Posted by: claire.mangine | March 30, 2013

Post Eight- Interview with Brittany

New post, new post! And it’s Friday. And I’m on break. And my mom took me shopping today 🙂 Look at me I’m on a roll today.

I wanted to switch things up again and have a different theme for this blog, not just your average tell-me-about-your-trip interview. Also…it was about time I talked to someone who went to my host city, Perugia <3. I talked to someone I’ve known since my first day at Bonaventure: my across-the-hall-freshman-year-neighbor, Brittany!! She to Perugia a year before me, so she was able to hook me up with inside information of throwing yourself into Europe. She even answered my last minute desperate questions just days before leaving; i.e.: “how many sweaters, EXACTLY, do I need???”
I talked to her about the size of Perugia for this blog, which is really kind of tiny (in my opinion). Some people are completely content with that (Brittany) others were left wanting a little more (moi). Here’s her thoughts on the topic:

wait. where are my manors. let’s do some introductions, shall we?

Home University: St. Bonaventure University
Abroad University: The Umbra Institute
When you traveled: January 2011-May 2011. Second semester sophomore year
Rate your program out of 10: 9/10
City you stayed in: Perugia, Italy

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I love this picture 🙂 She screams Italy!!

Claire: Before you got to your host city, what did you expect it to be like?
BrittanyI had a very cosmopolitan image in my head of what living in Italy would be like. I expected everyone to walk around in heels and pretty much thought everywhere in Italy looked like Milan or Rome. I also (this is so “American” of me) thought everyone would speak English and that I wouldn’t need to learn a lot of Italian.

C: When you got to Perugia, was it what you expected? What was different/the same as what you imagined/were told?                                                                                                                                                                                                                             B: When I arrived, the first thing I noticed was a lot of areas were very picturesque, like I expected. Because Perugia is in a Tuscan region the landscape looked very Italian to me. However, I also noticed some immediate differences. Many people, especially the elderly, in Perugia do not speak English. I remember the first night we went out to eat, my friends and I had to literally go into the kitchen at one point and show the cook what we wanted. Also, I was so wrong about Italian fashion. A lot of teenagers and young adults in Perugia were into a weird mix of skater/hip-hop fashions. And everyone wore sneakers, especially really colorful basketball sneakers. Traveling was also something I didn’t expect, especially the ease of it. It was completely normal to decide on Thursday night that my friends and I should totally go to Rome or Florence or even Berlin for the weekend, so we’d buy tickets and leave the next morning.

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C: Would you consider Perugia to be rural/small/medium-ish/large/booming..? What were the signs that showed off it’s size?
B: The thing about Perugia is that it’s hard to give it a size. When you compare it to Rome or Florence it’s small. But it’s location, in Umbria (which is so rural) makes it seem much larger. It’s a university city, so there were a ton of people the same age as me (I think there are seven universities in Perugia.) There were also a lot of bars, and clubs and places to eat. It was small enough that I could get around anywhere by walking (if I really wanted to) but large enough that I was always discovering a new place to eat or club or bar. It was also on a massive hill, so the bottom of Perugia was very modern, the train station was there, as well as  McDonald’s and the major supermarket and a ton of traffic. The top, which is the historic area and where The Umbra Institute is located, is like stepping into a different century. Everything is cobblestone and no cars are allowed in certain areas. There’s also a lot of specified stores and piazzas. These two completely different aspects of Perugia made it seem larger as well. There was also the MiniMetro, which was like a monorail that connected the top of Perugia with the bottom and allowed for different stops. Most cities in America don’t even have that so that also added to the feel of it’s size.

Unaware of what the “MiniMetro” is? Of course you are. It’s a monorail system that spans Perugia in about 15 minutes flat. Pay 1.50 Euro, scan your ticket, and hop on! You get off at your destination and another rail car will be there in about two minutes for the next group of people! I always would say it’s like the monorail in Disney, but no one ever found that funny for some reason? Ouch. Here’s one of my pics of the inside going
though a tunnel: 

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C: What did you see as the pros/cons of the size of Perugia?                                                                                                              B: Pros: I had to learn the Italian language to speak with native Perugians. While it was hard at times, I love being able to tell people I speak it now. I became a regular at certain bars/pubs/cafes. With Perugia being smaller, I was able to make friends with a lot of shop owners. This is turn allowed me a lot of free food and drinks 🙂
Cons:  I didn’t know ANY Italian, beyond “ciao,” when I came to Italy so the first few days were tough. At one point I was seriously considering going home because I didn’t know how to talk to anyone and I felt like a moron. BUT I will stress that it got easier and now I’m so glad I stayed.The WiFi was very finicky. The school had a pretty weak internet connection so I’d sometimes go to internet cafes. They were okay, but keeping in contact with my family and friends was a little tough, so sometimes I felt disconnected. Getting to Perugia from major cities and other countries could be a bit of a hassle. If I was coming from Rome, it was a two hour train ride, which wasn’t too bad.
But, for example, when I came back from Dublin one weekend. I had to fly into Pisa, then wait three hours for a train, then get a connecting one in Foligno, so I wouldn’t get home until very later and the MiniMetro stopped running at 9pm, which meant I’d either need to get a taxi or call an Italian friend who had a car to get me.

ImageC: When you traveled to a smaller/larger city, did you find yourself appreciating Perugia more, or disliking it?                                                               B: I definitely appreciated Perugia more after traveling to larger cities. The first time I went to Rome, I became totally overwhelmed by everything and became lost every ten minutes. Also, larger cities in Italy are very Americanized. If you try to speak Italian to waiters or shop owners, they will totally shut you down and just speak English. In Perugia, if you tried to speak Italian (even if you were really, REALLY bad at it, they appreciated the effort and helped you with whatever you needed.I only traveled to a few cities smaller than Perugia, like Cortona or Assissi. They both seemed a little boring in comparison to Perugia, so again I was glad I had picked the city I had.

Brittany, I had so much fun reading your answers to my questions 🙂 and creeping though your Facebook pics. AHH THE MEMORIES! Thank you for your help!!

All photo credit to Brittany Gasper
With exception of Minimetro picture…that beauty’s all mine

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Responses

  1. Claire, darling, it was a pleasure being interviewed by you! It’s always a guilty pleasure to talk about Italy!

  2. tell me about it! I agree. Thanks again 🙂


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