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Crash Course in Italian: Apartment Hunting

December is here! Time for hot spiced wine and decadent desserts, christmas lights on the streets and glittering christmas trees at every corner. And today marked Milan’s first snowfall of the season too! ‘Tis the season to be jolly! Except for those pesky 5 projects and 6 exams that are due in the next two weeks. And then theres the small issue of that apartment hunt…

For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been busy spreading yuletide cheer to those far and near by calling up strangers multiple times a day with the most friendliest “BUONGIORNO!”  I can muster and basically inviting myself into their homes. Due to some inconvenient circumstances I’ll most likely be moving soon, and in an attempt to reduce the burden on my stress level and my wallet I was hoping to do so well before finals hit. Everyday after school this week I’ve been filtering through school emails, bulletin postings, website listings, and yes even the AFFITTASI signs plastered on buildings around the neighborhood. While it has unfortunately put a dent in my study time, in terms of building my language skills its been pretty helpful – it’s quite possible I’ve spoken more Italian in the last two weeks with landlords than since I moved here. The best part is that when I apologize and say I only speak a little Italian, they continue to speak at the same speed. So I try my best, but making appointments to see places when you only understand about half the conversation can sometimes lead to, errr, interesting situations…

Apt #1) Checking out a 1br that an alum tipped me off to. The apartment is a little far, but its in a great area and just a stones throw away from all the good shopping (WIN.) I meet the landlord, a nice man who I’d guess to be about 60 years old, at the bus stop and proceed to have a lengthy conversation in Italian with him about where I’m from, what I’m doing, etc. Great street, great building, but upon walking into the apartment I realize the the 1br I thought I was seeing was actually a studio with a pull out couch for a bed. What are the chances that he probably told me already? I’d say 75%. And the probability that he was hitting on me when he told me I’m beautiful and invited me to coffee or gelato? NEXT.

Apt #2) Ok, this time I’ve seen pictures of the place, I’ve talked to the guy a bit on the phone, I know what I’m walking into right? Thought so, until I shook his hand, and then shook the hand of his roommate (or MY roommate) who would also be in the apartment. He also threw in a good MBA/NBA joke that, due to my mental translating delay, only registered a good 5 seconds after he had laughed and I had already stared blankly at him. Woops.

Apt #3) Alright, I have a good feeling about this one. I had a 5 minute phone conversation with the landlord, texted him a few times, and got a pretty good description of the place. I meet with him and he mentions something to the effect about the girl being there for another two weeks, no big deal. I walk in, look around, notice that theres two single beds instead of one – not the best thing but I work with the landlord on that. As I’m wondering if I could see myself living here, the girl (a Bocconi undergrad) transitions into English and starts telling me about how shes doing an exchange in the fall and is leaving in Sept. Ok…. why is she telling me this? Ahhh, its because she doesn’t WANT to move in two weeks, but the landlord may be kicking her out if she doesn’t find a roommate. Information that was most likely relayed to me before I walked in. So suddenly I was faced with the options of either living with this chick or kicking her to the curb if she can’t find someone to live with and taking it for myself. Awesome! Needless to say, I did the classic “Don’t call me, I’ll call you” move and peaced out as fast as I could.

While admittedly I have a lot of work to do before I can master Italiano, I always admire those people who, when visiting or moving to a new country, are not afraid to speak the language even if they don’t know how to say things perfectly.  Its the kind of student and traveler I want to become. After all, they say the best way to learn something is to make mistakes first, right?

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