Published on August 30th, 2013 | by Rachel Budke2
My First Days in Florence
Today was my third day in Florence, Italy! It has been a very busy few days! It feels like I have been here longer than just three days. I get lost all the time and always have to pull my map out…I’m looking forward to the point in time when I don’t have to do that anymore. One thing that I will start out with, is it seems like everyone who is studying abroad here struggles with the same feeling – worrying about sounding like we are bragging. I want to address this from the start, because that is not what I want any of this to be perceived as. Florence is an amazing place, and I just want to be able to share with you a little bit of what it is like. I am beyond fortunate to be here, and I want to thank everyone for being so supportive of my decision to study abroad. I worked very hard to get to this point, and I am so happy that it is finally happening. I am also wanting to share my memories on my blog so that I can remember and cherish the little moments that I might otherwise forget. Also, apologies in advance for the poor photo quality. I haven’t been very good about taking my camera around with me, so most of them are taken with my iPhone.
With all of that being said, I will just start from the very beginning and then make my way forward. I started off taking a plane to Philadelphia. I was very nervous because this was my very first plane ride where I was by myself. I sat by a man from Greece who was going to go visit his brother in Athens. He was very nice and was very excited for me and my adventures ahead. After my layover in Philly, I flew to Brussels, Belgium. The flight was awful, I couldn’t sleep and it was very cold on the plane. I also didn’t talk to the guy sitting next to me at all, because I don’t think he spoke english. It was a very nice airport, and I bought some chocolate there. After that, I finally had a flight to Florence, Italy! Yay!
When I got to the airport, I took a cab to the check-in area. I was given a packet of information and my apartment keys. They told me the check-in was close enough to my apartment to walk. In retrospect, this was a terrible idea, but I think I was just so shocked and tired that I went ahead and did it. I ended up having to drag my first suitcase all the way to my apartment, about a 15 minute walk. I know that doesn’t seem too difficult, but it was very hard to pull it across the cobblestone streets, plus the fact that I was in a foreign country all by myself. When I arrived at my apartment, I starting lugging my suitcase up the stairs, because there are no elevators here. When I got half way through the first flight of stairs, I realized that the lights automatically switch off about every 15 seconds. It was a rough move-in day! I wish the school I am going to would have offered a little more help because it was very overwhelming.
When I finally made it to my apartment, which by American standards is on the 4th floor, I met my roommate Victoria and her step-mom. They are very nice, and helped make my move-in day a lot better. Her step-mom took us out to lunch, and we had some pizza. On our way back to the apartment, we took a cab to deliver my second suitcase. I should have taken a cab the first time…it was so much easier.
My other three roommates are Regan, Caroline and Melanie. They are all really nice. We all went to dinner together, along with Sam, who goes to K-State with me. You can check out her blog, here. She is going to be in Florence for a whole year! At the restaurant, I ordered blue cheese and pear gnocchi, it was very good.
The next day, we had to go to orientation early in the morning. We got lost (as usual) and ended up showing up 15 minutes late. I was worried that we would get in trouble, but it the stereotype of Italians being late everywhere is very true. Orientation didn’t start until about 30 minutes after we showed up. After orientation, we were all very tired and hungry and stopped to get lunch. I thought I ordered a salmi sandwich but it turns out it was sort of like a salmi flatbread pizza sort of thing. It was good, just not what I thought I ordered. Later, we had to go to another orientation meeting. Everything we’ve been told is generally very repetitive.
We also met our landlord, Hamid. He is such a sweet older man and definitely has the charming Italian personality. He told us he decorated our apartment in a way to make it feel like how normal Italians would live. He mentioned something about how it is just the right amount of amenities to allow you to live a happy, simple life. He lives right next to us, up about a couple of steps. At first, we thought this was a little strange, but after meeting him, we realized he is very nice and seems trustworthy. It is a very rustic and cozy apartment. I will share photos of it soon!
At night, I went with Victoria and Regan to get some gelato. We ending up walking by the Duomo. This was the first time I saw it up close – it was absolutely beautiful! I that Ada, who did the restaurant recommendation post on my blog, told me that I will be stunned when I first see it, but I didn’t think I would be. She was correct in every way. It is giant and really intricate and beautiful. This was my favorite thing about Florence so far. Especially at night, the duomo is just amazing.
Today, I didn’t wake up until 12:30 in the afternoon. I kind of felt guilty for sleeping so late, but obviously my body needed it! I went on a walking tour of campus, which will hopefully help me from getting lost so much. I also signed up for two academic field trips today, one to Rome and the other to Nice/Monte Carlo/the French Riviera. That will be very fun!
I went to dinner with Madison (who also goes to K-State with me), her roommates, and Victoria. It was a fun little place that had kind of a more modern, young atmosphere. The food was sort of buffet style, and it was okay but kind of salty. After dinner, Madison, Victoria and I went to get gelato at Grom. This was the first time I ate anything at a place that I had researched previously. It was fantastic. I got pistachio and dark chocolate. Based on what I’ve heard, the best gelato is when it is covered up with lids and you cannot see it.
Some general things I have noticed about Italy are that it is very busy and people are always walking around in the middle of the streets. The traffic is really crazy and you have to be very alert and cautious. It would be very easy to be hit by a car if you are not paying attention. There are a lot of big pigeons here, I know that’s very random, but I didn’t know that. All of the famous buildings and monuments and statues just kind of pop up randomly as you are walking down the street – it’s pretty cool! Waiters and sales people will walk up to you all the time and try to get you to go into their restaurants or buy things from them.
That’s about everything I have done so far, I hope I didn’t bore you too much…I know this was a very long blog post! Thanks for reading along! Ciao!