Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Back to School

Day One of Italian lessons and Caroline has spent the entire night, and much of the previous day, convincing herself that she speaks no Italian at all. I need to judge the atmosphere with absolute precision here. Do I go straight into full-on Supportive Hubby mode, bouncing along with with smiles, hugs, and "it'll be alright"s; or is this a situation best played as if nothing untoward was happening at all. I decide this is not the morning to be Mr Life and Soul, and choose the latter. It turns out to be the right choice, and I award myself a bonus Hubby Point.

As it turns out, enrolling really isn't that bad. We've already completed the online application and test; but there's a short written test and a brief interview to go through first, in order that they can be reasonably sure of our level. As it turns out, we're Level 4 of 5 (or Upper Intermediate, if you like). I feel quite chuffed.

Our Italian isn't bad. Trouble is, it's not really that great either. The Great Printer Humiliation excepted, we can pretty much do everything we need to do; but we can't do it with much ease or spontaneity. If The Project is to succeed, we need to get better. So we're signed up for a three-month intensive course with the Istituto Venezia, based in Campo Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro; a pleasant twenty minute stroll for us. Four hours a day, five days a week, everything in Italian - nearly five years worth of evening classes condensed into twelve weeks. This, surely, will set us right.

We're a cosmopolitan bunch in our class. Not everybody is there for the long haul, but, at the moment, we're made up of : three Swiss, two Russians, a Catalan, a Venezuelan, a Colombian, a Japanese woman, a Dutchwoman, an Englishwoman, and a Scot. I'm the only Welshman. Actually, I'm the only man. They all seem like nice people : this is going to be hard work , but it's going to be fun as well. There's a welcome party organised for us at the end of the first day's lessons, with Prosecco and tasty bar snacks. I talk to the Dutch lady for a while. It turns out her husband works for a company called Unisys. I nearly choke on my Prosecco at this point - Unisys make a product called URBIS, the support of which utterly blighted my last three years with the bank! I'm sure he's a lovely chap and had nothing to do with it, so I tell her nothing of the nights of utter horror it caused me. Small world, though, eh?

Finally a big thank you to the Italian Institute back in Edinburgh ,who granted us a bursary which knocks off a full 50% of the cost of the course. And grazie Carlo, grazie Caterina for all those evening classes - finally, it seems, they're paying off!


  1. That's a big commitment you've undertaken! Buona fortuna, and you can be my interpreters when I come to visit Venice again.

    Have you shopped upstairs at the Punta supermercato yet? It's not bad.

  2. Aye, it's a bit of a commitment, but the better our Italian is, the easier everything else should become. At least, that's the theory!

    Just been to Punta the once, for nothing more exciting than a jar of pepper - we should give it another go.


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