Nuevo parole di Italiano: fattoria (farm), caseificio (cheese house),
The official first week of classes for Universita’ degli studi di Parma has begun. So what did we do this week? We had some experiences on the Parma buses, learned some Italian, visited a farm, enrolled in the University, and paid some rent.
We have now figured out the bus system here in the city. As you know, our last trip on the buses lasted a little bit longer than we expected it to. We now have a bus pass for a month, and then in April we can buy a three month bus pass if we want to. They only sell the “three month” passes every three months.
After our bus adventure, Federico decided the next day that he would pick us up at our apartment. We went to the vet faculty and did some more translating of the blog and learned some more grammar from Federico.
Wednesday, Federico picked us up in the vet faculty’s van. This van is like a box. The sides and the back are literally straight up and down. From our apartment we went to a dairy farm owned by the Scalabrini family, about 25 kilometers outside of the city. It is a “antica fattoria e caseifico”, meaning it is an old farm and a cheese house. The site includes its 300 cow dairy operation, its cheese production facility, and a store. This combination is something found often in Italy. As they are producing genuine parmigiano-reggiano cheese, they cannot feed fermented forages or TMR as per their co-op’s requirements. They feed hay and grain. They are not looking for quantity, but quality. Further, the evenings milk sets in shallow vats in the cheese plant overnight in order to separate the solids, and when the mornings milk arrives, the partially-skimmed milk is added, and the cheese making process begins. This means that timing is crucial. As such, the farm uses a double 14 parlor in order to milk their 300 cows fast to feed the cheese plant. This is a common practice in Italy. Unlike in the States where parlors often run around the clock, they only milk for 4 hours a day to get the milk to their cheese plant on time. At the end of the tour, Federico bought us 2 kilograms of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and the farm owner gave us what is an equivalent to about 2 containers of fresh Ricotta cheese. (Grazie mille per Federico e la famigla Scalabrini!) We mixed the ricotta with some tomato sauce and threw it in with some big noodles for dinner. It was very delicious.
Today Federico picked us up again and took is to the central offices of the University in a small car, called a Fiat Panda.
The offices are located in the center of the city in a building that we have heard is upwards of 400 years old. According to [http://old.unipr.it/ects.php?info=Guidaateneo&tipo=a0506&ID=4&lang=en], the earliest diploma found from the University was from 962 AD. In the central offices, we went to the Erasmus department, which is the European name for an exchange program. Here, we paid our rent (350€, which is roughly $482), got enrolled in the University, and learned about the bus system as I mentioned earlier. However, to be fully enrolled, we need to bring passport-type photos to the Erasmus office, so we can get our ID cards and our exam booklet. Luckily, we can just go to a photo booth (like the fun ones in malls) at the train station to get instant passport photos ourselves, relatively cheaply. Once that is finished, we will be completely enrolled.
After enrollment, we took the bus “campus”. What they call campus is where the main academic buildings and departments are, including the basics: The ag school, engineering, math, sciences, and linguistics, among others. We headed to the linguistics department for our first day of an elementary Italian course. It was a bit overwhelming, but the translating that we did, our background in Spanish, and the lessons with Federico gave us enough background to understand what was going on—for the most part. In the class there were students from Poland, Portugal, the UK, and Iran. They knew much more Italian than we did.
Following class, we went back to the central offices for a meeting for Erasmus students about a teaching placement opportunity. The University partners with local primary and middle schools and lets exchange students help teachers teach their native language. This means that we would be able to go to an elementary or middle school and help teach English-an AWESOME opportunity. We also can get credit for this if we put in enough hours. Our ability to do this will depend on our class schedule, which we will find out about next week.
One more day of classes, and then we are off to Milan for a day trip on Saturday (at least that is the plan so far).