Saturday, August 31, 2013

Exploring Our New Home

Buon pomeriggio! I have finally taken the day today to do pretty much nothing. The past few days have been filled with so many new experiences and information about our new home that many of us have felt a bit overwhelmed and exhausted. "Culture shock" was a concept that I was prepared to face however no matter how much you prepare there will always be things that take a little more time to adjust to. Being organized and bringing items from home however has certainly helped with these adjustments. For future study abroad students I would definitely recommend bringing items such as: a bath towel, wash cloths, shampoo, soap, sheets, maps, a water bottle etc. so long as weight in your suitcase permits. When you first arrive in a foreign country the last thing you want to worry about is where to buy toothpaste!

With that being said- I'll briefly update you all on what I have been up to for the past few days! Since I last wrote, I have been able to see more of the city and I have already memorized how to get to certain places including the main center where the Duomo is from our apartment. Unfortunately, our apartment is a decent hike to the main attractions, while some students I have met live right above the Hard Rock Cafe in the main center! A little extra excerise doesn't hurt so I'm not complaining but my terrible walking feet are struggling lol! We're also fortunate to be able to explore a part of the city that we most likely wouldn't often go to if we lived so close to everything.

Thursday night I had my first gelato. We had to walk to the center at 10 pm to find one that was still open! I must say- maybe the first Gelateria I went to wasn't the best but I haven't figured out what the big deal is about gelato compared to regular ice cream. If I experience the life-altering moment that others seem to rave about after eating gelato I'll make sure to make note! Also on Thursday night we met the landlord of our apartment. He is a cute little Italian man probably late 50s who was very sweet, helpful and very welcoming!

Yesterday we met with our advisor who gave us loads of information. The Italians talk very fast even when they're speaking Enlgish so most of what she said went through one ear and out the other. We were able to explore the area where most of our classes will be which is jam packed with tourists! I'm looking forward to Autumn when suppossedly the amount toursits dies down a little. After a long morning we went to dinner at a fun Restaurant called ZaZa's near the San Lorenzo market. I had a delicious fettucini bolognese dish. Dining at restaurants in Italy is very different from America in several ways. First- water is not free. I drink a lot of water during the day and I have found myself on the verge of feeling very dehydrated often. Also- they include a "gratitude" charge in the bill. Last night we ate outside right by the street with a party of 7 and they included a 15 charge.
After dinner we experienced our first night out in Florence! We pregamed at our neighbors apartment and went to a club called Space. It took us about an hour to get there when it should have taken us 18 minutes because none of us knew where we were going! Once we got there the first floor was empty until we discovered the second floor which was filled with people from all over the world. When you arrive at the club you get a card that allows you one free drink and each time you order they punch your card. At the end of the night you pay at a checkout point for all of your drinks- definitely very different from how we go out in the US! To summarize our night at Space I will say it was a crazy experience and that it won't be our last time going but it most likely will not be a regular spot! Lol

Today and tomorrow before classes start on Monday I plan on enjoying some down time and exploring the city to become more comfortable finding where my classes are. I already have trips booked for each weekend up to October 5th so far so I'm taking advantage of the down time I have in Florence before we start school.

Overall I've felt like I was meant to study abroad in the Fall of 2013. I have already made some great friends and I feel very comfortable with my decision to study abroad. Everything happens for a reason and  I can't wait to see what the rest of my journey holds! So far- I never want it to end!!

Fun fact about Florence- so many of the locals have dogs. The other day I saw a golden retreiver and a black lab and of course immediately it made me miss my Richie. I did not expect to see so many people with pets considering Florence only has a few parks in our area where they can run and play. But I'm such a crazy dog lover so I love seeing them!


The beautiful Duomo

Club Space

Drying clothes-Italy style!


Left to Right: Courtney, Me, Melanie, Kirsten, Savannah, Maria, Caroline

Chocolate, Vanilla & Cookies and cream!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On an Evening in Florence

Its currently midnight on this beautiful night in Firenze, Italy. I have survived my first day! I'm writing at my desk in front of my bedroom window which overlooks the city--pictures just do not do this kind of beauty any justice! 

The past 48 hrs or so have been the longest hours of my life-- however my travels to Florence could not have gone any better! Between great seats on the plane, friendly people, and a safe & timely arrival I cannot complain one bit! I'm convinced my guardian angels were with me every step of the way.

I have already met some amazing people- local Florentines and American students at LdM. I met my 4 other roommates today Caroline, Melanie, Rachel & Victoria- they're all so sweet! After settling into our rooms (Oh and carrying 150+ lbs of luggage up 4 floors!) we took a much needed nap and then headed out for some vino. I had an amazing potato gnocchi dish-- that disappeared pretty quickly. A friendly local gave me a beautiful rose while we were sitting at dinner-- the italians sure know it's the little things that put a smile on someone's face. 

Tomorrow we are all heading to orientation for LdM students. I'm looking forward to learning more about what to expect regarding classes while in Florence. Sometimes I have to be reminded that I AM actually here for school- woops! I hope you all enjoy following along with my journey-- stay tuned! Ciao!

Sunrise over Paris this morning
The girls!
The digs
Bedroom view
Potato Gnocchi

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Home Is Where the Heart is

I feel blessed that I’ve grown to acquire such an appreciation for my home—Hebron, CT. I used to count down the days until I could move far away from this small town. However, as much as I love to travel I always look forward to having a beautiful home to come back to—filled with loving family, friends & my Sunny. Which reminds me to thank my true friends and amazing family for supporting me during the preparation for this journey ahead of me. Those who know me well know that this process hasn’t been all smiles & rainbows and I couldn’t ask for a better support system!

Just 8 days away from my departure now- who knew studying abroad wasn’t just as easy as getting on a plane, selecting a few classes and seeing the world? I’ve never been more excited, anxious, and nervous in my life. Stepping off that plane onto Italian soil I will feel like all the weight can finally be lifted off my shoulders. Goodbyes are never easy for me—but this time I feel so much bliss in saying, “Arrivederci America!” It’s time for this New England girl to finally embark on the adventure of her dreams! Can’t wait to make Florence, Italy my new “home”.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors."                                                                   Terry Pratchett