The End

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 4 June 2011 at 19:04

The time has finally come, the long run has reached the final furlong. Ten months of living in foreign climes is slowly winding down, accompanied, in my case, by the sounds of Jakwob and Death Cab for Cutie (for there is no better way to pass one's time).

My classes are all wrapped up, and, aside from a minor error with my subtitling assignment which needs to be sorted out soon-ish, I am free of the shackles of University life until September. While I'm not exactly the hombre who likes to catch the rays out on the balcony, it does give me a lot of free time for doing such things, should I wish. Instead, I have invested in a trip to Pavia, again, to see those people who never fail to make me happy. Oh, and of course, for some Aperol, as I miss the hell out of that drink. I'm also looking into going elsewhere on my travels, but, with only really two free weeks I'm limited on cheap flights and such -- we'll see, however.

More things to update you on? I'm sure I can find something:

1. I'm pretty much sure this will be my last blog on blogger. I know I said I wanted it to go out with a bang, but, right now I feel its best to let the poor thing die with a fizzle, like the damp squib that it is. For those eager to still keep an eye on me, you may update your bookmarks and such to point to Hermetic Aesthetic. I've said it before, but I aim to actually cover more ground in the new blog -- all my old blogs and tumblrs have been rather poorly shared and thinly spread, while one, consolidated blog might just be the thing I need.

2. If you clicked the above link, you'll see the section marked Vlogs. I know, I know, I say I'll do this every year. However, I guess I now have no excuses. My camera runs up to 1280p HD video, as does my phone. There's no reason, aside from my own dislike hearing my voice being played back to me (which may hinder the editting process) for me to not post regular vlogs. What's more, with a family trip to Disney World planned for the end of August, I'll need to get the practice in to join hundreds of other fools talking to cameras when they should be enjoying themselves. If you're interested, you can head to my channel and subscribe in anticipation of the half-baked things to come.

As far as the rest of my life goes: my summer is, beyond those two weeks in Florida, totally unplanned. I head back to the UK July 6th, and from then on, whatever I do pretty much falls down to whether I get a job (thus having little time for anything else), whether other people invite me to do things, and how I plan on filling the time when there's nothing else going on. So, with that, I guess it's time to close the doors on this old Erasmus blog, and leave it to cover itself up with internet dust.

I shall see you all on the other side...meaning on the new July.


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 20 May 2011 at 20:31

As the year starts to wind down, it's only fair that I try to keep up on blogging. So, what have I been up to since we last spoke?

I've spent more time scheduling blogs for the beginning of July on a totally new post-Erasmus blog, so I haven't really been thinking about the here and now. I've just been scribbling thoughts, opinions, guides; anything that means I'll have regular (maybe too regular?) posts for people to read once Erasmus ends. I guess I'm giving myself a buffer to take me up until I'm back on Terra Firma in the UK -- so, July 7th -- but, it's not all gloom and doom and outdated articles. Without 'spoiling' too much, once I get on top of it all, I should have a nicer mix of things for people to read, rather than just "Today, I boiled an egg. That is all."  Just six more weeks before that all comes to fruition!

In other news, my parents visited for the week. They stayed in Tarragona, so I assume most of their time was spent on the beach and in the surrounding area. For the days when I wasn't busy with classes, or with an essay on Sexual Awakening in Erotic Dreams in the Literature of Antonio Ros de Olano, I was playing tour guide, showing them the sights in Lleida, which they seemed to enjoy, and even giving them a guided tour of the older part of Barcelona. Yet again, I missed out on the Parc Guell, and the Camp Nou, but there's plenty of time in my life to see these sort of things.

Beyond those two delightful things, there has been very little going on in the last nine days. Student loan is holding, sort of, and the British Council grant is due to come through sometime within the next few days. All in all, with only one essay, one exam, and one assignment remaining, I think this is going to be a pretty lazy end to my Erasmus year. Hopefully, this blog can go out with a bang in June, rather than a fizzle...but, as they say, Don't count your eggs before they hatch. Perhaps, given the searing heat, I'll have melted by then anyway...


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Wednesday, 11 May 2011 at 12:23

Last night was potentially the best night of my Erasmus life. Or at least a close 2nd to all those nights of 3am pizza in Pavia. It was, essentially, the grand finale of the Festes de Lleida; one big fair and festival ground in the lead up to Sant Anastasi today. It's been going on since Friday, but I wasn't really interested in the lesser-knowns, and only had one (well, two) reasons to go: Manel, and El Guincho.

Manel are, for those of you haven't listened to them (or me rambling on about them), the only Catalan band to top the Spanish charts. They've only been around four years, and play a style of folk-pop that is distinctly Catalan, but also easily enjoyable outside of Catalonia. They are also my favourite Catalan band. El Guincho, on the other hand, is an electronic artist from the Canary Islands. Pitchfork, that dreaded magazine, seemed to like him, especially when his video for Bombay came out and was four-odd minutes of topless ladies jiggling around in strange scenes.

A group of us went along, with the intention of seeing Manel. We turned up around midnight, with 45minutes to spare, and went to the only stage playing music at that time. It was some blues and rock'n'roll cover band. Most of the songs were in English, as was most of the crowd interaction, which I felt was kind of silly. Hey-ho, I'm not Catalan, so I don't know how to appreciate this. Around 20minutes into the set, I pondered walking home to get my camera, but figured I wouldn't have enough time to keep my amazing spot for Manel.

Oh, how wrong I was. The music dragged on, with a 10minute rendition of James Brown's I Feel Good, or perhaps it was Papa's Got a Brand New Bag. They always sound the same to me, especially in a 10-minute feelgood rendition. After, we looked at each other confused. Perhaps Manel was on another stage? Perhaps the one furthest from us. No, that had a list up. Perhaps the one behind us. Well, there's nothing going on, so we could always walk...

And the first notes rang out and I felt like a giddy schoolgirl. Not only was it Manel, it was Manel playing El Miquel i L'Olga Tornen, from their new album, which is my favourite song from that disc. And it just kept getting better and better. When gaps in the crowd emerged, I managed to sneak further and further forward, but never quite close enough to enjoy the fan-crowd at the front, who were really into it. I could probably attempt to write out the setlist, having sung (badly out of tune, and garbling most of the Catalan) to most everything they played. They added stories -- El Canço del Soldadet was built up as being a story told to Arnau, the drummer, two years ago "when he was just 6 years old, and made a wish to grow up; he's now 30." -- and audience participation. They even teased everyone with an encore that started off poorly, with Deixa-la, Toni, Deixa-la, a fairly melancholic tune, but topped it with their cover of Pulp's Common People (La Gent Normal, in Catalan), and finished up with Al Mar! a song I've never been too fond of, but which resulted in me, and the group of young guys behind me shouting it into the ears of the bewildered older ladies in front of us.

All finished, and I was lost. But, you know what? While normally I would panic and spend time trying to seek everyone out, instead I went to  see what else was on, alone. There was some early hours techno thing going on, and El Guincho. However, Manel's encore had made them run on til about 1.15, and my wanderings had left me turning up to El Guincho's set with about 10minutes left -- I got to appreciate his music, slightly, before everything stopped, and I was alone still. But, I was in my element. It was actually nice to wander alone, the sound of Manel fresh in my ears.

Now, the question is, after seeing Manel for free, do I spend €70 (and the train fare to Barcelona) on seeing a lot of bands that I like at Primavera Sound...?

Dormilón, I choose you!

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 9 May 2011 at 06:36

It's rare, very rare given my uncanny penchant for staying up to unreasonably late hours, that I am awake at pre-7am. By British standards, I have been awake since about 5.30 waiting for my alarm to go off, making it now 6.15 (7.15 local time). It's early. Damned early. And I kind of like it. I always like it when I manage what, to some, is a relatively easy feat. In Spanish, they have a word for people like me: dormilón. It sounds like a pokémon, but really it's just a nicer sounding way to say sleepyhead. I enjoy my sleep; and sometimes let it take precedent. It's these rare moments of 7am lucidity that I cherish, as they are so rare. And now, on with the news:

I can finally quit complaining to you that I am the poorest of the churchmice. As of Saturday, I've been granted my final dose of student loan for the year...which I proceeded to spend on a new phone, because, let's face it, 24months tied down to one is too long in this day and age. I have other plans for this cash, including living expenses, getting myself home for the summer, and frivolities including a selecció catalana jersey from the football shop on the corner. Oh the joys of money.

There are exactly eight weeks left of this Erasmus journey. At the moment, with essays and courseworks still due, I can't say that I'm going to miss it. But, who knows; give me eight weeks and I might just change my tune. I might even change my blog -- I know, I've barely hit 100 posts here and already I'm leaving. Well, I feel that VENT was a nice leaping off platform. It was meant to be regular, short, bloggy, about travels and adventures and new experiences. Perhaps it fulfilled this, perhaps it didn't. Since I'm not going to be abroad, and since I'm not going to be journeying into literal terra incognita, I'm of the mindset that, come July I'll switch to another URL, and try to do a better job at this blogging malarky. Don't worry; I'll let you know where you can find me ahead of time!

Finally, in rounding off, I'm less than happy with the outcome of the elections and referendum on Thursday. We didn't get AV, because as ever the British public are more conservative (with a small c) than they'd like to let on. Perhaps that's a little harsh when only 42% of them actually bothered to vote, like the lazy, apolitical asshats they are. We, being the Welsh, also got a shoddy result in our election seeing Labour fall one short of a majority. Where is the humanity? Where are the Plaid Cymru voters? All I can say is that I'm thankful someone got it right and gave Alex Salmond and the SNP a 9 seat majority in Scotland. It's just a shame the rest of the country can't be so forward thinking...

And on that bum note, I hope you have a good rest-of-the-day! I'm off to make some coffee!

Avoid This Blog. It is about Politics.

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 19:21

We're into May, and I'm still sitting on my rent & bills money as, as far as I am aware, the landlady hasn't come round with our little slip where she tallies up the bills and divides it by five. I guess I'm in the clear until Monday then! But, I'm not here to give you another installment of "Alex is poor, so cry me a river!" In fact, I'm here to educate.

As most of you are aware -- if you are reading from the UK anyway -- today, May 5th, was election day in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. For those of you who have stumbled on this from another country, or who I have met on my travels, well: now you know. But, the other important thing on this day -- aside from Cinco de Mayo (or Hanko de Mayo) -- is the British referendum on Electoral Reform.

Sounds like a bore, right? Well, I guess most of it is a bore. It's all numbers and sheets of paper, and things that the average man on the street doesn't give two hoots about. Right now, in Britain, the voting system is pretty simple: tick a box, your vote counts; if your guy gets the most votes, he wins, and everyone else is left out in the cold. Simple. The joy of First Past the Post.

What's going on today in Britain, however, is a referendum to see if people want to change that system. In other words, a change towards a more democratic system. I think it was put best in a video about the Canadian elections held this month, that in the last (2008) elections, over 40% of Canadians voted for nobody, meaning only 17% of those entitled to vote actually wanted to have Stephen Harper's Conservatives representing them. The same happens in Britain, where the norm is for the party in power to be in on 36% of the vote (that is 36% of those who voted, which is usually less than 70% of the country), meaning only around 15-17% of people actually want the Prime Minister and his party to be representing us.

That's where today came into play. Owing to a lovely scandal over MPs and money, people wanted a bit more transparency and a lot more accountability. But, how can an MP voted in by a tiny amount of his constituency actually be held accountable? The other people can't moan because they lost or didn't vote; and those who did actually vote him in are in the minority, despite being the so-called majority. What do you do? Overhaul the system.

There are hundreds of potential voting systems out there. Some of my favourites include the Mixed Member system used in Wales, which, though confusing, gives people the best of both worlds. Constituencies are voted in on a First Past the Post (i.e. most votes wins) basis, and the remaining seats are given out proportionally on a Party List.
The other one I love is the French presidential system of dual-round voting. That is, essentially, that when your candidate loses, you go back to the polls two weeks later and vote for the two remaining candidates. You may be unhappy that your candidate lost, but at least you have more of a chance for your voice to be heard the second time as there's a 50:50 chance your man will get in.

So, in Britain, what have we opted to offer? Do we take on the Mixed Member system of Wales? Do we use the Single Transferable Vote found in Australia? How about the good old "Majority vote" found in schools across the land? Nope, the British government chose to offer the Alternative Vote. I won't go into the gory details, but essentially: rank your candidates in preference order, and when they get knocked out your 2nd preference is counted, then your 3rd if they get knocked out. Pretty simple.

What I'm noticing, however, is a split in the country. Those on the Right don't want the system because they think it will change everything. Those on the Left don't want the system because they are scared of minority parties suddenly gaining power. In reality, neither is going to happen. The British public, I'm sorry to say, are too slow-witted to suddenly change their voting habits from Lib-Lab-Con to Green or BNP. Rarely, if I'm honest, have I encountered someone who was willing to put their FPTP vote on the line and vote outside the Big Three -- that is, someone who is willing to throw it all away in the hope that someone else will vote with them. Only those of real conviction for their party seem to do that, while the others just tick the party of their current MP.

Case in point? The Rhondda, where I live (for those not aware), is a Labour heartland. For over 100 years, since the foundation of Labour, there has not been a day when it has not been represented, at a National level, by a Labour MP. Of course, on the devolved levels -- the Welsh Assembly, and the local council -- we see that people are more willing to put up with a Plaid Cymru or Liberal Democrat candidate. On the whole though, nobody says "You know what, I've had enough of that Chris Bryant and I'm voting Plaid!" Instead, they say "I've had enough of that Chris Bryant. But I don't trust anyone else!"

Admittedly, in heartlands and safe seats, the AV will only serve to strengthen the legitimacy of the candidate involved. Those 2nd place votes for Labour in the Rhondda will be added on to the first place tally, meaning we have more of a right to complain when our MP messes up. Where it will really matter is in those few marginals that see switches from Labour to Conservative or Liberal to Labour depending on the mood of the people. Essentially, legitimacy, accountability and, hopefully, some transparency will come out of this.

So, you may ask yourselves, why am I informing you of all of this? Well, the answer is simple: we're looking at a very likely No vote. In writing about this, I just hoped to get it out there that there is more to AV than what the Yes or No campaigns say; there is no massive change, there is no confusing system, there is nothing more than three boxes to tick instead of one. The downside, you use more ink. The upside, accountable MPs. But, hey-ho. As we see, year-in, year-out with elections, the British public are never going to change their ways and we will forever be swapping between Labour and Conservative, in the hope that, eventually, one of them will get it right.

I suppose, once the results are out, I write a status on Facebook and a line on Twitter about it all. Until then, if you read this far, let's have something a little more lighthearted:

Growing Pains

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 30 April 2011 at 12:29

I always feel guilty when I don't blog. It's not that I have an avid fanbase who awaits the next installment. It's just that I feel I am neglecting those who actually do enjoy reading about my mundane life. Since, as my last post put it, I have very little doing -- I would like to thank the ever-prudent Student Loan Company for this; damned QUANGOs -- I guess there's not much of an "I did this, I did that" post coming up. In fact, I'm going to hypothesise instead.

Ever since my first day in Spain, which was spent in a hotel in Barcelona, I've been asked by friends "So, what are you actually going to do when you finish your degree?" It's a fair question. A lot of my friends who went off to study at the same time as I did will be finishing their degrees this year; in fact, most of them will have graduated before I get home no doubt. They probably have career options lined up, internships, Masters degree applications on the go. Me? Well, I have another year left in Cardiff, so I've not really put any concrete thought into what I'm going to do with the rest of my days. However, I have narrowed things down.

  • Journalism: I know, I know, the world is full of two-bit hacks. I originally wanted to apply to university to do a degree in journalism and Spanish, but JOMEC (Cardiff's journalism department) said that such a degree combo was impossible. I have a lot of friends doing media-based courses, or who have really geared themselves towards a career in journalism through writing non-stop for student publications. I guess, I've only really written for myself. If it came to trying to get onto a Master programme, or even just another undergrad, the most I would have to prop me up are my sparse tumblrs. It's an option, but it's one of those ones where I'd really have to put in the effort.
  • Teaching: The bane of my life would be teaching just Spanish forever. I've slowly fallen in love with Gallo-Romances, that's to say Italian and Catalan. I can't exactly teach Catalan anywhere, because most Catalan tutors are brought into the UK via the Institut Ramon Llull (and the lovely Nuria Corominas). The same goes for Italian; there isn't that much of a demand for a single-serving Italian teacher. All of the teachers I've know who speak Italian (all one of her) actually taught French, and I never heard her speak a word of Italian, and just had to base it on what other teachers told me. I suppose I could teach Spanish, but it would end up with a feeling of self-loathing, that I had somehow lost control over two far more beautiful languages.
  • Lecturing: It's a step up from teaching, I'll grant it that, and so the workload to get there is much higher. In order to get even a chance at a Master or PhD, I need to be maintaining an average of 68+ from now on; heck I need to be maintaining a 70+ just to stand out from the crowd. I'd be looking at dropping out of Spanish, and concentrating solely on Italian. From there, it's just work, work, work; eat, sleep and breathe Italian, which is something I'd be very happy to do. But, being very happy to do something, and being good enough to get a doctorate and a teaching fellowship out of it are two different planes of existence. On the one plane is George Bush Jr, happily chuckling that politics is like playing soldiers in the garden; and on the other plane is Barack Obama, trying his hardest to make a Utopia out of a country where the very word only seems to transliterate to Commie Bastards.
  • Writer: Colin Meloy once wrote "I am a writer, a writer of fictions; I am the heart that you call home." For me, that is exactly where my heart lies; in writing. Of course, when you lack the inspiration and self-confidence to see something through to the end it can be a torturous process where you think that you are the worst of the worst. Obviously, this is just a pipe-dream, but, hey we can all chalk up dreams on the board and say "When I grow up I want to be [x]", right? So, mine is "When I grow up, I want to be a writer" -- I guess, aside from teaching, all of the potential futures I have in mind involve some kind of extended writing; albeit journalism and academic articles are far more factual than the subjective poetry and prose that a writer presents. I realise that saying this is like saying "I want to be a rockstar," because the chances of success are slim-to-none, unless you have a sob story...
And thus we reach the conclusion that my life outlook doesn't involve anything that doesn't involve writing or informing people of things to a certain degree. If there was a Venn diagram for this, one side would say "Careers that inform people of things" and the other would say "Careers that involve writing things" and I'm sure you could fit all four of the above into the overlap in the centre. Such a great scope of the 'World of Work' eh?

On that note, I'll leave you get back to your day, which may or may not involve working!

Return to the Doldrums

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 23 April 2011 at 17:14

Every April I hit this horrible financial low. It's usually because the Student Loan Company thinks it's a brilliant idea to space loans four months apart, unaware that Easter tends to mess things up. Some years you can finish your second semester early, and it doesn't matter that you only have £50 to your name. Others, you're hanging around til the end of April, living off Tesco Value tinned beans. This is one of those years.

Normally, I'd say 'sod it' and keep spending, and just live off the 4p-a-can spaghetti-o's from LIDL. Being in Spain, though, I've decided I'm a little bit further from 'the norm' than usual. So, while everyone I know has had the chance to visit Andalucia and the Basque Country, and hop off to Prague or Rome, I'm left stewing in my own juices on the sofa in my room, trying so hard not to spend money. I can safely say this has been the most boring Easter on record.

This explains the lack of blogs. I haven't been "too busy" to write. In fact, I've had a lack of anything to write about. I haven't had the funds to go gallivanting off to more interesting places. I haven't even had the funds to do something interesting in Lleida -- tapas, variat, xurros -- nada. Damn and blast! What's worse: it's 8 days until rent/bills, and then it's another week until I will have any funds beyond what I am hoarding to be able to do my usual €20 Monday shopping.

So, the only half-interesting piece of news I can give you is that those applications paid off. Well, one of them did at least. I am assuming the worst (as there is only a best and a worst with applications) and saying that I did not get picked for Erasmus Soc committee -- I guess telling them that you think their society could do better to integrate with non-Erasmus Societies isn't the best way to apply for a position. But, on the plus-side, I did get selected as President of the Spanish-Italian Society for next year! Huzzah! It also seems to be run by all fourth-years, without the input of any 2nd years -- Freshers, I am disappointed you didn't have the balls to apply, and if you did: Spanish-Italian Committee, I am disappointed you didn't think any Freshers were good enough to take on the challenge. I kid, I kid; it just means keeping our heads about us, and remembering we have to cater for everyone, not just us post-Erasmus folk!

Any other business? Subjects have been picked for next year. I'm back on to Catalan, since I may as well stick it out and parlar molt bé rather than waste what I know in favour of cinema or political history (though that module will be the one with the best stories, considering both Andrew Dowling and Montserrat Lunati are teaching it). On the Italian side of things, I've got a semester of Art History, and I foolishly picked up a dissertation -- they say you have to meet certain requirements before you can do one, so I'm just hoping that I have met those. No idea what I'd write about though -- Dante as Literary Critic in De Vulgari Eloquentia? Dante as linguistician in the same book? Interpretations of Risorgimento in Post-Unification Literature? Marinetti and the Futurists? I have so many interests I would like to pursue, but only my tutor will be able to tell me what exactly I am allowed and not allowed to look at. Maybe I'm thinking too broadly, on more of a PhD thesis kind of exploration, when really I need to be thinking of something very focussed that will give me 6000-8000 words. I have time, I guess...

Anyway, I suppose that's enough about my boring life until May, unless something amazing happens and I win the lottery. Until then: what's going on with you guys? Facebook me, tweet me, comment me; I am genuinely curious as to what other human beings have been doing with their time!

How Not To Live Your Life

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 1 April 2011 at 17:42

It's Friday, Friday, Friday...

And I'm hungover. What's new, world? I guess this is what happens when you live with people, rather than going at your own pace. I'm not complaining. I guess lying in bed until 3pm thinking "Kill me now" is a good enough way to pass the time here. It's not like I can do anything else today because, shock horror, I've gone and lost my keys. I assume they're in Fissure, on the floor somewhere, lost to the world. But, they might well be somewhere, lost to the world, in this sty of a room -- I always say I'll clean it. I never do.

Today is our rent day. Shockingly, with rent and bills, we only have to pay €160 this month. That's hardly anything. I was expecting to pay a lot more. But, since it's 25degrees outside, who needs to have the heating on anymore? All I need is my key back so I can go out and enjoy it! It'd be nice to spend these lazy days down by the river; actually only been into the Camps Elisis twice in the last two months, and even then I was only passing through.

What other news do I have? Nothing much really. Applications for next year's Erasmus and Span-It committees have been out. I decided to fill in one for each, just in case I get lucky and can have another year on an Exec Committee. Absolute power corrupts absolutely? Perhaps, but it's something to do, on top of next year's classes. Either way, even if I'm unsuccessful, I'll probably end up a member of both societies anyway. I mean, why not?

Any other business? I think not. I guess I shall be heading on my merry way to Fissure in the hopes that somebody found and handed in my keys. If not, then I'm a little bit screwed and will have to go crawling to the dueña about it. Not exactly the best impression to make at the end of my 2nd month here -- "Sorry, seems I lost the keys. I'm sure they'll turn up...but they are no longer in my possession. Sorry!"


Awesomesauce and Pesto

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 20 March 2011 at 16:18

With three day weekends, you can do anything. Part of that anything includes hopping a plane from the nearest airport to the most inconvenient airport in Italy -- Lleida-Alguaire to Milano-Bergamo in one hour forty isn't half bad really. The problem involves getting to and from the airports from Lleida, and Pavia, but that's not something I'm going to delve into. I've had worse transport issues, and that's the core of this I guess.

Friday morning I packed up my stuff, headed off to the airport, and six hours later was getting off a train in Pavia, the city I hold in highest esteem and is probably the dearest thing to me in the world right now. If you're an avid follower and have read through my blogs mentioning the town on the Ticino, you'll know that I am head-over-heels in love with it, and any chance to return is a good one. So, you can only imagine my glee stepping onto the platform of a station I left behind almost two months ago.

I spent the weekend in the company of the most amazing people I have had the good fortune to meet this year: Roxy, Rebecca and Brandon, three Americans who know how to bring a smile into my life, even when I am opposed to it. A night of aperitivo, wine, fruit salad and youtube videos got me back into the swing of Italy; though to tell the truth, I was just happy to be amongst the folks I've missed the most since coming to Lleida. Uh oh, soppy blog!

The plan for Saturday was to go to Parma, but we agreed it wasn't going to be doable, considering we went to bed at 5am and had to catch a train at 1pm. Instead, the girls and I headed on down to Genova, one of the few cities in Northern Italy that I had missed out on. It's quite the interesting place, both on the sea and in the hills -- for a nerdy comparison, it reminded me of Dollet from Final Fantasy VIII. Being a bit of an architecture nerd, I got a little excited at the Cathedral, but the upper part of the city was all too fancy so I started hating on it. Still, it was good to finally travel somewhere with my girls.

Well, until we got on the train back and ended up stuck in Voghera for an hour and a half. It seems something happened between there and Milano Rogoredo, due to the bad weather probably, which caused all the trains to stop. I guess there was a power cut, since Roxy's place was without power when we got back. On the plus side, we got back. But, it was the beginning of some real bad luck -- I didn't get up until 8.30 this morning, meaning I just missed the Intercity at 9.33, and had to catch two different trains, arriving in Milan at 10.40. The bus from Milan didn't leave until 11.00, but thankfully arrived at 11.50, so I didn't miss my flight. However, the flight was so fast that it was due to arrive half an hour earlier than expected...until the air traffic controller in Lleida decided he didn't need to be in work until 10minutes before our scheduled landing time. That meant half an hour circling above Tarregà, a town about 40km from Lleida. Some things you just can't make up.

But, putting aside my transport woes, this weekend has been something I really needed. You might think I'm being stupid when I keep on about how I miss my American friends, especially when you consider how little I've missed anyone from home, or university. I guess I know you Uni/Home friends will be close enough next year that if I want to see you, you're just a phonecall or a train journey away...rather than a longhaul, expensive flight that has to be planned weeks in advance. So, when I say I miss these might just look repetitive, but I mean it: when I miss them, I hella miss them. *audible sigh*

I'll let you go now. I feel like I'm boring you with attempting, and failing, to pour my heart out. I'm never good at this kind of soppy shit, no matter how much I feel it deep down (or on the surface). In short: good weekend, great people, awesomesauce.

Catalan wasn't intended for ranting...

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Tuesday, 15 March 2011 at 21:03

Avui, vull provar alguna cosa nova. Escric tot aquest blog en català, perquè moltes persones són normalment sorprenents quan dic que parlo, o almenys entenc bé, aquesta llengua. Ho sap, també, que molts de vosaltres us sentiu molests, i a molts més no us agrada llegir-ho. No vaig a disculpar-me, i sols vull fer alguna cosa això una vegada per veure tant difícil és per escriure més i més en català.

Vaig descobrir que cada vegada més molts estudiants de català com a llengua estrangera, o segona llengua, són dividits en dos camps: els a que agrada la llengua, i els a que van aprendre-ho perquè era obligatori. La majoria dels estudiants estrangers, em sembla, són del segon camp. Es queixen molt, perquè són en Espanya per aprendre castellà i en els paisos catalans no ho parlen molt. L'altre problema és que són, normalment, de paisos monolingües -- em sembla que no poden entendre un país que és bilingüe des del principi, no com Alemanya o Polònia, on es aprendre una segona llengua estranger, no natiu.

No vaig a escriure aquest blog per dir-vos que és imperatiu que aprendre la llengua catalana, o altra llengua. No vull dir-vos qualsevol cosa això. Ho sé que tot el món és diferent, i que totes les persones tenen en comú la seva diversitat. Però, em molesta quan una persona diu que aquesta llengua no havia de ser parlat en els paisos catalans, perquè no es la llengua del país (si el italià, o el castellà, o el francès). Em molesta molt, perquè demostra una forma de ignorància cultural dins la persona, fins i tot es parla centenars de llengües estrangers.

I, ho sé que em sembla una mica hipòcrita perquè no m'agrada la llengua francesa molt. La meva opinió és que és la pitjora llengua de les llengües romàniques, però no dic mai que els francesos han de parlar un'altra llengua. Ho sé que és la llengua oficial de França, i per això no es pot canviar al Occità o el Català en aquest cas. No obstant, la idea és la mateixa. Podeu dir-me que no us agrada el català. Podeu dir-me que no voleu aprendre mai aquesta llengua. Però, quan em dieu que els vostres professors han de ensenyar-vos en castellà, o les persones dels carrers han de parlar amb vosaltres en espanyol, em sento molest.

El català és parlat per uns nou milions de persones. Amb l'adició de estudiants estrangers, el numero aixeca fins i tretze milions persones. El primer numero, nou milions, és més que la població de Dinamarca i, per això, existeixen més catalanoparlants que parlants natius del danès. Si us plau, no us queixeu de la llengua quan són més parlants que les persones de una llengua oficial de un país existent.

I, ara i aquí, em sento que tot aquest blog és només una gran queixa. Si us agrada la llengua, molt bé. Si no, no m'importa. Si us queixeu perquè no ho enteneu i no voleu provar a entendre, és molt mal. Per posar fi a aquesta diatriba, vull dir-vos dues coses:

"La reacció a qualsevol paraula pot ser, a una persona, una reacció com la multitud o la de la individual. Depen a la persona de preguntar-se: la meva reacció és individual, o reacciono amb la sentiment popular?"  D.H. Lawrence

"Altre llengua és altre perspectiva de vida."  Federico Fellini

Fear and Forgetting

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 13 March 2011 at 23:08

Normally, I'd gloss over this sort of stuff, and tell you more about the day-to-day in my life. In the last 7 days, I really haven't had much of an interesting day-to-day life -- I've been mistaken for Italian, I've had two very, very nice late night (or is finishing at 5am and 6am respectively early morning?) chats with my flatmate Ania, and I've cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of its life, twice, only to watch it fall back into decay and disrepair within a few hours. I also forgot -- forgot -- that Pau Vallvé was in Lleida tonight, and so missed my chance to see him. Beyond that, it's been a week that has gone by far too slowly.

Perhaps knowing that I have my return to Pavia on the horizon is making everything seem that little bit slower. Friday at 15.10 cannot come soon enough. I've never flown Ryanair before, and the idea of actually having to fly to Bergamo with them is mighty scary, as they seem stricter than most airlines -- I even think my usual hand luggage is oversized by their measurements, something Easyjet never have a problem with because it's a backpack...just a little bigger. When you start selling your own carry-on cases, everyone else knows you have issues.

So, what I have done this week, besides vegetating, and staying up well past my bedtime to discuss future plans and musical taste, was travelling! I went to Zaragoza; finally, real Spain. I forgot how much I loved Catalan until they stopped playing "Propera parada: [station name]" on the announcements as soon as we got into Zaragoza itself. I guess they only play it for most of the journey because of La Franja being a Catalan speaking region of Aragon. Who knows?

Anyway, Zaragoza is a nice place, but it's not exactly awe-inspiring. Getting off at El Portillo is probably better than Delicias, because then you don't have to walk 40minutes before you see anything more than the everyday. I know I like getting away from tourism, and loved wandering the campos in the Castello sestiere of Venice, where there wasn't a tourist in sight, but Zaragoza is just too big for all of that -- all you need to see begins at the Aljafería, and a trip to the Expo site is an added bonus later on. Admittedly, if we ignore the real, modern city itself, then it's a lovely, non-typical Spanish city. The one thing that must be mentioned is that the Basilica del Pilar actually put the fear of God into me for a few minutes -- I thought San Marco in Venice made me feel small, but this was some other animal, complete with devoted Spaniards praying non-stop. If Christianity ever felt like its power was waning, this basilica would prove that people are still obsessing.

So, I'm rambling because I don't have much to say about it. Sure, go there if you want, but don't mark it down as a "must see" when you're in Spain. Maybe I'm just not as taken aback by Spanish cities as I was by Italian ones? Or maybe they really aren't as great as everyone makes out. On the plus side, I had some really good company for the day!


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 7 March 2011 at 13:21

Today, on a whim, I went to Abacus. It's our local educational bookstore; think Blackwell's more than Waterstones. Anyway, I went with the intention of picking up a Catalan grammar book for my collection of linguistic tomes I never look at. What I found instead was a copy of a grammar book for learners of Aranese, the Occitan dialect spoken in the Val D'Aran region of Catalonia. I was very tempted to buy it, then I realised it was all written in Lengadocian (or at least a purer form of Occitan than Aranese) so I put it back.

Since that moment, I've been having a few linguistic regrets. You see, we went on a trip to the mountains on Saturday, to Pobla del Segur. There, it was almost like a cross between the Welsh valleys and the dry hills of Spain. In some places, it was verdant and lush in a way you only ever see in city parks that are cared for. In others it was dry scrubland that looked neglected and yet typically Mediterranean. While my Italian friends went to sample the local delicacies of the Carnival, the Polish girls and I decided to hike around the hillsides. It was a really nice 4 hour walk, into the 'back of beyond' -- though I mean that in a purely descriptive way, as the place was genuinely beautiful, it was just miles from the big cities -- but the more I think about it, the more I have these pangs.

Sure, I've been ill, but it's not those kind of pangs. It's the pangs of regret that come with living in a bilingual community where the people actually care about their language. Without trying to sound like an ignorant Briton, I think Wales needs a good dose of someone like Franco to make them realise how important the language is. My Literature lecturer here teaches in Spanish, his students answer him in Catalan and write essays in Catalan; to do that in the UK would amount to a fairly weighty political statement (speaking and writing in Welsh to an English Lit. lecturer)

Of course, I'm not going off on a linguistic rant, espousing the virtues of the Iaith Cymraeg, but merely trying to put up some barriers to explain to myself and you, dear reader, why I have these pangs. I'm from a country that should, in theory, be 100% bilingual. Instead, we're allowed to drop the language at 16, speak English for the rest of our lives, and nobody gets annoyed at it. It's a fine system...if you don't care. What I'm getting at, in the most roundabout of ways, is that I regret not continuing my Welsh education.

I could probably, with the help of a dictionary for the more colloquial words, attempt writing this out in Catalan and it would come out much better than an attempt in Welsh. But, while that may be molt bé, and an achievement for most, considering Catalan is a fairly strong minority language -- 9million speakers in 4 countries; more native speakers than those who speak Danish -- it's not my first language, or even a language spoken in my home country. While I may not come out of this degree being able to call myself bilingual in any of the languages I have devoted myself to, that's not a problem for me. I guess now I feel like if I should be able to call myself bilingual, it should be in the two mother-tongues of my country -- English and Welsh.

In short: if I learn nothing else this year, I can be safe in the knowledge that I want to get back to learning to speak Welsh.

Music Makes the World Go Round

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Monday, 28 February 2011 at 15:17

It has been 10 days since my last blog; my last outlet. I feel like this place has become so routine that there is no need to inform people of the goings-on. Lately, however, things have been on the up. I suppose I can't complain too much -- the rent is cheap, the food is alright, and the company is great. I've survived 28 days, so what's there to worry about?

Anyway, back to things being on the up!

While I can't justify going to Belgium anymore -- €140 is my rent, and I'd have to pay that as a minimum for flights; throw in trains and 'having a good time' and this weekend suddenly becomes more than I'd like to pay for. So, sans Belgium, you'd think everything was on the down. But, there are two things I possibly have to look forward to:
1. Pau Vallvé is coming to Lleida. For those unaware, Pau Vallvé is one of the greatest Catalan producers and musicians of the modern era. Without him, we'd lack such acts as Estanislau Verdet, U_mä, Maria Coma, Inspira, and Senyors Tranquil. In short, if I had a musical hero he'd be quickly running to surpass whoever that was -- at only 29 he has released 12 albums (four short of Conor Oberst's track record, but has Conor ever produced and mastered other people's albums, and played 90% of the instruments on his own albums while recording and producing them? Nope...)  Okay -- I'll stop lauding him so much, and just say I am quite excited. For €10, this seems like worth going to!

2. People I live with, or friends I have, are interested in going to Primavera Sound! Huzzah! Admittedly, it's €170 for the five days, and I have just said I didn't want to pay €140+ for two flights. So, perhaps I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. I'm not even sure if I'd go to all five days, as the acts which interest me most are playing on the Friday and Saturday. Sure, that'd be €130, but at least I know I would be ticking off a massive chunk of my Bands I Must See Live list. Artists playing on these days include: Belle & Sebastian, Sufjan Stevens, Explosions in the Sky, Kode9 & The Space Ape, The National, Burial, Animal Collective, and Mogwai. Others that aren't confirmed for a specific day include: M. Ward, Islet, The Album Leaf, and The Fiery Furnaces (who kickstarted my love of music outside of the metal genre)

Simply put: things are looking up because I will have music. Music! It's actually making me look beyond the stinking cold I have, with some form of optimism. Sure, travel might be expensive (so my travel blog is getting nothing), and my days are empty (so my brain is turning to mush), but on the horizon there is some music to keep me sane! And with that thought, I, and U_mä, bid you adieu:

Sailing through the Doldrums

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 18 February 2011 at 16:21

I'll be the first to admit that on the blogging front I'm a bit thin-on-the-ground this year. I mean, by this time last year I had already written 11 blog posts. In 2011, I'm only up to a measly 7, this one included. I guess it comes down to the fact that there isn't really much to blog about in Lleida. For that reason, I guess I'll start some travelling as of next weekend.

In the past few days, to bring everyone up to speed, I have attended 2 of 2 classes. Literature and Society, which answered the question "What is Literature?" with the answer "Everything, and nothing" -- helpful, right? And English-Spanish translation, which claimed that Be all you can be, the slogan of the US Army, was a play on words, and that the pretty ladies who work in your planes are in fact stewadresses, rather than stewardesses. I wonder if that means I'm guaranteed a pass mark, or if I'll fail for not having the same lexicon as my teacher? I also sat a placement test for the Spanish course yesterday, in which I learned that I have no clue about Spanish idioms whatsoever. Hopefully everyone else is in the same boat...

I guess what I'm trying to say in all of this is that I feel lost. I have a half-and-half grasp of the language, my classes seem to pose questions and never answer them, and I am without glasses -- I believe this happened just after my last blog post: we went on to Fissure, the local hotspot, and I lost my glasses. I am, therefore, impaired visually. I could have asked last night if any had been handed in, but, since I did get an elbow to the face and pushed into a pillar, I'm sure my glasses would have been crushed underfoot before anyone noticed them. My options are now limited to five months sans glasses, heading to the opticians and taking an eye test in Spanish (should they not accept/believe my prescription), or...actually there is no third option. If you have one, let me know! Answers on a postcard!

So, the plan for today, having got in at 4.30, bed at 5am, lain in bed staring at the ceiling from 1pm til 2.30 when I finally got up... is to do sweet F-A. I see an evening of 30 Rock, or maybe The Big Bang Theory, to keep me sane. Perhaps I'll get around to planning out some proper voyages for these long weekends, unless by some miracle I end up in the Spanish group that has classes on a Thursday evening! If not, with a 4 day weekend, I can see a lot of money being poured into visiting far-flung places. No wonder we were told about that guy who went to Russia during his Easter break -- frankly, I don't blame him. Perhaps the next time we speak I will have good news...and will have finally got around to enrolling on courses!


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 13 February 2011 at 21:38

Hey blog. How're you doing, buddy? Haven't seen you in what seems like forever. I wanted to wait until I'd started all my classes before writing something up, but, I'm just itching to write these days.

So, we're now a flat of five -- two Polish girls, a German girl, an Italian guy, and me. The dueña is rather sweet, like your grandmother if she was playing that role that Michael Caine did in The Cider House Rules. I want her to be like Buenas noches a vosotros, príncipes de Maine, reyes de New England, but right now that's a dream, right? Beyond that, it's all good in the hood. It's a 20minute walk to the University, I have discovered, so that means leaving at 9 for my classes in Literature & Society, History of the Spanish Language, and Translation. Colloquial Spanish is at 8am, so eff that ess, eh? The walk is quite nice too -- either I take Prat de la Riba and watch the shops open, or I walk along Camp de Marts alongside the Seu Vella. Not too shabby.

Getting back on track -- i.e. blogging -- yesterday saw us, (well, two flatmates and a friend) head down to Tarragona. Ignorant as we are to the way the trains work in Spain, we ventured out in the early morning fog, and hopped on the AVANT for the city by the sea. Little did we know that the AVANT stops at Camp de Tarragona, a station 12km outside the city designed for the Alta Velocidad lines that RENFE run. So, one bus ride later finds us in the middle of Tarragona, a city that is mostly undergoing renovations -- if it's not broken, it's in the course of being repaired. The Cathedral was lovely, but was being worked on. The walls probably were nice, but being worked on. On the plus side, they make a lovely ensaïmada, and serve up delicious patates braves and xoriçets en sidra. (The first one is a Catalan pastry, the second is a dish of potatoes with a spicy sauce, and the third is little sausages in a cider-based sauce). So, rather than bore you to death with the intricacies of it all, let's just say it was a good day out, having left the house at 8am and got back at 8pm, which was closely followed by a trip to Fissure, the local hotspot, where I got very, very drunk, stumbled home alone, and passed out til 4pm. All in all, fun is being had.

Time to sum up! What with classes starting tomorrow, and having four day weekends, I'm balancing on a knife edge between the good and the bad. I'll have too much free time, and probably a not a lot of work to do. We'll see how that goes. As for now, it's time to sleep.

New Beginnings

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 4 February 2011 at 18:34

Let me bring you up to speed. The last time we talked -- or you read this -- I was sitting in a fancy-shmansey, just built, top-of-the-line residenza in Italy. Now, I'm sat in a standard Spanish house, 2nd floor, balcony, sofa, general fun-and-games. I don't seem to be able to grasp Spanish, or Catalan, as much as I should when speaking. It seems to come out more like Spanalan, or Catish. In short: people understand me, but it's not the best way to be speaking to them.

Back to the present: I'm now in a house. A little house. Five minutes from the station, so I'm praying to God that the translation module is only on a Thursday or something, because it'll mean having days off. And I like days off. It means I can go places. Places I've never been to before. On the list thus far are Barcelona (been there, just want to test out my camera), Bilbao, Zaragoza, and Perpignon (or Perpinyà in Catalan). I don't much care for the places in Spain, but I'll make do. If there was a cheap enough train, I'd probably hot foot it to Asturias or Galicia, as I hear one does great cider and the other does amazing seafood.

There isn't really much other news to give you, so I'll make do with telling you about the new tumblr I've started. It's punningly good. Or at least the name is. Find it over at the Peregrine Nation. Get it? Peregrine Nation, a nation of pilgrims; peregrination, the vague urge to wander? No? Just me. Oh well, same old, same old.

I guess now it's time to settle in, get comfy and drink a cup of té verde. Speak soon!

End of an Era

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 30 January 2011 at 15:27

I should really be packing right now, but hey-ho, ever the procrastinator! I'm into my last 24hours in Pavia, and I'm totes unprepared for all of this. It really is a move I'm not quite looking forward to much...

So, first piece of business: apologies to anyone (i.e. everyone) I didn't see before leaving. The plan for Safarà last night was pretty hastily thought up, not realising the Eurodinner probably killed most of you, and the fact that sitting alone for 45minutes really makes you want to go elsewhere. So, while a night out in that lovely little establishment would have been nice with y'all, I ended up in Malaika on Aperol Spritz con San Simone; followed by a Dominus Triple in the Black Bull. Same old, really.

There isn't really much to say in this blog without going overboard, so I'll just let it all go and say:

I'm actually going to miss Pavia, a lot. I guess I came here with no real expectations. I was told it was going to be a casino, which at first it was. I had the best journey down ever -- having crossed over rolling plains, cascading rivers, and high mountain passes -- only to end up in a little town that nobody had heard of. I wasn't in contact with any of the Erasmus folks here for about four days, but then, once I was, I met the most amazing people.
I'd already done the whole Spanish Society Executive last year, so I knew of the Erasmus lifestyle, but I didn't realise that it was a constant, world-over. I didn't think I'd come here and meet Argentinian, Costa Rican, Portuguese, Turkish, Irish, and American people and spark up friendships with them. Heck, I thought I was going to be the type to just cling to the Cardiff gang...which I guess I did at first, before spending more time just doing my own thing.
I've seen other Italian cities, and only Venice comes close to stealing the crown from Pavia. I wouldn't trade this place for anything in the world. I'm going to struggle to enjoy Lleida at first, just because it's not Pavia. It's not the place where I have so many friends and acquaintances from all over the world. It's not the place where I can wake up and spend €2,30 on a cappuccino and a brioche in a café where I am a semi-regular. It's not the place where I can stand at 8am on a sunny day and see the Alps. It's not the place where I can eat pizza at 3am on a Saturday night in good company.
In short: Pavia has made a huge impression on me. I was never interested in coming to Italy beforehand, because it always seemed a juxtaposition between the big cities like Milan and Turin, and the olive groves in the countryside. But, Pavia was the perfect mix. It was never really busy, but it was never the middle of nowhere. It was a nice second home. I will miss it.

And now for my regrets:
1. I never got to see Genoa. I kept promising myself I'd go, and then I got weighed down by exams. Quite the shame, but I guess it gives me an excuse to come back.
2. I never learnt how to make risotto alla milanese from scratch.
3. My glow-in-the-dark t-shirt only ever elicited the response of "Cool t-shirt, bro"
3b. Unlike 90% of Erasmus (I assume...) I didn't once act on any of my crushes, likes, or whatever you want to call them. So that girls oblivious to it all. Je suis désolé.

But, this year isn't all about globe-trotting, gastronomy and getting it on, so what am I moaning about? I have met amazing people, stayed in a brilliant place, and I'm going to miss it a hell of a lot.

A tutti i Pavesi ed Erasmini: vi voglio bene, amici. Mi mancherete tanto!

Time is Running Out

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Sunday, 23 January 2011 at 13:53

You know me. You know I like to procrastinate in the face of oncoming pressures. That's exactly what I'm doing by writing this blog. I have an Art History exam on Wednesday, but I haven't looked at anything properly yet. Huzzah! Then again, this time last week I was moaning that I'd never pass my Italian Literature exam, and yet I aced it with an Ottimo (the highest band of marks you can get, for you non-Italians) from putting in very little work, and doing a lot of bullshitting around the point.

It's just over a week - like 8 days - until I pack up my troubles, hop on a flight, and trundle on slowly towards Lleida. I actually feel like I haven't got enough time left. I was given the good advice to do everything I haven't done yet, but with this exam, and going home, I have only 1 day to do anything and that's a Sunday, so it's highly unlikely that anything can be done! I guess it'll all work out in the end, right? Sure.

In other news, I'm kind of keeping up with my one resolution to keep up with New Music. It's just a shame that it's only January and the New Music isn't coming quite fast enough for me. Albums which I have checked out thus far and enjoyed include the new Decemberists album (The King is Dead) and the new Minks album (By the Hedge), which means I have liked one album a week since they have begun releases in 2011. Next on the list is Dolorean (The Unfazed), but I'm not too sure of it...

Anyhow, kids and kidettes. I'd best get myself into gear and start learning, eh? May as well get a decent grading for this half of the year!


Posted by Alex | | Posted On Saturday, 15 January 2011 at 12:42

I feel like I’ve been a bit of a letdown on the blogging front lately. I really haven’t had the time to get around to it. That’s a total lie, considering my studying has gone to pot already. I just guess I haven’t thought of anything interesting to say. So, what I say now is just stuff pulled out of the ether in order to make some coherent blog post!

Since I posted last, not a lot has happened really. I’ve passed two linguistics exams – though only one counts towards my degree – and I’ve failed miserably at reading all the novels I have to for my Literature exam on Thursday. I have time, though. I keep telling myself that; maybe I should start telling myself I have no time for messing around instead.

I’ve worked out that I don’t have much time left in Pavia. 16 days and I’m gone. It’s not a good feeling. I suppose I have to thank Jen for trying to put a positive spin on it all, when all I could think was “Lleida won’t be Pavia” – I’m trying to save all my “I love this place so much” points for my pre-leaving blog, but it’s quite difficult to do when you know you’re ultimately going to a strange place, with a language you’re not overly confident with, and have to start over again just because the University says you have to. I’d much rather have taken on a Spanish course here in Pavia, and done a full year here…but I digress from the awesomesauce that has been the last 7 days.

There has been many a pizza session and many attempts at ‘study’ with the gang, – that is Rebecca, Roxy and Brandon – and thankfully, last night evolved from a quiet drink at the Black Bull (man, have I missed drinking Weißbier!), into seeing people I haven’t seen in a long time because I’ve been a shit, indoor Erasmus. Follow that up with finding out that Irish people find the use of the word “hair lacquer” to be strange, 2am conversations with Jen, 3am Tiramisù with Roxy and Rebecca, and waking up to the Castello Visconti covered in fog, and I can say it was one of the best nights of the year thus far. Heck, the only downside was walking to the bus stop in the clothes I wore last night, making me look way overdressed for 12.30 on a Saturday – Chelsea boots, paisley shirt, floral tie, burgundy sweater; I really went ‘all out’ on dressing myself up. Still, this is Italy; they probably just thought I was trying to be like mio papà…

Beyond everything in the past, there is only what I have to look forward to: I need to book a flight to Lleida, or at the least Barcelona. I need to contact Joan Carles about getting myself booked into a hostel so I can house hunt while I’m there. I need to finish reading Jacopo Ortis, and Dante, and get my head around Parini and Petrarca by Thursday. Oh, so much to do, so little time to enjoy my last days in this gem of a city. *SIGH*

Manic Panic

Posted by Alex | | Posted On Friday, 7 January 2011 at 23:31

It seems as though I haven't written a blog in a long time. I think it must have been at least two weeks by now. I keep meaning to write one, just to prove I'm still alive, but it seems that not a lot has happened since the last one. The usual antics happened at home, so you don't need a list of drinks I drank and food I ate. I also managed to waste a whopping 12 days playing Fallout: New Vegas, and I think I'm now a convert to the Fallout universe. So addictive.

Anyhow, I'm back in Pavia, and it's very cold. It was barely 2ºC when I landed on Wednesday afternoon. I have no idea what it is now, but it's very cold! Epiphany was two days ago (as it's now Saturday), but I gave that a miss by catching up on my sleep. I have three full days until my written exam for Linguistics, and then another two til my oral. The others, thankfully, are a bit later in the month, but I really need to knuckle down and start learning stuff or be prepared to fail through failing to prepare.

If I get some time, I'd like to get one last trip somewhere in. I keep on about going to Novara, to see the Basilica  built by Antonielli, the same man who designed the synagogue (now cinema museum) in Turin. So, perhaps I'll go there after my art history exam if I have the time. It'd be a nice way to test out my swanky new camera before going to Spain -- that's a hassle in itself that probably deserves a blog once I've splashed out the cash on getting myself there, and half of my junk sent back home! Such a pain; some days I wish I could just stay in Italy and do a Spanish course here for my credits back home.

Anyhow, with much revision to be doing over the next three days, and 4 books to read and analyse in 12 days, I think I've got my work cut out for me. And that doesn't even bring in my Art History exam in 18 days. Oh well, wish me luck! I'm sure as hell going to need it!