“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." Confucius

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


When travelling you need to accept the places you visit for what they are and enjoy the differences in culture  and since there are  Swiss, Canadian, American, Danish/Czech students in my class there have been many discussions on this topic.

Travelling broadens the mind and certainly some of the students here (most of whom seem to be still in nappies..ie late teens/early 20’s) are having their minds broadened….  The other day I was totally gobsmacked and delighted to discover that one student here REALLY DID think the bidet was for washing your feet in…. Yup! she really did…I had to explain it’s use to her.
I love this place and there's been very little I've had to  struggle to manage:
What I’ve found difficult but not intolerable:
  • 1.       At our place in sunny Croydon Vic,  we often leave all our doors wide open..that is all doors, between rooms and to the outside, so I’m still finding having to shut the door to my house  AND my one roomed flat  a bit claustrophobic…actually I wouldn’t bother if it weren’t for the mangy cats that are more than happy to come in if you give them half a chance. 
  • 2.       Getting used to having complete strangers looking into my window and talking to me remains a struggle.  I have to really stop and think to make sure that I’ve shut doors and windows before (un)dressing! 
There's only one I can't deal with and  is waaaaay above my tolerance threshold:
  • Spitting. To me, spitting is just plain disgusting and unhygienic and it seems to be a habit that many men (I think only men) feel obliged to do...the streets are actually very clean and clearly dog owners do "the right thing", but there are signs that someone or group of people have a spitting habit.  This was one of the topics my class discussed and we felt it unfair to lay the blame at any one group, since the town is full of locals, students, immigrants and tourists (although not many of the latter group).  Who's to blame?  not sure, but my initial comment remains the same....a disgusting habit and sadly perhaps more global than I realised.
What I really like:
  • I very much like the way you have to put on a disposable glove when choosing your fruit and veggies in the supermarket. 
  • The friendlieness of a relatively small community. I used to live in a village in England where everybody knew everybody and this place is the same….when I went out for the meal at the restaurant last week, the chef mentioned that he’d seen me riding my bike in town and today when visiting Urbino, 22km away one of the guides in the castle there said she knew me…or at least she’d seen me in Urbania!  Actually I’m not sure that women here of my advanced age behave in quite the same way as I do, so maybe I do stand out a bit!
  • The community spirit.   During July there are festivals every Thursday celebrating various ethnicities living in the area. Monday was a local saints day and so was a good reason to close all the shops and have a party. There was a special church service and a parade..at 9:30 in the evening. I was stunned how many people were at the evening service, the cathedral was packed.  The following procession around the old part of the town took 5 minutes to pass by with people walking 4 abreast.  Actually I thought the procession somewhat similar to the C of E one of (I think it's called) Beating the Bounds where one walks around the boundary of the parish.  I'd add pix of this but once again they want to be on their side ..anyone know how to get pix that are taken in portrait NOT to change to landscape when adding to my blog""
Misc points
  • Supermarkets…I love the way there is a whole aisle of pasta types and also that there might be 12 different tins of tuna but, and this cracks me up, they are ALL tuna in olive oil!
  • I love the way you can sit for hours on end in the cafe, having spent just .90c on a coffee and no-one makes you feel as though you've been there too long.
  • I've discovered that when describing myself as an old woman, I shouldn't use the word "vecchia" since that word  is used with things, not people...instead I should desribe myself as " anziana", although personally I'd prefer not to use a word closely resembling "ancient" as it makes me feel like a ancient monument, a ruin!!!
  • there are 2 language schools here, one in town one on the outskirts and it seems to me that we all live in the opposite part of town to our school.  So as I walk to my school, I'm forever passing students going to opposite way to their school.  For those of you fortunate enough to have read and enjoyed Ronald Searle's "Down with Skool" and "How to be Top", it reminds me of the  soldiers from Rome and Gaul passing each other, first going one way and then later on the other way.....
Guess that’s it.  There maybe more from here or the next post might not be til I get to the  UK.  Wish me luck…driving in the LH driver’s seat European car on LH drive UK roads will not be easy ..not only will I have to chant LH side of the road to myself, I’ll have to remember to be near the verge and hope I don’t have to overtake too many people. 

The only remaining problem I have with the car is that I still approach the passenger’s side of the car…I then have to pretend that actually I meant to do that and was just delivering my bag etc to the passenger seat!!!..oh and the other day i forgot the car was a manual and managed to stall it when in a slow moving queue...doh!


  1. "Actually I’m not sure that women here of my advanced age behave in quite the same way as I do, so maybe I do stand out a bit!" I suspect you are the only one in your age bracket that hops on a bike there, so no wonder they all 'know' you - sounds as though it has its advantages a bit !!!!!