I arrived at the collegio a couple days before my trip to England, but so little happened that it’s almost not worth mentioning. When I returned from the Motherland, the collegio was still almost completely empty. Because the mensa (cafeteria) wouldn’t open until the end of the month, I decided to do some shopping. As I passed through the portineria (entrance where we go to get mail) I decided to ask the porter at the front desk where a supermarket was. As he was explaining it to me, a small Asian girl came in. I say small in reference to normal people, as far as Asians go, she was average height. She overheard our conversation and invited me to go shopping with her. As we walked to the supermarket, I talked with her and learned all sorts of things, like her name, Valentina. She also informed me that there was a group of students who had returned to the college to study for and take exams throughout September. She invited me to dinner and I got to meet tons of Italians, who over the next three weeks would become my good friends.
I’d love to recount all the good times we had, but I’m lazy, so instead, I’ll give a brief summary. We all met up every day for lunch and dinner. We never had a meal that took less than three hours, so this didn’t leave much time for anything except getting to know my new friends. They’re an interesting bunch. Here at the collegio, every guy has a nickname that was assigned to him his first year so I learned quickly to only ask for nicknames and not real names. To this day I could probably call five guys by their actual names. Over the following weeks, our group slowly grew as more and more collegiates returned and came to join us.
Then came the day when our world turned upside down. An Erasmus student had arrived, and she was (according to our sources) hot. The excitement was tangible, especially when the most outgoing member of our group, Sacco (Short for Mano in Sacco, which means ‘hand in the bag’), invited her to dinner. That night, our normal table settings were made a bit more sophisticated by the addition of a table cloth. Here I should specify that the table cloth was in fact, just a blanket. In true Italian style, everyone dressed a bit better for this dinner because they wanted to impress the hot German. When she mentioned that she was 26 and had a boyfriend, the conversation slowed and I watched everyone’s disappointment. Everyone, that is, except for the 21 year old Sacco who proceeded to learn how to say ‘I’m 23’ in German.
The next Erasmus student that arrived, Harry, was greeted warmly, but without flair because he was male. He assimilated into our group without trouble because, despite the fact he studies at Oxford, he’s quite friendly. His part in this story will be short, because his arrival and that of the next Erasmus, Philippe (French) were overshadowed by the arrival of another figa (literally: vagina. Figuratively: hot girl). The girl frenzy recommenced. This time, it was a British named Emily, a student at Cambridge. Once again, the crowd was disappointed by the news of a boyfriend, but Sacco was not daunted by such an easily surmounted obstacle and continued to throw down some heavy flirting.
Over the next several weeks, the college came to life. After a strike at the university, which lasted two weeks for some departments, everyone had finally returned and started classes.