On vorpal swords and tulgey woods

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 9 April 2010 at 02:21

I'm still awake at 2am, so what? It's really only 1am, right? Am I right? I am...

Anyway, the point of this whole blog isn't to say anything much. The only good thing that's come out of today has been the fact that the Italian ERASMUS list has been emailed to everyone. I'm quite happy with my choice. I didn't get Parma because the entire student body put down Parma. Obviously, by taking the time to ask people about the Unis I missed the 'first come first served' deadline. I'm not complaining, however, because I ended up getting Pavia, my second choice.

A wee geography lesson: Pavia is in Lombardy, which means it's very close to Milan. In fact, I think it's only about forty miles to the south of it. This gives me a brilliant stepping stone for travel. To the North, as the map shows, there's Milan,and Como; to the North-east, Bergamo and Brescia; while to the East is Cremona and Mantova. Not on the map, however are the other things I'm close to: Genoa to the south; Turin to the West; Parma is about an hour or so away to the South-east; Nice is away in the West, too, along with the rest of France.

I suppose I have a perfect point from which to leapfrog around Italy, if I can find the funds to do so. I'd really like to get around a bit, see new places and actually explore while I'm there. I doubt I'll see the South, but, a tour of the North wouldn't go amiss. I've already got friends in Parma, so I'm sure I could ask them nicely if they'd set me up with a floor in their home for a night or two while I get to see where I could have been studying. In fact, there are plenty of ERASMUS students from Cardiff around northern Italy, so I'm sure I could call in a favour on my travels...

I realise I have not done a geography lesson on Lleida, so it's only fair the Catalans get one too. Lleida is a bit of a complicated town: It's in Catalonia, which puts it in north-eastern Spain, but, it's in the West of Catalonia, pretty close to the Aragonese border. Close enough to the mountains for skiing, and close enough to the sea for there to be a beach in the summer, it's perfect for the time of year I'm going - late ski season right through until summer. What makes it special is that it's a town where they have their own dialect of Catalan: Lleidata. Travel-wise, again, it's brilliant:

I'm an hour away from Barcelona in the East, Perpignon is just to the north-east, across the Pyrenees in France, and Zaragoza is just over the regional border in Aragon. It's positioned nicely along a high-speed rail line, as a major stop between Barcelona and Madrid, with 3 hours from its terminus to the capital. From there, it's no more than 4 hours to get anywhere within Spain, it seems anyway (apart from perhaps Galicia). I could theoretically see anywhere, if I so wished.

What this ultimately means, however, is that everything has suddenly become tangible. It's no longer a case of "I get a year abroad soon", it's "I am going to Pavia and Lleida". I have to knuckle down and learn; I have to get a good mark. I have to get out there, and get stuck in and come back a different person. It's really daunting, but I don't show it - maybe I'm braver than I think. Maybe I've fought off my Jabberwocky already?


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