|A view over the Ticino river - Ponte Coperto and the Duomo in the far right|
So here I am a week after leaving Pavia writing my last ever blog of my Erasmus year! I can now say that I am officially no longer an Erasmus student! This is sad in one way, but time goes on, and I have had an incredible year to be thankful for. I guess I'm now in a kind of limbo between Erasmus and Final year, but with three whole months of freedom in front of me. Two of which are continued in Italy where I have already started my au pairing job! (More on this to come). During my last few days in Pavia I went on a bit of a photo-taking mission, and below are some of my favourites of this incredible city.
|The Duomo - Piazza Duomo|
|Ponte Coperto and the Duomo through a fence!|
|View from the Ponte Coperto|
|Sunset over the Ticino|
|Piazza della Vittoria!|
|The University of Pavia|
On Tuesday the 26th of June I had my exam for the film translation class. I went along at 9.30am which was the advertised time; however I didn’t actually get to do my exam until 12.30! This was because the room was full of Italian students and Erasmus students go last! I just can’t believe that everyone has to go along at the same time and then they have to wait in a boiling hot room for hours until their turn! What a stupid system. My exam went very well though (when I finally got to speak to the teacher), and she said she liked my essay a lot and gave me 30/30 e lode! This is the maximum you can get here! I can’t believe how freely they give high grades- or maybe this was because I am Erasmus. I didn't end up visiting the 'Cinque Terre' after all last week, and I'm beginning to think that now I'll never get to go as I've had three attempts at planned trips during my time in Pavia and none of them have worked out! However, there is time in the future and I might end up going with Barbara and Mattia during the summer! Instead I had a lovely day visiting Bergamo for a second time, but with Flo this time. We had a nice afternoon relaxing in the sun, drinking beers, watching the sun go down and we enjoyed a meal on the piazza. Check out some of the best photos from the day below. I just love the sunset ones!
|Sunset over Bergamo|
|The centre of Bergamo- Citta Alta|
|The restaurant where we had our meal|
|Roasted aubergines, tomatoes and mozzarella! = YUM|
|The goats cheese salad we shared|
|Our lovely chilled Italian beers!|
On Saturday evening I went for some cocktails with Malene on the piazza and we had a nice time catching up and chatting away! I took a few lovely pics- the one of the cocktails outside on the piazza is one of my favourite photos from all of my time in Pavia!
|Cocktails on the piazza at Rebound!|
|Cocktails inside Rebound!|
|Malene and Me!|
Sunday I had a really lovely time out of the flat with Elena my flatmate for the first time. We went to one of her friend’s houses to watch the final of the European Football Championship where Italy were playing against Spain. It was great to meet some of her friends and we all ate pizza and drank beers and coke whilst watching the match. Unfortunately Italy didn’t win, and this meant I was surrounded with a bunch of depressed Italians! Check out some of the photos below- including one of the fantastic view from her friend’s flat. I love how the Duomo of Pavia is standing tall above the rooftops. It really is a beautiful view which I am so glad I had the chance to see.
|A beautiful view over the rooftops of Pavia|
|Me with Elena and her friends|
|Elena and Me!|
Monday was quite a sad day for me as it was my last day in Pavia. I found myself thinking things like 'this is my last ever shower here' and 'I'll not see the piazza for a long time' and other sad things! Although it was my last day, I still had a number of things to accomplish! First of all do you remember from my last blog that I had a problem with my Spanish teacher when she went off to Barcelona on holiday and didn't turn up for my exam on the 26th of June? Well she finally replied to my email on Sunday 1st of July in the evening AFTER I had already changed my train ticket to go down to start au pairing a day later than agreed (Very convenient). Anyway she said that I could just pop over to her house to get the grades for my two essays on Sunday evening (as you do!) however I said that I would be around on Monday 2nd of July during the daytime, so I could just go over at 9.30am to have her sign my libretto. So anyway, I went over on Monday morning to the classroom and it was pretty much the same set up as the first exam I did for the film translation class. There were hundreds of students in a small room, and then just the teacher sweating buckets (as it was really humid in Pavia) at the front of the room. I entered and perched on a pew close to the front and was hoping that she would see me quickly and just call me over, however she started the exams for everyone which as mentioned before is done on the order you registered in, so you can be waiting as I did for the film translation exam for hours before it's your turn! Anyway she started the exam session with a girl at the front of the room, and I have to say that I am so surprised at how the exams here function! How on earth could she be conducting oral exams at the front of a room where 100 other people were talking loudly among themselves? I heard her say 'shhhhh' at least 5 times in just a few minutes as she was struggling to hear the poor girl who was doing her exam! Why on earth don't they just have everyone wait outside the room, and call in the students one by one? Or even better give each student a time for their individual exam like we do in England, and in Denmark too my friend Malene mentioned. I was becoming increasingly agitated sat there in this boiling hot room waiting, and then when that girl got up, I dashed over and apologised to her and said could she please sign my transcript and award me the grades for the two modules of which I had completed the essays for as I had a train to catch. I was expecting her to just say yes to hurry up and get rid of me, however she said 'hablamos un poco no?' (Let's chat for a bit okay?) and at that moment my heart fell as I wasn't expecting to do the exam part- I just wanted to get my grades written on the libretto and be done with the academic side of Erasmus! Anyway I couldn't exactly say no, so there I was sat in a room full of 100 people doing an oral exam in Spanish when I hadn't been to any of the lectures or done any of the reading list! (This is because I had previously agreed with her in February that I would write her two essays instead of reading the super long list of books for her modules). The exam was ridiculous as I pretty much steered the conversation to what I wanted (could) talk about. She started asking me about the civil war or something and I knew instantly that I wouldn't be able to answer the question and I would look bad, so I asked her if she liked my essays instead. I then started talking about the Colombian film 'Maria llena eres de Gracia' (Maria full of Grace) of which I did a film analysis for the 'Lingua Spagnola 3' module. She then started telling me how much she loved the film and asked me to describe the principal characters which was simple as I swear to God I know that film back to front now! And then she asked me what I most enjoyed learning about for her Spanish Civilisation module and seeing as I hadn't been to the classes or even glanced at the reading list, I had no idea what to say! So after enough silence which was acceptable had passed, I told her I loved researching about the torture instruments for my Spanish inquisition essay and then told her that last year I went to Toledo near Madrid in Spain and visited an instruments of torture Spanish inquisition exposition. She was impressed and then banged on for a while about when she was there! (I was thinking yes yes yes just keep talking haha- stupid woman was meant to be examining ME, not the other way around!) then she asked me if I've been to Barcelona (which is where she is from) and when I said yes, she asked me what things I saw and whether I liked the city! How this was part of a Spanish Civilisation or Spanish Language 3 module I don't know! Anyway it was enough to get me some phenomenal grades! She said that she couldn't really give me high marks seeing as I literally have done none of the correct work for her modules and then I was expecting her to give me 18/30 which is a pass and I would have been content with that, however she then wrote 26/30 and 25/30 on my libretto! I thought WHAT? Is she crazy? Anyway I knew better than to argue that my grade was undeserved so thanked her and got out of there as fast as I could before she could change her mind and realise she just gave me the equivalent of more than a UK first for doing practically nothing! I felt such relief though after as my Erasmus year abroad academically was over and I haven't just 'passed it' - I have actually done really well which was totally unexpected! In total for Italy I have passed 21 credits with 26/30 25/30 and 30/30 when we only need 15 credits at 18/30! To get a UK 1st, we need an average of 21/30 in 15 credits so I have passed that by far! Also in Spain! So wow, I have achieved my very first UK first for my 3rd year at Uni! Now I just need to continue for final year, however I have a feeling that a tad more work might be needed at Leicester to do well!
|The Piazza Vittoria at night|
After those final two exams with Garcia, I then went to the Centro Linguistico (Linguistic Center) to collect my certificate for the Italian language course followed by a visit to the Erasmus office to get an official transcript of my grades and sign a departure form! I can't describe the flood of happiness and relief which came when having everything official and ready to take back to Leicester! C'e l'ho fatta! (I did it!) one might say in Italian!
|My gigantic salad and Barbara's proscuitto and melone!|
The afternoon on Monday was then followed by a lovely last lunch in Pane e Salame with Barbara where she had a prosciutto and melon dish and I had a gigantic Greek salad! Luckily it won't be the last time I see Barbara as we're going to meet during the summer in Liguria for a weekend! I then went to meet Vicky down by the river for an 'ultimo gelato a Pavia' - last ice cream in Pavia followed by a whole load of packing and cleaning my room. I couldn't believe how much luggage I had managed to accumulate, and it wouldn't all fit into my 2 cases so I had to use a Carrefour bag too! I have no idea how I am going to manage to take everything home in August. I have a feeling that I'll be buying an extra case and putting 2 cases in the hold! After a goodbye with Elena, Malene then came over to help me take everything over to the train station and for a last goodbye! (although it wasn't really the last goodbye as I'm going to be seeing her over the summer, plus the other day I booked a set of easy jet flights and I'm going to visit her in Copenhagen in September!)
|All of my luggage! (too much for one person!)|
If you have been following my blog, you'll know that my summer didn't stop at the end of my Erasmus and that there are still 2 more months of my 'extra Erasmus period' or so I like to call it! I am still in Italy, and currently in Emilia Romagna on the coast living in a town called Milano Marittima with an Italian family. I am au pairing again this summer and I have the most gorgeous little 4yr old Italian girl called Rebecca to look after. I've been here one week now, and it’s going fantastically! My Italian is improving so much from being surrounded by the language and even little Rebecca teaches me new vocabulary! I couldn't have a better summer lined up- nor one which could benefit me more for final year. The family are so welcoming and I love that I’m treated like a big sister for Rebecca. Our days so far have been comprised of visits to the beach where we make sand castles, trips to the pool and a trip to a Nature Park! I have included here a few of my favourite photos from my first week.
|An Italian girl, a Spanish girl and an English girl!|
|Rebecca and Me!|
|The Holiday Village pool!|
|The beach! (Can you see my toes?) :)|
|Rebecca feeding a goat in the Natural Park|
|A real-life Bambi in the Natural Park of Cervia|
|Rebecca and a goat!|
|Playing with water-balloons in the garden!|
|The canal at Cervia|
|A beautiful sunset over Milano Marittima|
|Rebecca jumping in the pool!|
|Rebecca and Me feeding some donkeys|
Now it is time for the sad point where I am going to end this blog as it's the moment I left Pavia and my Erasmus period finished. From the 6th of September to the 2nd of July I had the best 10 months/42 weeks/294 days of my life. I don't know how to sum up this time apart from incredible, inspiring and unforgettable. I have had the opportunity to not just visit, but live and study in two incredible locations, visit a large number of beautiful European cities, meet some truly wonderful people and improve my language abilities. On a personal level I have grown up, become more responsible, open minded and challenged myself in a number of different occasions. I'm leaving this year with so many memories which will never be forgotten, nor will the people. I can now say I have made friends from all over Europe and have opportunities to visit these people who will be my life-long friends in Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, Denmark and Germany to name a few!
One last point before I finish as I need to say thank you to some people. I love that my blog is helping other people around the world who are preparing for a period of time in Salamanca or Pavia and a girl even got in contact with me from Turkey the other day! (Hiii to you especially as you'll probably be reading this last post!) and also 2nd year students from Leicester who are preparing for their Year Abroad in September as well as students from other Universities in England who have been in contact. Thank you to you all for reading, thank you to my friends and family, and lastly a big thank you to my Dad- Mike Clements, who is an avid follower (and also a wonderful proof-reader I might add!)
So that's it, now I know why they call the Erasmus year the best year of your life.