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I’m a grad student at the University for Foreigner of Perugia.
My field of specialization in promotion of Italian language and culture and teaching Italian.
So far, I have always complained about the approach with which the cultural aspects of the courses were tackled. Too much literature, too much of a humanistic concept of culture: in order for students to integrate their linguistic skills with cultural competence it was simply silly to teach to them about the Divine Comedy or Claudio Monteverdi.
Culture should have been intended and seen from its anthropological and sociological point of view, culture as the way a group of people sees and interprets the surrounding world.
But culture is forever changing and developing, so it cannot be studied as a set of rules, but it can only be observed in how it developed so far, and simply observed.
I have always perceived this lacking of ability in recognizing what point of view over the culture was more useful for a language learner as a huge limit to the course I am attending, but recently, I am finally developing a new point of view over it.
I can truly say I feel like I am looking at it with brand new eyes.
It is an indirect message, and one has to pay particular attention in order to see it. It’s a see-through message, and only readable from a particular point of view.
Their humanistic approach IS part of the culture.
How the courses are organized, how a student has to deal with the institution through interacting with offices or teachers, the role that students, on their side, take towards university. Simply the way things are done. It’s all there to be studied and learned.
I wonder if anyone inside the university is aware of this, realizes this, understands the cultural value of all this.
Even when we protest because we are sick and tired of they way things go, we are wearing a cultural mask and taking part in the show. It’s all part of the show, of the plot, of the culture. Cultural characters.
Today at around 1pm it started snowing a little. No big deal, if you have any experience with snow you do understand that since this is Italy and it’s march even the worst snowfall ever is not going to last long. It’s simply too warm.
From a few flakes, it quickly picked up and became a windy and flurry day. In a couple of hours everything was covered in a soft cover of snow.
It was just pretty and unusual.
Not for Perugia, and Italians here.
Being a hilly city, some roads tend to be a little steep. And it is exactly where every single Perugian who owned a car decided to drive by. Maybe one inch of snow caused total panic. My house mate himself, as he reported to me by calling me on the phone, managed to go UP the hill (usually the hardest part) in order to get out of the neighborhood, but then got stuck immediately as he got into via fonte coperte, the way DOWN the hill. He was going to work, and he had to put chains on in order to get down from the hill. Still don’t know how it ended.
I had class at 4, so by 3.15 I decided to start walking and head to university on foot.
On the way up, all the roads were filled with cars taking part in an endless line, some of them honking. Buses, of course, were stuck as well. Police cars were here and there organizing the traffic or dealing with the occasional accident, and I also happened to hear a siren from far away, I couldn’t tell if it was an ambulance or firefighters.
Anyhow, it was chaos. And trust me, if someone is even just a little bit used to Italian normal city traffic and talks about chaos, he knows what he’s talking about.
The walk allowed me to observe all this, and taking me just a little longer than usual also lead me to university on time for class. I was a little wet, but I had made it.
Once I got in front of it, though, I noticed the door closed.
I admit I naively thought they had simply closed it because they did not want the snow to blow inside (the whole whopping inch!); as and Italian, I should have known better how to read that sign.
I rang the bell, and the lady at the desk answered.
“Hello, could you open the door please? I got class.”
“There’s no class, they have been canceled.”
“…what you m…all of them?”
“They have been canceled.”
“…ok.thanks.”
Right behind me, a couple more guys arrived, and I told them. One had just come by 40 minutes of train to get there, and he wasn’t too happy about it.
A girl said the had just checked the website, nothing had been posted to say classes were canceled.
Hours later, as I am writing these lines, still nothing has been posted.
I took a screenshot of the home page of unistrapg.it , both for the english homepage and the italian one: nothing.
I even developed my own idea on how this all happened.
How come they decided to shut everything down for a little snow?
Here’s my shot: a teacher calls he won’t make it. Ok, no big deal. Maybe we’ll send someone to tell the students that will show up. Another teachers calls. Happens. Then another one, and another one. It’s just easier to call everything of for today. Call the different buildings and tell them to shut everything down.
I was told later that they didn’t even wait for the period to be over: they ran the announcement telling everyone simply that classes were called off, and the building was going to close.
For.
An.
Inch.
Of.
Snow.
Gotta love ’em.
I took a pic with my phone for you to see I’m not kidding. You can barely see cars because it’s the very city center and it’s mostly closed to traffic.

It is all part of the show, it is all part of the culture.

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