The beginning of a long-lasting Italian friendship

My stay in Italy was an amazing time. Even though it was “just” three months, I experienced a very intense and instructive time in Cesena. Intense, because it was merely three months when I had the possibility to see life in Cesena and to become familiar with some unfamiliar aspects of a different lifestyle and culture that were unfamiliar to me before. Instructive, as I got the chance during my stay to broaden my mind and to go beyond myself thanks to interesting acquaintance which I made as well as diverse challenges I had to cope with. It is really startling how fast I got used to or became familiar with circumstances and people, both considerably foreign or unfamiliar to me at the very beginning of my stay. For that reason I would like to write about a person I met, how I perceived her at the beginning and how our relationship during my residence chanced. From my viewpoint I am going to reflect this intercultural relationship, how I felt or observed the first contact between us and how this process of a very valuable intercultural encounter changed my self-perception and in some aspects even my attitude towards life.
I will start at the beginning of my Erasmus adventure; searching for a room in a flat share. On the facebook group “affitasi offro/cerco stanza Cesena” I came upon an interesting offer for a chamber and there I got the first time in contact with Katia, an Italian girl who studies in Cesena. Katia seemed a serious but very helpful person. She patiently responded to all my questions I had and organized everything with the renter who I had to pay my rent and all the other accessory charges for the room. Knowing that I was going to live with Katia, an obliging and organized person, had a calming effect on me and my tensity about the arrival. I was concerned about my language skills then still, Italian is not my mother tongue and misunderstandings are always the risk in a foreign language and who knews how well I would finally be able to cope with that. But as mentioned before, Katia gave me a released feeling for my concerns about all the uncertainty which I got confronted with.

Finally the end of February arrived, the day of my journey to Cesena. My feelings where mixed with excitement, nervousness, confusion, anxiety and curiosity all at the same time when I rang the bell at Via Uberti 53, my home during my residence. After all arrived in the flat, I met all my room mates; Alice, Lucie and the girl I already knew by writing Katia. All together we had a small chat about the journey and how the rules work in this shared flat and then everyone disappeared in their rooms. It was strange the first time in my room in Cesena, the room was huge and I felt lonely but happy at the same time as I was excited about my three months of Erasmus.

The first few days in my new flat with my new home mates were very different from what I already knew in Bern and from what I expected. I was used to cooking together, eating together and often having nice chats together in the kitchen. I missed that very much at the beginning and Katia, who I expected to be very a lovely chatty person, was rarely at home and very often in her own room. However, that chanced after a few days. More and more often Katia and I had breakfast together and after she had her coffee had gorgeous chats about everything that bothered us. Day by day we got closer and we talked, we laughed, we teased each other, we studied and had a lot of fun together. She showed me some particularly Italian behaviour patterns and I did the same for the typical Swiss manners, which always made us burst out laughing. Eventually I went out with her, met her friends, went with her for shopping (which was always a real jamboree), ate pizzas and gelatos, went with her to see her family in Cento and to sum it up in short, we enjoyed it very much together.

The acquaintance with Katia did enrich me in so many ways. The most momentous lesson I took out of this beautiful experience is that I have to give things time to develop and not to judge someone or something at the very first moment. I will definitely carry with me the message to be open to everything and everyone, to language, new habits and various lifestyles. I think I could experience the feeling of going beyond my own borders, to be more open-minded about things I do not know, for things that are strange. As you give all these aspects time, patience and a chance become familiar and invaluable.

Sarah Bargetzi

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