Reasons for writing: Things are happening, the world is changing

I received so many nice responses to the last article that I wrote for The Express community newspaper that I have found myself with a bit of writer’s block as to what to write next.

So, I decided to write this letter.

Although I can’t say it with absolute certainty, it might be appropriate to express that I’ve settled into life here in Bologna.

This past month was a bit transitory, in a way, because I did not have a strict routine, which provided the opportunity for wonderful experiences and several days of waking up at noon, although I have to say that mountain biking through the vineyards of Emilia-Romagna followed by a wine festival in a medieval hilltop town is an experience I’d recommend to anyone.

Mostly though, this month has been filled with visits with old friends, and Italian hospitality is one of the most pleasant aspects of this country.

On Monday, Sept. 30, I had my first day of school, which, like everything, was quite an experience.

I’ve had some problems getting advice with the whole school thing, so I was not as prepared as I would have liked to have been when it came to the first day.

However, Italians operate at a much slower pace than Americans do when it comes to doing almost anything, let alone technical things such as registering for classes or paying bills.

The only real advice I received was from one of the numerous secretaries I had spent the previous week visiting.

Her words, “Just relax. These things generally take care of themselves. You just have to have patience.”

With these words in mind, I set out from my house at 8:45 in the morning for a 9 a.m. class and promptly found myself lost. I spied some people with backpacks though, and in a few minutes found my way to San Giovani in Monte, a church dating from the 11th Century, next to which is the building in which I have class.

My next step was finding my classroom, and my heart was pounding from nervousness as well as the two cups of coffee I had in an attempt to wake up. After three different sets of directions, I finally found the classroom, but was reserved to enter, since it was 9:10.

I swallowed my nerves, opened the door, and was somewhat surprised to see that the professor hadn’t even arrived yet. In Italian academics, there is what is known as the “quarto d’ora academica,” which translates to the academic 15 minutes. Apparently I was still early.

Shortly thereafter, the professor, a little, excited man with big round glasses came in and delivered a two-hour lecture on the importance of studying the history of philosophy.

To my surprise, I understood most of what he was talking about, both with regard to the philosophy he cited and the fact that the lecture was delivered in Italian.

Afterward, I stopped to introduce myself to him. With a big smile, he shook my hand and said, “Welcome to the University of Bologna. If you need any help with anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

It is at this point where I find myself now. Things are happening, and the world is changing.

Sometimes it’s quite scary or overwhelming at the very least, and sometimes I am very underprepared, but ultimately, and especially in these days, I find myself thinking back to the advice given to me by that lovely woman in the Student’s Secretary Office.

“Just relax,” I tell myself. “These things generally work themselves out. You just have to have patience.”

Wilson Riccardo, a Lock Haven native and Central Mountain High School graduate, is studying and working in Bologna, Italy. His musings will be appear occasionally in The Express during his journey. Feedback or greetings are welcome and may be sent to Wilson via email at