Saturday, October 3, 2015

Exploring my New Surroundings

The first week of Florence was slightly overwhelming, but still very exciting at the same time. After the first night in Florence, I woke up around 8:00am because I was so excited to go outside and explore. I left my apartment around 8:30am and to my surprise, the streets were pretty empty. People were just opening up their stores and setting up their tents for the outdoor markets in the piazza by my apartment building. I figured that Italians start their day a little later than I had expected. I continued to walk further down the street in hopes of finding a more open spaces like a piazza. The streets of florence are very small and almost looks like a maze, so I was afraid of getting lost. If I were in the states, I would usually go on my phone and use my GPS, but here in Florence, I do not have data on my phone without WIFI so, I had to get used to relying on street signs rather than my iPhone. This was so difficult for me, but it helped me in the long run because I was able to familiarize myself with my surroundings faster.

After just a few minutes of walking, I was able to find my school! To my relief, it took about 5 minutes to get there from my apartment and it was also surrounded by many cafes and stores. I could not wait to eat and shop! I decided to find a cafe and order myself a coffee and something for breakfast. There was a small cafe by my school called Cafe Bianchi that I decided to try out. After practicing how to order my coffee over and over in my head I finally ordered in Italian to test out my skills. The waitress could tell I was American (probably because of my american accent) and answered me back in english. I was a little thrown off because I wanted to practice Italian, but in a way it was comforting to hear english and I didn’t feel like a fish out of water. 

After enjoying my first cappuccino and pastry, I decided to keep walking towards the river to see more of Florence. The streets suddenly became very busy as all the shops and restaurants began to open. I could tell this was a touristy area because there were a lot of small gift shops and large groups of people following tour guides. Since the streets were filled with people, it was nice to walk along the river where the space was more open and the view was so amazing as well. As I continued to walk along the river, I not only was familiarizing myself with my surroundings, but I was also using the opportunity to people watch. One of the first things I noticed was that no one was out jogging or wearing any workout clothes. This surprised me because athletic wear is a big trend in the United States. It’s acceptable and fashionable in the states to wear athletic wear even if you are not planning on working out. So many questions started running through my mind. Do people work out here? How are they not overweight? And where can I go to workout? I enjoy working out because it releases stress and makes me feel better and in addition, I knew for sure that I will be eating a lot of pizza, pasta, and gelato so I had to figure out where to workout soon.

The next few days throughout the week consisted of meeting new students in my apartment building and getting ready to start school. Luckily, we had 2 days of orientation that week for the international students so, I was able to see what the classrooms looked like and I got to meet the other international students as well. There are about 50 international students and 400 students within the entire school, so it is a small university. It was really cool to meet the students at this school because unlike Drexel, Accademia Italiana is just a design school so everyone I met had similar interests as me. 

Thanks to the two day orientation, I felt better about starting school the following Monday. The students and professors I met were all very nice and welcoming and the classes were not hard to find. The only slight issue I had was that my class schedule was messed up. I was in classes I did not sign up for and it made me nervous because I needed to make sure I was taking certain  to in order to stay on track with my courses at Drexel. Thankfully, the professors at Accademia were very helpful and my advisor was able to meet with me right away to change my schedule around. 

Although everything was going well so far and the people I met were really nice, I was a little upset that I barely had the chance to practice Italian. Everyone who lives in my building is from the United States and when I am trying to order food or drinks in Italian at a restaurant, the waiters answer me back in english. Practicing Italian was going to be harder than I thought. However, I knew I couldn’t be too discouraged yet considering I was only there for a few days and school hasn’t started yet. So far, everything was going well and although I was already missing friends and family, I was excited to start my semester long journey here! 

-DM
This is the view from the rooftop terrace at my school

The river I walk along to get to class




11 comments:

  1. It was so interesting to hear your about your experience since you've been in Florence! It is comforting to hear that there are many people who can speak some English, just to make it feel a little more like home. It is also interesting that there is no one in athletic wear on the streets, as it is such a major trend in the United States, but I guess being dressed in your day to day clothes all the time keeps a classic feel to the city, unlike Philadelphia or New York where you can walk down the street and see someone in Nike and Lululemon on every corner. Thanks for sharing your experience and good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow Italy is so beautiful and it's so amazing that you get to learn someone new that isn't Philly! That's unfortunate that you haven't had a chance yet to practice your Italian but I'm sure the opportunity will arise. It's very interesting that they don't work out on the streets or wear athletic wear at all. Maybe the only time the ever really work out is in a gym. Maybe they don't need to work out as much since portion sizes around the world are known for being smaller than the normal portion size in America. It is so great to hear about your experience and you're so lucky to get to experience the lifestyle of a different country!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was surprised to see the first post on this blog to be about going abroad to Florence, because I have considered the Florence for myself in the future. My relatives are from Florence and I thought it would be a cool place to be immersed in the culture and continue college in. From what you wrote about the city, it sounds very similar to a city in Spain I visited this summer. What you said about the activewear made me realize that no one in Spain wore work out clothing either. They always wore button up shirts and khaki pants. Overall, it sounds like you are having a great time!! I wish you the best with your Italian and education!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's interesting reading this because I went abroad too, but in high school. I had similar experiences living in Japan: no usable phone and no WiFi, which can be terrifying! Being able to navigate the town helps you gain a lot of confidence though, so one day it may not matter and actually be nice to disconnect. I also had a similar experience in Japan with speaking. My homeroom teacher also taught english so he would only talk to me in english despite me answering in Japanese. Once you start making local friends who understand that you want to practice the language, you don't notice the other people that much. Looking forward to reading more on your adventure!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It was very intriguing to hear about your first few days on your new adventure as a student studying abroad. I found it very interesting how you took note of people in Italy’s clothing and how they weren’t walking around the streets in athletic wear as we often see throughout America. I’m sure it came of some shock as that’s all people seem to be wearing now a days. On a different note, I can relate in terms of having to familiarize yourself with your surroundings instead of being able to rely on your phone for directions while wondering around and exploring a new city. This summer I was traveling throughout Europe with my family and without an international phone it was slightly overwhelming knowing you had to rely on actual street signs and have an idea of where you were in regards to where you must return. I hope you have a great semester abroad and get to immerse yourself in the amazing culture that makes up Italy. Best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really enjoyed hearing about your experience in Italy. I am actually going to be traveling there this summer and I can't wait! I like that since you did not have WIFI you had to explore your surroundings by yourself. I feel like that is the best way to really get a sense of where you are living and to find out what places are around you. Sometimes when you get lost you end up finding some really cool and interesting places. I think the reason why many people don't workout in Italy is because the portion sizes in Europe are smaller than the sizes in America. When I went to London a year ago, they had smaller portions for their meals.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Danielle CalcavecchiaOctober 19, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    I've always wanted to visit Florence and reading this made me want to go even more! I really enjoyed your humor about things that could otherwise be stressful. I would be so scared to wander off alone because, like you said, the streets are like a maze. Good job sticking with it anyway because that's the best way to learn. I also liked how you observed everything around you. It seems like you're really taking full advantage of the experience. I give you a lot of credit for attempting Italian as well. I can remember struggling with that in high school. Best of luck with everything!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Florence sounds amazing! You are incredibly lucky to have this experience! Going abroad is a huge change and it sounds like you are handling it well. I love how you incorporated humor and relatable questions to keep me interested in your post. I've been trying to plan a trip it Italy and Florence will now definitely be on my list of stops! Best of luck to you, and I can't wait to hear more abut this trip!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It was very interesting reading about your experience in Florence. I am also considering studying abroad in Florence, and your pictures are beautiful! I found it surprising that there wasn't anyone in Italy wearing athletic clothing considering it is such a big trend here in the United States. I'm sure as time goes on you will be able to speak more Italian! Best of luck with the rest of your semester!

    ReplyDelete