This means sunburn! I somehow managed to sunburn my eyelids today, which is a really bizarre feeling and I’m not quite sure how that happened but the rest of my face is okay. Naples is certainly hot; it has rained more than we thought it would but the pollution, dense population, crazy traffic and southern sunny location makes it a very warm place to be indeed! Somehow everyone except me is still wearing a coat…
Learning a course in another language will always be interesting, but I questioned I was even in the right class when my Modern History teacher was referring to Cinquecento, which means 500. Naturally, I thought he meant the year 500AD, but, of course, he meant the year 1500 instead.
Fra is Neapolitan for Fratello, or brother; kind of like we would say “bro” or something in English.
I learnt this from our two friends we met on the beach, and they are genuinely nice people who don’t have an ulterior motive when they talk to us. They told us we had been lucky to find two “angeli” like them!
Before another post updating about life at NBCU, I thought I’d write a piece on what it’s like to be a POLIS placement student in London. I had always figured that I would live in London at some point in my life; I grew up in Reading (30 mins away from Paddington by train) and my sister has lived in the city for a number of years. All of my media work experience has also been in the city, albeit only for sporadic weeks at a time.
For me, a huge pro of London life came before I had even moved. I found searching for a flat incredibly easy in comparison to Bath, setting aside a day to look at suitable apartments and finding our perfect place by lunchtime. Now, I have to caveat this by saying that my flatmate (a friend from school, who I’d already agreed to live with a year before even getting my placement) was quite keen on living in Clapham; the issue of where to live in such a huge city was fairly immediately resolved. However, I definitely recommend looking in the Clapham area to any prospective Londoners as there’s a thriving young-professional community and it’s relatively affordable. I live literally opposite the Clapham North tube station, which definitely helps with any morning laziness. There was hardly a shortage of two-bedroom houses and flats in the area, which is immensely useful for anyone to find a place at short notice.
On the subject of the tube, there’s a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to transport in London. On the one hand, it’s (usually) quick and frequent, meaning that darting from one end of London to the other isn’t too much hassle. However, it can be unbelievably unpleasant. I take the Northern line every single day (fun fact – the Northern line goes to the most Southern tube station in London) and, subsequently, I spend far too much of my time pressed up against a stranger in the tube equivalent of sardines. There’s also the case of heat; on the two or so days of summer that London actually has, I’ve been so hot on the tube that my makeup has melted by the time I’ve gotten to work. This is an aspect of London life that I’ve simply had to put up with, but I know it isn’t for everyone.
Of course, it’s also expensive. Everything is eye-wateringly expensive. Coming back to Bath makes everything feel cheap – the complete opposite of when I first moved to University.The extent of which this hits you will ultimately depend on how much you are paid. Without going into details, I have friends who are in other ends of the country who are paid less but are still able to save money overall. Admittedly, I have made a decision to enjoy London life as much as possible which, unfortunately for me, does come at a cost. Still, generally speaking, unless you’re on a banking placement, it’s a lot harder to save money if you’re living here.
However, there’s so much going on in the city that it makes shelling out money on events easy but worth it. Some personal highlights of the year have included attending an interactive Great Gatsby performance, going to a Secret Cinema event in black tie, playing ping pong in a UV bar and much, much more. Furthermore, as there are so many other POLIS students on placement in London, I am able to attend these events with a similar friendship group to what I had at university. Whilst this isn’t to say that I haven’t met people here, it certainly makes moving to a new city easier when you’ve got a lot of familiar faces on call. If you’re even slightly interested in the arts, London will always have something new and quirky to offer you.
Whilst this is just a small overview on a big city, I hope it’s been informative!
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…
Earlier on in the academic year, the Lifetime Service went through a tendering process - where the companies managing the service change hands. This was quite disruptive and ended up in two members of the team remaining with the original company (Sirona) and the rest of the team changing to Virgin Care. Splitting the team in two along the lines of where their caseloads were based. On top of this, the change of hands meant that the Lifetime Service had to move out to a new location.
But, no one knew what was happening. Not even those higher up in the service and Sirona knew where we would be moving to or what this meant for the staff and their jobs. So as you can imagine, everyone was really stressed and confused. We only found out a month before the move where we were moving to, and the moving date was only announced two weeks before we were due to have everything packed up in boxes and shipped off to the new location. No easy task as the Lifetime Service has a lot of stores and medical supplies for the various young people they care for and activity groups they run - so much that they take up three storage rooms!
So, after many months of enjoying the commute to the Royal United Hospital and my placement, the Lifetime Service found out they had to move to St Martins Hospital in Odd Down. With only two weeks to make sure everything was labelled and ready to go, whilst also continuing to provide a safe and effective service.
With all these changes going on, it gave me a chance to experience a very different work situation that most people would never have expected to happen whilst on their placement. The service was quite disrupted and overwhelmed with the move, so my role changed quite a lot from assisting the Psychology Team to also helping the Nurses with their work. I was also involved a lot in the moving process of packing up boxes and labelling them for the new office.
In the two weeks before the move, I spent my time going through old files and uploading useful information to our shared computer files that would be coming with us when we moved. - Most things had not been looked at since 2004 so there was a LOT of weird and random stuff buried in folders and boxes across Lifetime that people had forgotten existed. A lot of things were thrown out just to save on space, what wasn't thrown was squished into boxes and sent to the new offices or to an old abandoned church for storage.
With all of this going on, my role as an Assistant Psychologist took a back seat and I was not able to have as much contact with my supervisor. This was OK as it was only short term, but I had to be more aware of thinking of jobs to do and not asking to be given work. This was a little difficult at times but there was so much to go through and sort out to help with the move that coming up with tasks to do was easy.
What you are probably thinking is 'How on earth do you cope with moving during placement?'
I've come up with some top tips to help with moving placement locations:
- Check out Transport - As soon as you know where you are moving to look into how you will get to your new location (can you get there with your current bus pass or do you need another one? Can I cycle there 0r walk? Could someone give me a lift? Do I need to move? -hopefully not for the last one). Having a few options to get to your new location can really help take away some of the stress of the move.
- Supervision - Meet with your supervisor before the move and ask for a list of what they would like you to do to help the move. Your supervisor may want your help packing up different stores and offices or they might prefer you to work from home for a few days whilst things are most chaotic.
- Get all the Knowledge - Try to find out as much about the move as early on as you can, knowing what is going on is a huge relief for you and those around you (When is the move happening? Where can you find boxes to pack up your things? How should you label up the boxes?).
- Finance - If you know the move is changing your commute time or route it might be useful to have a look at whether the move will make things more expensive for you. Knowing whether you have to spend more money or not will help you to plan a new budget or organise some extra hours for a job to help fund the change. Some companies may even reimburse you for travel if it is more expensive than before, so have a look to see if this is possible for you!
- Be Aware - my last tip is to try and be aware that staff members are likely to be stressed with the move and tensions may be running high. With everyone preparing for the move your role may be side-lined a little, so make sure you ask around for some jobs and expect to do things that you would never normally do as part of your role. If there are not many tasks going, try having a think about other things you could be doing, like your dissertation or coursework - I spent a lot of time calling up different hospices and services to see if their staff could take part in my dissertation research.
It can't have all been difficult. What was the best part of the move?
Definitely having Thai Food delivered to work for a last lunch as a service, with lots of free cakes and chocolates being brought in by different teams to wave goodbye to the different teams in Bath NHS House.
Finally, congratulations to the Lifetime Service. We made it!
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 (?)
This isn’t exactly a new word, but it’s a must-visit for anyone thinking of going to Naples. Caffè Gambrinus is a famous coffee shop near Piazza Plebiscito, where my boyfriend tried his first cannoli. He hasn’t been overly impressed with Naples to be honest, the traffic is terrifying for a newcomer and he does get the same uncomfortable vibe around the city as I do. He says he prefers Domino’s Pizza to Neapolitan pizza, which is something you should whisper as quietly as you can here…. anyway, here are some photos of Gambrinus and Piazza Plebiscito