Since it is hard to make friends here, one way I have been doing it is by trying to talk to people on my course, and most of them are really nice. They are not used to having anyone foreign in the class as all of the students here are born and bred Neapolitans!
The group chat I have been added to was a welcoming gesture but my phone pings non-stop. I have learnt that they use the word “raga” here instead of ragazzi (the equivalent of “guys” in English).
= to be honest
I won’t lie to you, reader, I am aware that my posts about Naples have been pretty short and fairly boring. I could say that that is because this blog is supposed to represent the day-to-day life of a year abroad student which is not always as exciting as a tourist or holiday maker’s, but that isn’t really the whole story.
If I am painfully honest, I haven’t felt comfortable here in Naples at all, and I am trying my hardest to love it, but it is getting difficult. I don’t want to be moaning about this and make all my posts negative, because there is a bizarre rustic charm to the city. But for the good of future students at this city’s university, there should be a few negative points you are aware of…
– the university does not seem to have much in place for Erasmus students, especially language or politics ones. There is no kind of Erasmus support or network to meet students, I have never met my tutor, if he exists, and there are no relevant politics, history or language courses to speak of.
– the city is dangerous, yes, but the people are not as welcoming as I had hoped. I am only speaking in my personal experience, of course. A few people we have met have been absolutely lovely! But even my landlord, who I trusted, has tried to be inappropriate with me, as well as the men we get running after us in the street who refuse to leave us alone. I know many people who have visited the city and been mugged, and I am lucky it has not happened to me yet.
This has meant I cannot go out in the day without being hassled either by people wanting to steal from me, or men being aggressive. Going out at night is completely out of the question.
However, the sea is beautiful, the nearby places are gorgeous and as I said, it does have a strange charm in all its chaos. You have to realize though, that Naples is pretty much a different country from the rest of Italy, with different people, language, and culture. It is not for the faint hearted!
My friend Emilia came to visit me in Naples today which was so lovely as I haven’t seen her in ages (shout out to you Emilia )
I showed her round the town a bit, the nicest parts at least, and then we sat by the rocks on the beach in the evening.
We were then inexplicably approached by a group of boys aged around 12, who really seemed to think we would be keen to… get romantically involved with them. They even offered us a condom. We did wonder if they were talking about gum. To be honest I’m still not really sure. In any case, they kept on asking us if we would kiss them, even though we said no, we’re not interested, we have boyfriends, etc etc etc… This is a very, very strange place…
Waju means “ragazzo” or “boy” and wajona is the female equivalent. They are pronounced “wa-you” and “wa-yona”. This is one example I have learnt from chatting to people in my history class, that shows just how different Neapolitan is from Italian. But now we know these words, maybe we can fit in a bit more (?)
Today my boyfriend came to visit me for our anniversary which was lovely! I took him out for a light bite since we gorged ourselves on neopolitan pizza for lunch, and if you order an alcoholic (sometimes not) drink in Italy at the right time, you get a lot of free food with it. The south is famous for being generous with this and they top it up and add more snacks whenever you want. Here is a little of what we had:
I had to write about crocchè because they are so delcious. Imagine a Spanish or French croquette but as big as a baked potato, deep fried and stuffed with cheese. Moments like that make the problems we’ve had here melt away…
Today in History we learnt about pre-inquisition traditions and rituals in Italy. Some of them are remarkably similar to traditions I know from Greece. For example, the malocchio is the “mati” in Greek, or the “evil eye” where if you have an illness, it could mean someone has given it to you by looking at you, maybe with jealousy or bad intention.
We have however started to make friends in class and we met some guys on the beach who are genuinely not interested in anything more than friendship, happily! Today they taught us the numbers 1-10 in Neapolitan. I’ll write them next to the Italian numbers so you can read the difference.
This means hitting on someone, and it’s an occurrence that ruins our day pretty much every single day since we’ve arrived but I’ll just keep it to one post.
Here, you cannot step outside the door without unwanted advances in very pushy, rude ways. If you stop for two seconds on your way somewhere, a guy will come up to you and try his luck. I’ve had people twisting my face round to kiss my mouth, waiters in restaurants we’ve eaten at shouting things and just staring for minutes on end, boys as young as thirteen coming up to us and not leaving us alone, asking for kisses, and at first it was annoying but tolerable, and now it has just makes us really angry in a kind of English feminist way. We get whistled at like we’re dogs everywhere we go, and they don’t stop if you say no. It’s pretty scary sometimes depending on who you’re with and where you are, but we’re thinking of it as part as parcel of Naples life. I knew people are more direct here but I didn’t think they were as rude and aggressive about it as this.