I have arrivedin Pavia. blegh.
9 hours on a bowl of frosted flakes, a sandwich and a bottle of chocolate milk.
I left Kristian's box at around 7:35 this morning and we walked down to the train station. Well, I walked and he rode his bike with my 20 kg bag hanging off the back. So I didn't have to carry it, which was nice. The train pulled in just as we walked up and so I jumped on and off I went. An eventless ride left me at Eindhoven Centraal.
I went to the bus ticket desk and asked to buy a ticket. After informing me that I could buy a single ticket on the bus, he placed a little box the desk and said "austublieft" (how do you spell that?). I asked what it was and he said "Little present". Meuh? Apparently in Holland if you asked to buy a bus ticket, they give you a little portable fan--with batteries included! Rather wonky.
So I bought a ticket from the ticket-vending machine on the bus. It was quite the bus: articulated and electric (it sounded electric, anyways) and it was zippy. I don't think I've ever been on a bus that felt so fast.
I was the second person to check in at the airport. I thought I would have to pay overweight charges, but it turned out that I didn't, even though my bag weighted 20 kg. The couple in front of me had no baggage to go in the hold, so maybe the lady just gave me some of their weight allowance.
I took a window seat (the plane had free seating) and snapped a few pictures through the window. I was surprised at how short the flight was. I was looking at the ground and figured we couldn't have covered _that_ much ground when all of a sudden I look down and see Alps and 10 minutes later, we're descending into the airport.
Which brings me to Italy. My first impressions may have been coloured by the fact that I was really hungry and tired from traveling on my one, but I didn't find it that beautiful. The fields were pretty flat, like Holland, but less cultivated. More random shrubbery and so on. I know that floats some people's boat, but when I go for random vegetation, I prefer it to be wild, Ontarian craziness.
I figured out the Italian train system, I think. I bought a ticket that said something about being valid through sometime in October but also about being valid up to 6 hours after being validated. Very confusing stuff. Then I saw these little yellow boxes by the platforms and got the gist of it by watching other people. Your ticket can be used in some large period of time, but before you get on the train you have to get it stamped by these little yellow boxes. Ah ha! Then your ticket's only valid for six hours after it's been stamped. So if the conductor comes by and you've got a ticket, but it's not stamped, it's as if you don't have a ticket.
One other quirk gave me a bit of uneasiness: reserved seats. Some people got on the train and looked for empty seats. You could see them looking down as they scanned the seats. Others were looking for a particular seat number. They looked up, where the numbers were posted. So poor little old me is sitting there going "I hope I'm not in a reserved seat" I finally noticed that there was a little plastic sleeve next to each seat number. Some of these sleeves were empty, and some had a little piece of paper. Ta-da!! The seats w/ a little piece of paper are reserved, the others aren't. A quick look above my seat revealed that it was unreserved. Relief.
Apparently, I look Italian because some little old lady at the train station asked me for directions. ha ha ha. "Non parlo italiano". A little later, on the train, the lady sitting next to me asked me to look after her bags while she went to the restaurant. (I think that's what she asked. She asked in Italian, so who knows?) I just sat there hoping and praying that she would be back before the train came to Pavia. She did, so I didn't have to worry about asking someone else to look after them, which would have been awkward enough if I could have done it in English...
In Pavia, the dearth of taxis prompted me to walk to the school. With my 30 kilos of gear. Silly, silly Dave. Turns out the number 3 bus would have worked, but the guy I asked directions from didn't know this part of town, so oh well. I asked a few people directions (woohoo italian lessons!) and finally made my way to the residence. (Some kids had told me that the ROSE Secretariat was closed, so I didn't bother stopping there. I guess I'll show up there tomorrow.) The Isola Verde, where I'm staying, looks a lot nicer than the official residence, the Collegio A. Volta, at least from the outside :) I think it may be some sort of old-age home, because the shower has a pull string that you can use to call for help.
I managed to speak to one of the reception staff in French. he he. Once I showed them the contract I had signed, they found me a room. I'm not sure when I'm staying tomorrow, but today I'm staying with a guy named Michael, from Shanghai.
At first they got the apartments mixed up, so they took me to an apartment with two girls living in it. Oops. I got to meet another classmate, anyways :) When we got the right place, Michael immediately gave me a hand dragging my bag in and was very welcoming, which is always nice an refreshing after a long day of traveling alone...
So tomorrow I meet the secretariat and class starts on Tuesday. I think there was supposed to be class on Monday, but they're inaugurating the new shake table instead. fun, fun, fun...