A late week two post–I was waiting on receiving some photos. Written at the end of the second week:
I don’t want to believe it but week two has come and gone, and it included a brief visit from my parents. As far as the classroom goes, there were four of us students this week, and once again the other three outclassed me when it came to fluency. I definitely feel a small improvement in comprehension–I understand the sense of nearly everything said to me, whereas two weeks ago I would have to ask for repetition even in simple sentences or questions. I still struggle to get the words out when I speak, though. I find that starting a sentence is the most difficult part. Once I get going with a thought or story, I do quite well speaking, although I admit that it is hard to remember what I have said because I am always searching for the next word or the next phrase; because of this, I’ve definitely rambled while recounting something as well as omitted a significant detail–precision will come.
Outside the classroom, I divided my time between my parents and the couple of friends I have made in town. Fortunately, it worked out well because my friends usually work during the days and are free at night when my parents were exhausted from a day of tourism. The can’t-miss place for us was Salerno (my last name!), which is a fairly large city about an hour away from Sorrento. While my family does not hail from Salerno (Sicily, actually), it was still neat to see the city whose name I bear. Salerno is much more “Italian” than Sorrento. Sorrento is a grand touristy town that can feel a bit sleepy at times, while Salerno is a larger functioning Italian city. I didn’t see a single tourist there, and the locals spoke really only Italian so I was the translator for my parents when ordering food, shopping, reading political banners, asking for directions, reading inscriptions, etc. One funny occurrence: my mother bought a belt there for my older brother and the proprietor was taken aback when he saw the name on the card–that roused a laugh out of all of us and spurred him on to give us a mini history of the town. He finished by exhorting us to be proud of our last name, all in Italian. The man was so animated and captivating that I thought for a second I was listening to Coach Herb Brooks before the US beat the Russians. That man needs a coaching job ASAP.
As a classics major, the visit I took to Herculaneum, one of the ancient towns covered by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D., was one of the most enriching days I could have asked for. Having just taken the Archaeology of Ancient Rome course, it was encouraging that I could look at a fresco, wall, window, or room of a house and remember the purpose of the style or engineering.
While being a tourist with my parents was fun, the best parts of my week were when I had the chance to further develop friendships with a couple local buddies in the evenings. Those interactions have greatly augmented my learning because I am constantly engaging with them and am called to respond to Italian in Italian about a much wider variety of topics–it’s without a doubt a different vocabulary with friends shooting the breeze from that of the classroom. I look forward to continuing to interact with these friends in the coming weeks.
I am very excited for next week in class because I will be one on one with the instructor–more demanding and more tailored to my weaknesses. A presto!