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Besana in Brianza: the big reveal

Obviously tears were flowing at Machester aiport as I hugged my mum goodbye. After my experience of ERASMUS in Spain, I was apprehensive about starting this second placement to say the least. If you don't know already, I'm a language student. For my 3rd year I have to study abroad to esentially prove that I can function abroad. 

This time, I was going to italy. To a little village called Besana, found in the hills known as "brianza." I found this placement through a friend of mine, whose auntie was the headteacher of the school in the village. From what I'd seen on google images, there wasn't much to do and I was nervous about coming in case I'd be bored. 

However, I've never been to Italy before, despite studying the language at degree level. This added an element of excitement. 

In the months leading up to the placement I had been in contact with the headteacher with regards to signing documents, sharing details ect. From this, I was put in contact with one of the English teachers from the school. We were talking regularly and he made me feel incredibly welcome and looked after even before I had arrived. 

My plane took off in the middle of storm Ciara. I'd had a hastle with the Ryan Air woman at the gate who decided she could try and get some money out of me. I was not in the mood and I was getting increasingly more nervous. I though to myself, "what the hell am I doing?" 

The flight was cloudy and there was some turbulance. Then, all of a sudden, the clouds cleared and I saw huge snow dusted mountains underneath me, and still, clear lakes within them. It was breathtaking. I didn't realise we were near Italy until the piolet announced that we would be landing to Bergamo. The landscape revealed itself to us as we decended, and my breath caught in my throat as I realised this would be my new home, my new view, with these mountains. 

I'd been planning on taking the train to Besana from Bergamo, which would have been around 1hr 45 minutes. But, as I came through the gate I was met by a sweet little old man holding a sign with my name on it. It was the teacher I had been talking to. He had come to pick me up, and my heart melted. He had his cousin with him, and I was absolutely terrified as I realised that I needed to remeber my Italian, here and now (I hadn't spoken any since may!). It came flooding back to me though, and I survived a whole car ride to my host family's home. It turnd out the teacher is also my neighbour. 

Once we dropped my bags, he introduced me to my host family and arranged to meet me in the morning to take me to the school. 

My accomodation wowed me. I'm staying in the bottom floor of their home, which has been converted into a self sufficent apartment. It's beautiful. I even have my own bathroom. Once they had showed me around, they invited me to have tea with them. Of course, me, the foodie, agreed immediately. 

The dinner was incredible, and I got to know the family some more and met their 12 year old daughter and 2 cats. They were such genuinely, lovely people and I felt so welcomed in their home already, and I'd only been in Italy a couple of hours!

I laid in bed that night thinking how different it was to my first night in Spain where I cried all night and already hated it. 

I did have a scare in the morning though! As I was changing the bin bags, I heard a tap on the window. I was meant to be alone in the apartment as the family had already left to work. I froze. Looked up, and there was an old man poking his head through my window waving at me. I nearly screamed. He introduced himself as the gardener- not the robber I had imagined. 

At 11, the teacher picked me up and we walked towards to school together. He then decided to show me around the village for a bit. It turns out, he knows every man and his dog. I'd met half the village before I got to the main square where the market was being held. The smell of hot food hit me, the sun was cleaming and the view of the mountains in the backround was breathtaking. I did get a few comments though. I was wearing a shirt and a skirt as the weather was beautiful and warm, whereas all the Italians were wrapped up in coats, hats and scarves. You can take the girl out of the north but you can't take the north out of the girl. 

He decided to show me around the village. We walked up to the town hall and he took me inside, where i was presented to the staff as their new civillian and then met with the town's librarian. She handed me a calendar and some leaflets about beni culturali (monuments) in the town. They even tried to take me to see the mayor, but he wasn't in. 

We arrive at school, and the same scenario ensued. Everyone was so excited to meet me and talk to me, it felt so lovely to be treated like that. I was really afraid that me being English in a little village would cause a bit of racket but instead there was just an excitment that filled the air. Me and the English teachers went for a coffee in the café across the road. 

They did the most Italian thing though as we walked. A car pulled out of a junction without looked, and all 2 of them in unison put their middle finger to their thumb, shook their hand, said mama mia and jeered at the driver. I tried my best not to die laughing. Italian's really do live up to their stereotypes. 

After our coffee, some students were asked to take me on a tour round the school. This was a lovely experience, and I was wowed by the school and its atmosphere. Everyone looked genuinely happy? The walls were covered in drawings, and the children seemed content and didn't stop talking about how amazing their teachers were. There was also a massive statue of Scratch from Iceage which I think has become my favourite monuent in all of Italy- screw the collosseum! The younger students did look terrified of me though, like I was some kind of alien, and I guess to them I am. 

At lunch, they fought over who would sit on the table with me. They told me how bad their canteen food was, so obviously I was a bit nervous to try it, but it turned out to be a really nice pasta that I would probaly get in an Italian place back in york! the students were very disapproving of this. 

I participated in one of the younger classes (11 years old) and we made 2 big postcards, one from York and one from Besana. Granted, it did take 50 minutes for them to draw York perfectly in bubble writing, but they did some lovely drawings of the landmarks and understood my instructions perfectly. 

As overwhelming as my first day has been, I describe the joy and excitement I'm feeling. I'm looking forward to starting my job properly, to exploring and actually being able to enjoy my placement. I hope this high stays for the whole time. 

Until next time,

Leah 

ps: Italian supermarkets, please stop using so much plastic!!! 


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