Making friends

3 Sep

Remember the first week in the dorms? That feeling stretched over the first couple weeks of being here in Bologna and meeting some of Colin’s classmates. What’s your name? Where are you from? What are you studying?

I feel compelled to tell people I wasn’t a student at SAIS (School of Advanced International Studies—the name of Johns-Hopkins international studies master’s degree program) before they had a chance to ask about my focus.

Most people were really cool about it, especially those we met early on. Maybe early-arrivers are a self-selected bunch of people who are a little anxious and a little eager—be it about housing or making friends. More than one person expressed jealousy that I’ll be here with more time to do all of the fun stuff and none of the homework.

Compared to our (self-imposed) reclusive lifestyle in Taipei and three months of very little contact with friends, the first weeks here were a whirlwind of social activities: pizza dinners, beers in Piazza Verdi, apertivo, and straight-up college house parties with angry neighbors threatening to call the police next time.

We still drink out of plastic cups, but they’re filled with wine. There’s music playing, but since the speakers had to fit into a suitcase, no one can hear it. And I found myself discussing the pros and cons of a device like a kindle, which I believe is doing damaging things to the book-swapping community.

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