My Italian Life?

Why the name change? I realised something. The whole intention behind starting this blog was purely to document my life in Italy. It was for my friends and family back home. It was so that they could keep track of what I am doing.

My idea for the blog was to document the places I see, the things I am doing, perhaps even some Italian cooking for you. I realise now, I started this blog too soon. What is there to write about when I am not even in Italy? I never wanted this blog to become a ‘how to move to Italy’ feature.
The days are going so quick, however. Looking at my countdown, I have just over two months before I will be living in an entirely new country. Two months before I will have to struggle to get by with a less than desirable level of language. Luckily, I will not be alone making this journey. As we have delayed my move, it now corresponds with the time my parents will be travelling to Italy. I am even on the same flight as them. The week I am moving to Italy is also important for another reason. It is my mothers birthday. I won’t tell you how old she will be, especially as she is likely to be reading this right now! (Pssst. She’s 21 of course).

That week will be extremely busy of course. Moving in (too our apartment I hope), as well as organising residency, Codice Fiscale’s, bank accounts etc. However, we are planning on doing some site-seeing, and getting to experience Puglia. I am envisioning day trips to Monopoli, getting lost in the little narrow streets, having a coffee at a bar, strolling down to the marina, and of course, having a gelato (it is Summer after all). Taking a trip to Alberobello, to see all of the Trulli’s and having a nice thick hot chocolate in the evening. Maybe a day trip to Lecce to gaze upon the magnificent baroque architecture. These are the kind of things I wanted to post about, pictures and memories of my time in Italy. To record all of the beautiful sights, and wonderful times I have there. And there is never a better time than to do this than when I am surrounded by all of my favourite people.
So here we are. This is my Italian life. Or it will be in two months and eight days.

82 days to go! 82!!

82 days, 11 weeks or just under 3 months left before move date. So far I have organised.. well absolutely zero. I have applied for two jobs in total. I have started to organise my clothes, I have some boxes ready to pack. I actually did pack my large suitcase (full of my winter clothes) which is probably going to need to be condensed even further. I honestly thought I’d be a lot more prepared than this. My Italian is still around that A2/B1 level and doesn’t seem to be improving so much lately.

Now I am a person that likes to be well organised, months in advance, so you can imagine the level of stress this is having on me. When I think of how unprepared I actually am, I start to hyperventilate. But really, there is not a lot I can do.

The one thing I have managed to achieve is to research fully the process of actually moving there. But now that is done and my Italian seems to not be progressing, I have zero motivation anymore. So my days are filled with mindless scrolling through social media and watching youtube videos and Netflix. ARGH! HELP!

It’s time to hit reset. So here goes. Time to make a list of all the things I need to do. And then get it done!

The secret of getting things done is to act!

Dante Alighieri

TO DO LIST.

  • Sort out my wardrobe (box things to donate/sell). Set aside stuff to take. THIS NEEDS TO ALL FIT INTO TWO SUITCASES!
  • Sort out my books! Why do I have so many books? Why? I don’t even read half of them. I will donate most of these to charity shops, and maybe try to sell some of my old nursing textbooks. I will be keeping all of my Italian books, and probably a selection of my recipe books.
  • Sort out and box my kitchen stuff – this is all in storage in my brother’s attic, and at the moment I am not allowed to go there due to our lock-down restrictions. Hmm.. dilemma.
  • Sort out my make-up and toiletries. This I actually did manage to achieve! YAY, GO ME! YOU ARE A STRONG, CAPABLE WOMAN AND CAN ACHIEVE THINGS! Ok ok… next…
  • Sort out all of my papers and notebooks (I have so much stuff leftover from uni. Why do I even need this?) A lot of this will be shredded and recycled. Some of then notebooks I may be able to salvage, even though I only really use my iPad to take notes now.
  • Miscellaneous items: Electronics, decorative items, and all the other stuff. This is probably the hardest section to tackle.
  • Research the best way to box up my PC. I have done a bit of this already, but I need to find the best method and to purchase any packaging material I may need. My PC will probably be one of the last things I pack, to be honest.
  • I need to do a dummy round of packing my stuff and weighing it, to get accurate quotes from the shipping company I will be using which is Pack link. I already got estimated quotes and I was pleasantly surprised with how cheap they were. My partner used this company when he moved to Spain and he recommended them.
  • SELL/DONATE all unwanted items. If I have items to sell, I need to do this fairly quickly, as they may take some time to sell.
  • I would like to get my boxes (to ship over) sorted by at least the 17th of August (apart from my PC). So this gives me… 10 weeks exactly from today.
  • Keep improving my Italian! I would love to get to a confident B1 level before moving, but I’m not sure this is attainable within the next 11 weeks. But I will try my darn hardest!
  • Exchange my money! I have no idea how I am going to do this! Really. I know there are some things you can use like transfer wise but I might just transfer it all to cash as I do not have a bank account in Italy yet. If I am transferring it to cash, I may need to do this in several transactions as I am not currently sure on the limit – CHECK THIS OUT ASAP!
  • Speaking of bank accounts.. which one do I want to use? I was torn between two choices. So I will try to decide between them. This doesn’t need to be done right away though.
  • Apply for more jobs (there are another 3 language schools I wanted to apply for) and finish the application for one of the schools which I have started (need to rewrite my CV for this). This needs to be done ASAP.
  • TODAY I am going to go through this list and try to organise it into relevant time frames, prioritising important tasks such as applying for jobs, more research etc. I may edit this post when it is done!

BTW, if anyone knows any decent resources for selling stuff (in the UK) like clothing, please leave a comment. I would be super-duper grateful. Otherwise, this will be me going to the airport in August!

Studying online and taking digital notes.

I haven’t been posting for a while because there hasn’t been much to write about. This week I have mostly been just reviewing all of my old notes on grammar and vocabulary. I have also sat a 3 day boot camp on how to move to Italy, which was great, I found out a lot about some stuff that I probably don’t have need for – visa’s, buying property etc. But the majority of the information was pretty helpful.

I have been using my iPad recently for my note taking process. And so this week i’ve been transferring all of my notes from my notebook to my iPad. For this I have been using the goodnotes 5 app. I love this app for many reasons. I can hand write all of my notes on it. Writing things by hand rather than by typing helps me remember them more. When I type, I usually tend to not pay attention to what I am writing, and it quickly leaves my memory. This is why I have always preferred to hand write my notes in a notebook.


However, after studying an MSc in Conservation, I have been becoming increasingly aware of the footprint we are having on the planet, and have been trying to shift towards a more ‘zero waste’ lifestyle. Using the iPad helps me with this step. All my notes are stored digitally, on the cloud. I no longer need to use a load of paper. And as I am planning on using this iPad for a very long time, I feel a bit more comfortable with the unfortunate plastic waste I do create with this. A small amount of plastic waste over years compared to a huge amount of daily paper waste is.. well.. a bit better I guess.

The kit




I have been using my iPad which is a standard iPad (2019 model) 10.2 inch screen as pictured and linked to the left. Mine is only a 32gb, and is in rose gold.


I also have the 1st generation apple pencil which is absolutely essential for me to hand write my notes on the iPad. The 1st generation pencil can be used on the majority of iPads, however, the 2nd generation can only be used on two of the iPad pro’s so if you want to purchase one yourself, make sure you are buying the compatible pencil.



I also bought a case similar to this, just so that I can use my iPad like an actual laptop, and I can type up my notes with a full keyboard. I find this more comfortable than using the touch screen keyboard that is on the iPad.

As well as these on my iPad, I still use my desktop for the majority of my studying. I have managed to utilise several different programs and apps to help me with this process of learning a language by myself and from home.

The software I use?

First of all, as I have said previously, I have been a frequent user of AnkiApp. I have been using this for a bit of time now, and am very fond of it. I use this as a flashcard deck to study vocabulary mostly. You can add text, images and even audio files to it, which is great if you want to record yourself saying a word or phrase, and practise with your pronunciation. I also utilise the tags in AnkiApp, and tag different categories. Verbs, Nouns, Adjectives etc. But also can tag groups as a seperate tag such as ‘animals, family, in the city’. This way I can study cards with a certain tag, like if one day I wanted to study verbs only, then I would select the verb tag.

I also have been using the Online Italian Club extensively, and really taking advantage of their fantastic free resources. You can search for resources for your specific level and you can even download a free study planner for that level. Recently I have been going back over the A2 study materials and the planner gives you the link to the material. Below is a screenshot from one of the pages from my own A2 study planner. I managed to do quite a few lessons in a day because I am already studying at a B1 level, and was just going over these again to refresh my memory.

I have also recently started using duolingo again. This is again to refresh my memory, and my father has recently taken up learning Italian and is using duolingo himself to do this, and helping him with this has renewed my interest in duolingo.

I am still using babbel and am quite fond of this app. I have been mostly doing the reviews every day and then doing a lesson now and again. However, babbel and duolingo I use only to supplement my learning.

On my iPad, for note taking I am using goodnotes 5 as I have already stated. As well as this I am using some other apps to help schedule my time. I am using the app Timepage which is created by moleskin. This is a calendar app, and I schedule all of my learning in this app, with time slots. When I schedule in learning like this, it helps me stay committed to actually doing it. I usually schedule in general blocks like ‘Review Vocabulary’ between 9:00 and 12:00 as an example.

I also create a to-do list, which I am currently using MinimalList for. This app has a really simple and sleek design. I use it in monochrome however, you can adjust the colour. It is simple to use, you drag down to add an item, drag to the right to check it off, drag to the left to delete it. I have started writing my to-do list in Italian, just because

Another app I am currently using is Focus Keeper. This app uses the pomodoro method to keep focus. It sets timed blocks of study and rest time. I have it set for 25 mins study, 5 mins short break and 30 mins long break. Every 25 mins you get a short break, but after 4 rounds of 25 mins you get one long break. You can fully customize this to suit your own schedule, and you can change the focus time, break times and the total amount of time you want to study for.

Other apps I have are of course Books on the iPad. I only have one book on here at the moment which is a grammar book. I can highlight sections and add notes on this app. I do not really use this so much at the moment. Sometimes I will read over it and highlight important sections.

An app recommended to me by my partner is PDF Expert. He uses this a lot more than me. He has a lot of medical textbooks as PDF’s and with this app he can make notes, highlight etc. I haven’t had a chance to really use this app yet, purely because I do not have any PDF’s at the moment that I am studying from but check it out if you do study from PDF’s a lot.

Books – paperback and hard back.

I have several physical books that I use to study from. The one that I use the most frequently is probably the ASSIMIL with ease (Italian). I also refer to grammar books on occasion, and I have several workbook style books to work through for a variety of different levels.

These are the books I do have:

ASSIMIL with ease series (Italian)

Collins Complete Italian

Teach Yourself Complete Italian

SOS Italian Grammar A1-A2

Streetwise Italian Dictionary/Thesaurus

Italiano plus A1-A2

Attiva il lessico A2/B1

Teach Yourself Enjoy Italian intermediate to advanced.

Preparazione al CELI 3

And I also have a few story books:

Pasta per due

Amore in Paradiso

Italian short stories

Italian bank accounts

Unicredit is a very popular choice amongst Italians. They have over 8,500 branches in most cities and towns in Italy, so you will be able to find a branch, or an ATM almost everywhere. Unicredit offer several different accounts with varying benefits and fees. For traditional bank accounts there are three levels – silver, gold and platinum. The silver account offers a prepaid card, release of check forms and SEPA transfers online, this account costs 9€ a month. The gold offers also the Flexia credit card with an annual fee and costs 12€ a month. Finally the platinum offers 2 debit cards, an additional credit card as well as the ability to transfer money from ATMS in Italy and abroad. This costs 22€ a month. They also have 2 types of investment accounts – gold and platinum, costing 5€ and 7€.

ING are a good international bank but not found in as many locations around Italy so you may not have a branch in your area. ING have the conto corrente Arancio which you can manage from an app as well. You can pay the 2€ fee for the Zero Vincoli which offers free cash withdrawals from anywhere in the EU, as well as up to 50,000€ free SEPA transfers.

HYPE is part of the Banca Sella group and is a mobile banking platform. They offer a free bank account, as well as the piano plus and the piano premium. The free bank account and the piano plus only give you a prepaid card where as the premium one gives you a debit cards. The premium account gives you other services including access to airport lounges, travel insurance, ATM theft policy purchase protection policy and even support over whatsapp. The cost for the piano plus is 1€ a month and for the piano premium it is 9.90€ a month.

Intesa Sanpaolo is a result of a merger from Banca Intesa and Sanpaolo IMI, and they have 4,825 branches across Italy so likely have one in your locality. At the moment they are offering the XME conto free for people under the age of 35 if you open by 30th of June 2020. This allows you to withdraw cash from any ATM in Italy and SEPA transfers abroad. The normal cost of this account I believe is 7.50€ a month.

Banco nazionale del lavoro is another popular choice, and is the 6th largest bank in Italy. It offers a lot of different types of bank accounts – BNLX semplifica ogni giorno (smart, powered or full) as well as i conti di base BNL, one for kids and a tennis one. The BNLX semplifica ogni giorno smart offers a debit card, as well as in branch, telephone and online banking. It is around 6€ a month but you can get a discount on this (if your under 30 it is free). However, you have to pay for ATM withdrawals. You can purchase an extra package that allows you to withdraw from ATMS twice a month and this costs 2€ a month. The powered bank account includes these 2 withdrawals a month and a credit card for a monthly fee of 9€ a month, and the full allows unlimited withdrawals worldwide and unlimited SEPA transfers. As well as unlimited counter transactions and a free cheque book. This account costs 17€ a month.

Crédit Agricole Italia provides retail and corporate banking across 10 regions of Italy. Their bank account offers you unlimited cash withdrawals from their own ATM machines and 24 cash withdrawals from other banks for free. Cash withdrawals from other banks after the 24 are 2.10€. The cards are free except for the NEXI classic credit card which costs an annual fee of 30.99€ and they charge up to 2.50€ for SEPA transfers.

There are also a load of other bank accounts that I haven’t managed to look into yet. One thing is certain, you pay for your bank accounts in Italy (which is crazy to understand coming from the UK). If you go for the cheaper options then you have to pay to withdraw money, pay for a debit/credit card etc. So its best to find one that suits your needs. Hype is good if your tech savvy, but if you want to go in person to the bank then it would not be a good choice. If you want unlimited cash withdrawals then its better to go and get a higher premium account, however, if you use a credit card a lot then go for one with a lower charge for unlimited credit card use. Just shop around.

I verbi riflessivi

I have decided to try something new. I figured every new concept I learn in Italian I will post it here. This will help to both renew my learning, and hopefully it may help you a bit too. I am only learning Italian, so please do your own reading around the subject as well. And if I have made some mistakes please feel free to correct me.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reflexive verbs? Easy, peasy… Or not?

I struggled with reflexive verbs a little bit, until I actually actively went and learned the rules about them. Then I realised, ‘Oh this is actually really simple’. I was sat there with my grammar book, my ipad, my notebook and was expecting to be studying i verbi riflessivi all the day. I opened up google, typed in reflexive verbs in Italian, read a couple of web pages. Opened my grammar book and headed to the reflexive verb section. And within 10 – 15 minutes I was texting my partner, explaining it to him and he said ‘Yes, that is correct’.

What is a reflexive verb?

Reflexive verbs in Italian are verbs that are followed by si in their infinitive forms. The meaning of the word si is basically ‘oneself’. The subject and the direct object are the same, so, the action carried out is something that is being done to ‘oneself’.

Examples of reflexive verbs:

  • Svegliarsi – to wake up
  • Lavarsi – to wash
  • Addormentarsi – to fall asleep
  • Farsi il bagno – to take a bath
  • Divertirsi – to enjoy (oneself)
  • Chiamarsi – to call (oneself)
  • Pettinarsi – to comb (oneself)
  • Sedersi – to sit down
  • Sentirsi – to feel
  • Alzarsi – to get up
  • Spogliarsi – to undress
  • Innamorarsi – to fall in love

Reflexive verbs are often proceeded by a reflexive noun when conjugated.

This is an example with the reflexive Lavarsi in the present tense.

Personal Pronoun

Io

Tu

Lui/lei/Lei

Noi

Voi

Loro

Reflexive Pronoun

mi

ti

si

ci

vi

si

Verb

lavo

lavi

lava

laviamo

lavate

lavano

So how do we use these in sentences?

In the present tense, most reflexive verbs follow the exact same conjugation patterns as their -are, -ire, and -ere forms do. The only difference is the addition of the reflexive pronoun.

Examples:

  • Mi lavo
  • Ti vesti
  • Si sveglia
  • Ci mangiamo
  • I cani si divertono.

The placement of the reflexive pronoun is dependent on a couple of different things. Most of the time, as stated, it will go in front of the verb, as in the example above. However, in some cases it can attach to the end of the verb. This is the case with using the infinitive or an imperative. So if your telling someone to wake up you could say svegliati! Or if you are telling someone not to worry you could say non preoccuparti. Another case when you can use the reflexive pronoun after the verb is when the verb follows another verb such as volere, dovere or potere. For example: Devi alzarti (You must get up).

Using reflexive verbs in the past tense is also fairly simple. Reflexive verbs are conjugated with the auxiliary essere and this auxiliary goes after the reflexive pronoun. As well as this, these past participles have to agree with both the gender and number of the subject.

We will use some examples in the passato prossimo:

Mi sono alzato/a

Ti sei messo/a

Si è fermato/a

Ci siamo incontrati/e

Vi siete divertiti/e

Si sono sentiti/e

These conjugation rules work with all compound tenses, this means that they will work with trapassato prossimo, futuro anteriore and condizionale passato as well.

For other tenses that are not compound tenses (such as imperfetto, futuro semplice and condizionale presente) you just add the reflexive pronoun before the verb and conjugate as you would do normally.

An example of this in the futuro semplice using the verb vestirsi.

Mi vestirò

Ti vestirai

Si vestirà

Ci vestiremo

Vi vestirete

Si vestiranno

Change of date.

This post is going to be fairly brief. But we have been discussing the date of me moving to Italy and sadly have decided to extend this until at least the end of August. I have changed the counter on my page to reflect this. I was so sad seeing it go from 60 days to 113 days but it makes sense really. The whole of the world is shut down now due to this massive epidemic. We don’t know how long this is going to go on for. In fact, the current date will likely change again, depending on what happens. Yes Italy are slowly relaxing their lock down. No the UK are not. Wales has just extended it’s lock-down for another three weeks. My flights out to Italy at the end of May have been cancelled. I re-booked them for June. Even if these are not cancelled, I think trying to get everything sorted in one month with the country still not quite fully out of its lock-down will be nearly an impossible task.

This also gives me more time to save up. As I have not been working for the past couple of weeks due to self-isolating, it means I have fallen a little behind in my saving schedule. So more time to save is a bonus.

Also the lock-down means all of the language schools are closed down too. As I am hoping to get a job teaching English, this is another task that is impossible at the moment. Trying to find a job will simply have to wait. Extending the moving date gives me more time to allow the language schools to reopen and start taking applications again.

Studying with Netflix.

So, I have been reading blogs from polyglots and one post really stood out to me. It was about studying with Netflix.

I have already been using Netflix as a good resource for passive language learning. I changed the language to Italian, and watch all my TV shows in Italian with English subtitles.

However, I discovered through this blog article that you can get a chrome extension called Language Learning with Netflix.

The blog post above explains all so check it out. I don’t want to explain it in details here.

However, it basically works by providing you the option to watch shows in Netflix with subtitles in both your native and target language.

The way that The Malaysian Polyglot used it was by first watching an episode or film etc. with both subtitles. Then she studied the vocabulary she didn’t know before watching it again with just subtitles in her target language. Finally she watches it without any subtitles.

There is also ways to download the transcripts I believe, and then print them off.

This is something that I am going to definitely try so thank you so much for the blog.

Learning Italian?

So I have been learning Italian for around about two years now. This has been intermittent, and the majority of them two years I have not been learning on a regular basis. I did attend a summer school at a University last year which helped me improve so much. It gave me more confidence to speak the language with others, and I felt like I went from not knowing anything (except random vocabulary that I have no use for) to being able to hold a very basic conversation after this.

However, I didn’t seem to be progressing much in my Italian. I was learning more and more vocabulary but finding it increasingly difficult to string together words to hold more than a basic conversation.

Part of the reason for this is that I was directly trying to translate Italian to English and vice versus. If you know anything about Italian sentence structure, you would certainly know that this is not the best thing to do.

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things.”

Flora Lewis.

So what has changed?

Well I have decided to sit the CELI 3 exam in November. For those that don’t know, CELI 3 is a qualification offered by the Università per Stranieri di Perugia. It is recognised by the Italian Ministry of Education and Research as well as by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. CELI 3 is the third level of examination which is around the B2 level. B2 is the level that you need for citizenship, so I figured it was a good level to aim at to be able to live and work in Italy with ease.

These are the current CEFR (Common European Framework of reference for Languages) levels:

A1: Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.


A2: Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.


B1: Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.


B2: Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.


C1: Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing a controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


C2: Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

I am aiming to sit this exam in November. I haven’t booked anything for it yet, but it is May now and this gives me roughly 6 months to prepare for this. As well as preparing for this I will also be working a full time job and preparing to move to a new country, apartment hunting, registering myself as a resident, opening bank accounts, finding a new job and a whole load of other stuff. This means that for the next six months, I really need to organise my time well.

By the way, my partner purchased the book in the image above for me so thank you Alberto. I will be using it to prepare for the exam closer to the date.

So how am I going to do it?

First of all I looked at this blog. This blog was from a guy who has successfully sat his CILS exam at C2 level, which of course is much higher than the level I am intending to sit. However, his method of studying has definitely inspired me. I also watched a load of videos on Youtube from other language learners, and Polyglots on how they all learned to study languages. With these in mind I came up with a weekly schedule to follow.

This involves reviewing vocabulary 3 days a week, performing listening practises 6 days a week, practising verb conjugations twice a week, written exercises 3 times a week, watching videos on Youtube from a popular Italian Tutor called Lucrezia . These will be split across six days a week, leaving a full day to review everything I have learned that week. As well as this I will be watching vlogs in Italian, watching TV shows and films in Italian, reading books and articles in Italian and speaking on a regular basis with my Italian partner, Alberto.

Flashcards and Anki.

To review vocabulary I have made use of a technique described by Brian in the blog I linked above. This is using flashcards.

The flashcards I have started making by getting a list of the 1000 most common words used in Italian. I read somewhere that learning the 1000 most common words in Italian means that you will be able to understand 76% of literature and 87% of spoken Italian. So this seemed like a good place to start. I will also include in my flashcards phrases and words that I come across that I do not know.

These flashcards I have put into an app called Ankiapp.

I used Ankiapp rather than Anki for one main reason. Basically, I downloaded the wrong app. And I had already started writing my flashcards. I know you can download these and then transfer to Anki, however, I was now comfortable with this app and I liked the way it worked. I got the premium version which did cost me £23 for lifetime access. This enables me to use this app on both my PC, my iPad and my iphone, and to sync them together. I love the way this app works. You get to pick out of four options ‘Fail, Hard, Good and Easy’. These determine how often these cards then come up. Any you fail on will come up more often. This means that you are repeatedly being shown words you do not know so well. You also have an option to add tags. I did this for example for verbs. So if I wanted to study verbs one day, I can just use cards with this tag.

I have been adding around about 40 odd cards a day to the deck at the moment, and I can usually get all of these to an A grade within around 1 hour. So this seems like a good pace for me at the moment. I do not want to spend more than 1 hour a day on flashcards right now. Maybe closer to my November deadline I may devote more time to it.

Online Italian Club.

Another resource which I have been using is the Online Italian Club. This is a free resource and has content on it for every level. You can select the level you want to learn at and it will only show you content specific to that level.

I have been using this mostly for listening exercises, but I will use it more, and will try out all of the different features soon. This is a new resource I have only found out about this week so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore it yet. But so far it has been brilliant. It is completely free and you do not need to sign up for membership, although they do have an option to sign up to what seems to be a mail list.

Reading short stories.

Recently I have been reading some short stories from the Letture Italiano Facile series such as the following Pasta per due. This book is at a beginners level – Livello 1 and is A1, containing 500 words, so I was able to read this comfortably and enjoy it as a way to relax. It was not a strain for me to read this book at all, and I found it very amusing. The book also has some handy features, like it explains some popular card games, as well as having a large exercise section in the back of the book. I also have bought another one called ‘Amore in paradiso’ which is at livello 2 – A1/A2 and is 1000 words.

As well as these, I have several books on my kindle containing various short stories that range in levels, from easier to more difficult as you progress through the book.

Watching films, TV shows and videos on YouTube.

I have been watching TV shows on Netflix for a while now in Italian with English subtitles. I am not yet comfortable with being able to watch a show without any English subtitles. However, I have recently started watching some youtube videos from Italian youtubers without any subtitles at all.

As I have recently started to do this, I haven’t got a very long list of channels I follow but I will do a post on this at a later date, with some recommendations.

Why am I moving to Italy?

Hi guys. As this is my first blog post I thought I would give you a little insight into why I am moving to Italy and the whole thought process behind it.

So why?

Well basically… I met a guy. He is Italian. And it goes on from there.

So me and Alberto have been in a long-distance relationship for nearly three years. Crazy huh? This involves a lot of creativity in keeping our relationship intimate. And no, I don’t just mean in ‘that way’. Dirty buggers! I mean… finding ways to do things that all couples do, like watching a TV show together. We do this on Netflix usually by the way. At the moment we’re watching a great show called Shtisel, which we are both loving. And it’s in Hebrew, or Yiddish. I don’t recall which one, or even if there is a difference? One thing I do know though is that it is a language neither of us speak! We like to synch this up together during a voice call on discord, which usually involves Alberto counting down from 3, in an array of languages. Ok ok, just two languages. English or Italian. Luckily my Italian is now good enough to be able to count down from three.

Anyway, I am not going to bore you with details of our long-distance relationship. It has been tough at times, but we survived it. And I got to visit a beautiful country a whole heap load of times. Bonus.

 “Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.”

Anna Akhmatova

I don’t even remember when we had decided we were going to live together. Him moving to the UK though was not really an option. So Alberto graduated Med School in February 2019 (I hope that is right? I am pretty sure he would kill me if it wasn’t). Since graduating med school, he had to do some crazy exam along with all of the other recent med graduates in Italy. This huge exam was to gain a place in a residency. Basically, whoever scores the highest gets to pick their residency first. Alberto of course is super intelligent, and did fairly well in this. So he managed to get the residency in his hometown. He is now doing this for the next 5 years. So therefore, the only option was for me to move to Italy.

Who wouldn’t want to move to Italy though? Great food, fantastic weather, beautiful architecture… its a dream right?

So we set a date. This date has changed several times in the process. First we had decided when I graduated from my Msc, then we changed it til later. And then even later. It currently stands at the beginning of July. On a Monday, as it is my father’s day off work and he can drive me to the airport. I think the provisional date I set was July 6th.

2020-07-06T16:58:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Moving to Italy!

Aaaaaaaah. At the time of writing this, there is 61 days until that date! Crazy. There is so much to do in the mean time.

Unfortunately, due to this global epidemic that is going on at the moment, that provisional date is highly likely to change. We are just waiting at the moment for any news of the lock-down in both Italy and the UK ending. So fingers crossed. I will keep you guys updated.

By the way. If you want some insight into the place I am going to be living. It is a city called Bari, which is the capital city of Puglia, a region in the South of Italy, right on the heel of the country pretty much. You can see it where the red balloon is on the map below.

Bari is a beautiful city on the coast. There are loads of beaches around, and a big port in Bari. And the old town is absolutely stunning. It is also one of the largest cities in the area, so has plenty to do. A lot of shops, bars and restaurants. Hopefully it will also be convenient for me to find a job there as well.

I have inserted a random picture I found online of Bari just for reference. In no way is this my own photograph, frankly I am definitely not that talented. So thanks google image search and lonelyplanet.com for the snap. Very grateful!

Image by Michal Ludwiczak / Getty Images