A Bilingual Dinner and Notes

Saturday, September 17, 2011


You probably all think I was lying about the whole “I will be posting on Fridays” thing, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But first:

This post is sort of long, so have some Arno before you dive in:


Yesterday was my birthday, and in some mysterious way my homestay mother* managed to find out about this. I did not tell her, so I can only assume that her Italian Woman Superpowers told her. There’s a slight chance that my school or housemate told her, but I’m 90% positive the Superpowers are responsible. (In case you were wondering, among these powers are Super-Cooking and the ability to make the human stomach accommodate far more food than should be possible. Please note: this research is in progress and an exhaustive list of the powers has not been finished.)

Well, it turns out that my homestay mother’s friend, who is also a homestay host, has the same birthday as I do. Or possibly around the same day, sometimes specifics get lost in translation. This, of course, meant that there must be a party. The Italians never miss a chance to eat. So, last night my homestay mother’s friend brought her son and two homestay students over for a dinner party.

It was definitely the most interesting birthday I have ever had (including that one when the hurricane hit and we had no power). There was eating, there was talking, there was laughter, there was drinking of wine, there was quite a bit of moving chairs around, and traipsing in and out of the house following mostly-understood Italian directions, but mainly there was eating and talking. And while the food was 100% traditional Tuscan, the conversation was not quite that. But, it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced.

Being that there were four English speakers at varying degrees of skill level in Italian and three Italian speakers, the conversation was an amalgamation of the two languages. From trying to decide whether the U.S. had a Bancomat equivalent (Yes to the ATMS, no to the cards) to a minor disagreement on whether NYU’s obsession with macs is annoying (it is), the main talking occurred mostly in Italian with English asides. At one point, one of the American boys was explaining in Italian the process of buying a New York apartment. In the middle of this he paused and said “rent,” was promptly told the Italian word for it, and continued in Italian.

Once the adults left to have their cigarettes in the garden, we all sat around the table and spoke half in English and half in Italian. My housemate managed to coax out of the Italian boy the story of how he met his girlfriend on the internet. Much laughing ensued when we found out they met through an online game called "Guns."

Eventually, they said their goodbyes, and we said goodnight to our homestay mother and traipsed up to our rooms. I checked clock and found that 3 ½ hours had passed unnoticed. It was a good day.

*I’m not a big footnote person, but as this is not something I’ve mentioned yet, and it is not part of the story I’ll make an exception. While I’m studying in Italy I’m living in the home of an Italian family, and generally homestay students refer to their host families according to their positions in the family. Thus, homestay mother.

Some Notes:

One: I didn’t post yesterday, because it was my birthday, but I’m thinking about changing my posting days to Saturday. Often, the things that I want to post about happen on Fridays, so I think I’ll have more to talk about if I post on Saturdays instead.

Two: I’m working on something for the blog which won’t be finished in time for this post, but should be up in a couple days.

Three: If you ask me a question in the comments, I will respond in the comments of that same blog post.

Four: I saw this while out and about the other day. It is a knife shop, and what is most amusing about this knife shop is that they seem to sell every kind of knife ever invented. Cooking knives, hunting knives, butter knives, camping knives, and general swiss army can all be found at your friendly neighborhood knife store. Just pop by for all your knifing needs.


If you have any questions about Gilman or studying abroad, please leave them in comments, and I will either answer them, or try to point you toward someone who can.

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