I woke up at the crack of dawn today (aka 8am), excited to go to my first lecture of Filosofie dell’India, Asia, e l’Orientale. Late as usual, I rushed to class only to find myself sitting, sweat rolling off my forehead, waiting for the professor to arrive. Unlike in the US where classes start promptly on the hour, there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule in Italy that classes always start 15 minutes later than usual. So promptly 15 minutes later, the professor arrived, and I went into studious mode as many usually do on the first day of classes. As she started rambling on in Italian, I tried to retain any sort of information I could, but my notes turned into random unfinished sentences and words I didn’t know. ‘Illocativa,’ ‘convenzione,’ ‘intuzione,’—what did any of these words have to do with the book on Hinduism that I started reading from the syllabus? I looked around me to see if maybe we were supposed to start off reading a different book, but then the professor started whipping out words like ‘impersonale’ and ‘indicativo,’ I knew I was nowhere near Siva with his three-faced yoga stance. No, I was definitely in some sort of Computational Linguistics class, surrounded by italian linguistics majors that actually knew what was going on, as I sat clueless with my notes entitled ”Filosofia dell’India, Asia, e l’Orientale” in big bright colored letters. It wasn’t so much of a sad situation that I was in the wrong class–what was sad was that it took me 15 minutes into the professor’s lecture to realize I was in the wrong class–there goes any progress I thought I made in learning Italian out the window!
So now came the interesting part. In a 3 hour lecture there is only one break, and that comes an hour and a half into class. I had one of two options:
a.) Make an embarassing walk out of the classroom (mind you I’m towards the front row), in the middle of the professor speaking, and only hope to never see her again.
b.) Sit through 1 1/2 hours of Italian Computational Linguistics, staring blankly at the board, and make my rapid escape at the 15 minute break.
So here I sit, looking as if I’m writing notes like a madwoman, when in actuality I’m writing this blog in my notebook and laughing at myself internally. Lectures are difficult enough just being conducted in Italian, so adding the factor that this one is on a subject I don’t even understand in my native tongue leads me to grasp about 10% of what’s actually going on. What is ironic is that the book the class is reading is by an American author, Paul Arice, so randomly throughout the hour and a half my ears would perk up to some English words, like “securing the uptake.” Even though I have no idea what “securing the uptake” means I somehow feel for a split second that I have the upper hand on all of these pro linguistic majors. In actuality this is just my diluted mind trying to make myself feel better for having been sitting in this mistaken identity class for the last hour and a half.
After I made my break for the outside world, I was able to check the net only to find that my Philosophy of India, Asia, and the Orient class changed its schedule to start next week. Boh!*
*In Italy, ‘boh’ is pretty much equivalent to our ‘I don’t know,’ an absence of thought, or even an ‘oh well.’*