01.30.06

Just when you think you know Italians

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:02 pm

I was walking the kids home from school today when we saw our neighbor’s son. His name is Alesandro and he’s always very nice and stops to say hello. As we were walking home, he said that it was too warm outside. I was very confused. The high today was supposed to 50°F, but I’m not sure it ever made it that high. So when I asked him how he could possibly think that it is too warm out today, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Meglio freddo di caldo.” Cold is better than hot. I was literally stunned. I have never heard any Italian complain about heat – more often it seems that they’re cold. I usually walk the kids to school with no hat, scarf, gloves, and with my coat unzipped and you wouldn’t believe the stares I get.

It just proves to me that most of the things that I “know” about Italians are probably in some way or another stereotypes.

01.26.06

So long Perugia bus pass

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:57 pm

Heidi and I said “Goodbye” to a dear friend today. Our Perugia bus passes have expired. We did some calculating and it’s cheaper to buy the normal tickets than to renew our passes for the time we have left here in Perugia.

Our passes were a new thing for our team – no one else ever bought one while they lived in Perugia. But our passes gave us a great deal of freedom to explore the city without being afraid of getting stuck somewhere without a ticket. We could ride a bus just to see where it goes for free. They saved us a ton of walking in this city that is built on the side of a hill. It sounds strange, but in a way I’m sad to see our “bus pass” days are over here in Perugia. We no longer need to explore just for cultural-learning’s sake. Perugia has become familiar.

Which I think means it’s time to move to Ancona – a whole new city to explore! And who knows, maybe my new bus pass will have my last name spelled right!

01.25.06

Gas shortage

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:57 am

I’m not sure if this has hit the news in America or not, but Italy is currently facing a major natural gas shortage. Italy imports around 80% of all its natural gas from Russia, who is also facing record cold temperatures and is decreasing its exports of natural gas to ensure that they have enough gas for themselves. Italy will soon have to tap into its own gas reserve, and hopes that the gas will last until mid-February, if temperatures stay the same.

So the government has asked everyone to turn down their thermostats 1 degree Celsius and to turn it off for one more hour each day. Most thermostats in Italy are programmable. Ours is only on from 6-8 AM and 5-11 PM every day. When it’s on, it only gets up to 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit).

It’s going to be a cold winter…

01.24.06

Mohawk Update

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:55 am

So I discovered something about my new European haircut. Apparently the lady that cut my hair used some sort of industrial strength hair gel. Whenever I try and make my hair stick up like that, it just falls down and looks like I forgot to comb my hair. The gel she used was so strong, that it was still sticking up in back after I work up the next morning.

Don’t we talk about important things on this blog? :) I suppose even getting a haircut in a foreign country can be a cultural learning experience.

01.22.06

I think I have a mohawk

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:05 pm

Our team has this hair place that we all use. Her name is Patrizia and her shop is next door to the Crosser’s apartment. She’s very nice and has attended some of our church’s special events.

Well my hair was getting long, so I headed over to her shop yesterday. I told her I was kind of tired of my hair cut. She asked me what I want and I said I really didn’t care, but thought it would be cool to kind of have it come to a point on top. You’ve probably seen that kind of haircut before.

So I wasn’t really paying much attention. She finshed up, added gel and went to get a mirror so I could see the back. And that’s when I noticed that my hair was also sticking out straight in the back. Like a mini-mohawk. I’ve seen this hairstyle many times here before, but honestly never thought I would have one. European hairstyles can be a little weird. If I get brave, I’ll post a photo.

01.19.06

How to create jobs in Italy

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:55 am

Today in class Heidi asked a question that we’ve yet to really get an answer to. There’s all kinds of police here in Italy. There’s the Caribineri, who wear outfits designed by Armani. Then there’s the Polizia, who wear outfits designed by some other famous designer. Then we have the Guardia di Finanzia, who don’t appear to have much to do but drive around. Then there are the local police, the traffic police, and the parking lot police.

So Heidi asks, “If someone is breaking into my house, who do I call? What is the difference between all of these officials.” But get this … our teacher, a native Italian, had no idea. So she brings in two of the other teachers. They tell us that the Caribineri is a military organization, and the Polizia is a federal organization. OK, makes sense, but how do their jobs differ? Who does what? “They have the same job. I have no idea why they are different”

Heidi was clearly not satisfied with the answer. How can two organizations have the same job, the same jurisdiction? His answer, “Maybe to create new jobs?”

01.18.06

What did she just say?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:47 am

Heidi and I have a morning ritual of going to our favorite coffee bar every morning after we drop the kids off at school. It’s just down the street from our language school, and occasionally our teachers will stop in on their way to school. This morning Barbara came in. The bar was full, and she asked if she could share our table. We made small talk for a while. Then I asked her if she is teaching at the university in the afternoons after she’s done with our classes. She sort of rolled her eyes and said she was student teaching at a high school.

And then she unloaded on us. She told us how mean the kids were. She’s teaching English and she lamented their terrible accents. She couldn’t believe how poorly the students spoke after five years of classes. She told us about a girl who was supposed to bring some photocopied handouts every day to class, but for some reason never brought them. She asked her why and the student said something along the lines of “because I don’t give a *$%@”

The story continued … one day she walked in the room to find the classroom’s crucifix turned upside down with a pornographic picture taped on the wall above it. Apparently that warranted a visit from the school’s director, who scolded them all but in the end didn’t do anything to punish the students.

The language got even more colorful when she described the girl who came to class with a belt that had the F-word written all around it. I cringed a little as she quoted the bad language that the students use. But, at least in this classroom, the teacher just shrugs her shoulders and wonders aloud what they can do.

And therein lies the rub. Apparently if the schools punish the students, the parents will pull them out of that school and take them to another one. Which means the school loses money. Which means that no one ever bothers to discipline.

It was certainly an interesting conversation. And it kind of makes me wonder what happens when I drop my kids off at school every morning.

01.16.06

Carcassonne

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:31 am

The Rotert family has been bitten by a bug. Ever since we went to the Mid-Winter Rally in Germany after Christmas, we have all been adicted to this german board game called Carcassonne. It’s a pretty simple game: you draw tiles (like the ones shown here) and make cities and roads. Apparently it has won all kinds of awards in Germany, and there are a ton of expansion packs to make the game more interesting. But one of my favorite parts about it is how much the kids enjoy it. Hardly an afternoon goes by when Lance doesn’t ask me, “Hey, you want to play a little Carcassonne?”

Today we got a package in the mail from Amazon.de. I used some Christmas money (thanks, Dad!) to buy the games and have them shipped to Italy. We tried to find them while we were there, but we only found one.

So far, the number of wins from the Rotert Family Tournament are: Chloe, 3; Brian, 2; Lance, 1; Heidi, 1. Isn’t it great to find a game like this that everyone likes to play?

01.15.06

He’s quite the talker

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:52 am

Last week we went and visited a Bretheren church here in Perugia. An older woman came up to us after church and invited us to lunch at her house this week. We happily accepted (and what a lesson – how often do we invite total stangers who show up at our churches to lunch in our homes?).

After church today we made it to her house. Her husband, son, daughter, and sister were also there. During the meal (5 courses – appetizer, pasta, meat, salad, dessert & coffee) her sister noted that Trey talks a lot. She called him a chiacchieratino – a little chatter. Those of you who have met Trey know that he is never lacking for words! After the meal when we were leaving she called him a chiacchierone – a chatterbox. In Italian the ending –ino means cute or little. The ending -one means big. In the just-over-three-hour meal, her opinion of him changed quite a bit! I think she’s probably right!

01.14.06

Pretty soon, we’re all going to be speaking English

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:37 am

There are around twelve dialects of Italian, each different enough from the others that people who only speak dialect will have trouble understanding someone with another dialect. But one weird language quirk that I have noticed is how many English words are creeping in to everyday use.

One of the strangest English words in use is the word “over.” For example, a ticket for senior citizens is available to the “over 65.” It’s strange to me because there is an Italian word for “over.” But for some reason the English word is being used.

I glanced through the paper today and made a list of all the English words I found in the headlines. Here’s the list:

  • Best Movie (A magazine)
  • leader
  • bank
  • stop
  • star
  • killer virus (referring to Asian bird flu)
  • raid
  • management
  • look
  • deficit
  • master
  • task force
  • gay
  • big
  • indoor
  • weekend

And I skipped all the “tech” words like internet, blog, website, etc. All of these words above have an Italian equivalent. But for some reason those words have been replaced by an English word. Weird, huh?