was exactly what I needed. You walk in to a cozy living room that leads to the three single bedrooms, all fully furnished and a perfect size, with 2 very nice bathrooms and a large and comfortable kitchen. Needless to say, I really liked the apartment and its locations, its cost was very reasonable for a single in the center, and the people so far are amazing. I’m going back today to seal the deal. It is definitely about time to have some sort of permanent place to settle down.

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