All right, everybody be cool, this is a robbery! (cue "Misirlou," and props if you get the reference).
A few days ago, after teaching English at Castel San Pietro, a small town outside of Bologna, I walked back into my apartment and found my bedroom door ajar. This in and of itself is not that unusual, because the door doesn't latch very well and sometimes gusts of wind blow it open. However, I was fairly certain that I had not left my desk drawer wide open or knocked my chair over before I left. Beginning to sense that something was wrong, I stepped into the room and found all my closet and cabinet doors open and everything in a general state of disarray. I stood still for a moment, taking in the scene. Then it hit me. Where was my computer? and my camera? and my earrings?
Suddenly frantic and hoping this was some kind of nasty prank, I ran into my roommate Benedetta's room and completely startled the young boy she was in the process of tutoring.
"Are you ok? Did you notice anything unusual today? Do you still have everything?"
By then it had begun to sink in: I had just somehow become the victim of a break-in and robbery. Fortunately for my three roommates, mine was the only room that was entered. A series of phone calls ensued, and before long Anna Maria, my program director, arrived with her daughter to take me to the Questura to file a claim. By this point, everything was absolutely surreal. I was sitting in the waiting room of a police station reading Italian picture books to a four-year-old and trying not to cry. I felt a bit like I was in Ferris Bueller or something. Eventually (several hours later), we were led back to a desk and un poliziotto wearing a striped t-shirt and an Armani man-purse half-heartedly took down my report. His literacy was questionable (he misspelled my name and address after copying them from my passport, and even Anna Maria commented that he wrote like a second-grader and apparently didn't feel the need to bother with punctuation), but in the end we manged to get down the list. I lost my computer, two cameras (my new DSLR and my older point-and-shoot), my iPod, my back-up drive, and all of my earrings and bracelets. Once everything was written down, il poliziotto advised me not to have hope and called in the next person.
I was still very much upset and in shock by this point, so I was very happy to find when I got home that Erica (who had taken a trip from France to Italy and dropped by to spend a few days in Bologna with me), had managed to make it back to the apartment without difficulty and had even made me dinner and a cup of tea.
That night I slept at a friend's nearby apartment (Erica was a good sport about substituting a bed for a couch), since I still felt too violated to stay in my apartment, let alone my room.
So, that was one (mis)adventure that I certainly wasn't expecting to have during my months abroad, but in the grand scheme of things it could have been much worse. At least no one was harmed, at least my passport wasn't taken, at least none of my roommate's things were touched, and so on. I also got a chance to appreciate the incredible safety net provided by the Brown program. Anna Maria and Lilia and Dr. Martinez in the office were incredible, dropping everything to take me to the police station, calling me repeatedly to check up for several days afterwards, having the locks in the apartment changed the same night, and so on. My friends from the program were also wonderful, continuing, as always, to be champs. Between the concussion earlier in the week and the break-in a few days ago, their ability to care for me has seriously been put to the test, and they have all come through in a very major way. The one upside to this horrible situations is that it has really put into perspective how lucky I am.
Anyway, updates will probably not be as frequent or as full of photos as they have been in the past, but I will do my best to keep caught up!