My bus from Brindisi got into Lecce around midnight on Sunday. Everyone else on the bus went their separate ways except for me and a random girl. As we both sat there waiting at a dark and foreign bus stop, we figured out that we were both from U of O and doing the Lecce program. She had returned to the airport with hopes of retrieving her lost luggage. Her visit was far from successful. After about ten minutes, a little silver car came tearing into the parking lot and the door swung open, letting out a flurry of giggles and then a very attractive Italian girl. The other UO student and I crammed into the back of the vehicle and I came to be acquainted with Lucia and Desiree our extra-didactic connections in Lecce.
Before long, we made it to my apartment and called up. My Italian roommate, Francesco Pace, let us in. He was in the middle of spending time with four of his friends. As I wandered in, sleep deprived and probably looking like I had just lost a fight, they all greeted me enthusiastically. I talked to them a little in Italian, and they were psyched. Another one of my roommates, Cory, had arrived a week earlier and didn't speak a word of Italian. He and Francesco, who didn't speak English, had been talking using hand signs and google translate. After I met all of Francesco's friends, I honestly couldn't think of anything else to say, so after standing silently in his doorway for an unreasonable amount of time. I muttered something to the effect of , "I need to sleep," and took my leave.
I woke at 7:30 the next morning feeling spiffy. After a shower I had a real conversation with my American roommates, Cory and Zach and then we headed off to school. Our school is about a twenty minute walk from our apartment. This walk takes us to the opposite side of town and passes right through il centro and several important piazze. It was a nice introduction to the city of Lecce. Upon reaching some sort of prison, we entered the gates and headed up to the top floor. As it turns out, the University di Salento building is under construction and the language school has been relocated to this building. We were all sent to different class rooms where we were to take the placement test for the language program. Mine was administered by the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Luckily, she wasn't too distracting and I was able to do my test.
After we all finished testing, we headed over to the UniSalento student center where we were officially welcomed by a buffet of amazing foods. I tried a little of everything, but I was particularly taken by these little panini. They were just a piece of ciabatta bread, one slice of salami, and one slice of some white cheese, but they were the most glorious things I have ever tasted. My friend Alice and I each had two and were thoroughly contented.
We got back to our apartment after, and I passed out for several hours, while Cory and Zac planned a dinner. When I awoke, they informed me that we were having a couple other people from the program over for dinner later that night. First, however, we headed off on a tour of Lecce. During this time, a bunch of people decided to buy phones. They all grouped up and had one guide translating for them. It was a giant mess and seemed really unpleasant, so I just went and talked to someone on my own. I skipped the line and was able to set up my phone in about ten minutes.
Later that night, five of our new friends came over with a bit of wine. What I mean by a bit is that we ended up with seven bottles of wine and eight people, a slightly skewed ratio, I know. We had a fantastic pasta dinner and we all tried tons of different kinds of wine, including Lambrusco and a wine made at a nearby shop. When we finally finished our dinner (and all the wine) it was about eleven o' clock, so we decided to head into the center of town. We made our way Piazza Sant'Oronzo and then Piazza Santa Chiara where we hung out for a while. Then we all started getting sleepy so we decided to go home.
Cory, Zach, and I, being the guys in the group decided (were told that) we were going to walk some of the girls home. We walked our friend Mary to her apartment with no problem, however, our friend Emily's apartment was a mystery. She had been reduced to tears earlier in the day after searching for her apartment for hours. Being guys, we were sure we could find it without a problem. So we followed our map to her street, where the map promptly ended and we were left to fend for ourselves. We wandered for twenty minutes and Emily was getting a bit weepy, but in the end we found her apartment and felt pretty good about ourselves. Then we wandered back home, taking some strange, winding streets.
The next day was our first day of class. We wandered to the school and had four hours or so of learning time. It was pretty great. In the afternoon, after my now traditional lunch of Nutella and a loaf of fresh baked bread (costing about o,25 E) I got a call from Elisabetta, my Italian friend who I met in Eugene. She took Cory and I out to get some gelato and showed us around Lecce. She showed us her liceo (high school) and a nice little book shop. It was great getting to see her, as she won't be back in Lecce until the end of July.
That night, we had our extra-curricular classes and I was in the sculpture class based on Lecce's famous stone, Pietra Leccese. Our badass teacher showed us some of his works and explained all the basics to us, and next week we're going to start our own works. After class, my friend Spencer and I headed off to get him a phone. While we were at the phone store, we ran into a couple other friends and decided to all get pizza together. We wandered until we finally found a pizzeria and we had a delicious dinner. After dinner, we were able to watch the last several minutes of the Portugal-Spain game. It was beyond sad watching Spain destroy Portugal. Seriously, really sad. So sad that we all just headed home and went to bed early.