Okay blog, it’s officially been one week since I’ve been in Florence. I feel like I’ve been here for a lot longer than this though! I have my bearings and know where I’m going around town (for the most part). Here is a random jumble of my thoughts based on what’s been happening the past week or so!
FOOD: I regularly frequent Conad, the local grocery store with great prices (and lactose-free milk!! yay!!), the 99 cent euro store which has cheap shampoo and body wash and some snacks when on break from class, the bank that’s just a few steps from my host home to get cash (lucky that my bank only has a 1% international trans fee!!), and so far my roommates and I have tried several different restaurants & gelato places.
To be honest, as stupid as this sounds, I miss ice cream. Gelato is borderline too much for my tastebuds.
Best pizza I’ve had so far: from this little restaurant called Trattatoria or Pizzeria Bondi. BEST pesto pizza EVER!! I even was super adult and got prosecco with it, but quickly realized I would have rather gotten a Coke because it’s too adult and not sweet enough. But they were the same price, so oh well. I have also had amazing carbonara from a restaurant close to the Ponte Vecchio bridge (that I can’t remember the name of currently because of course I can’t). My host mom makes amazing gnocchi also, so I’m loving the food situation here.
Another note: I have noticed that when I eat, literally anywhere at any restaurant eating anything, EVEN GELATO here in Florence, I don’t feel sick or gassy (TMI? whatevs y’all, you probably have felt it too), or like I overate. Which is awesome, because the food is bomb. I’ve also been way less sedentary here, bombing my goal of 10,000 steps a day and raising my bar to usually over 13-14,000! The food is just so much better for you – no preservatives or additives that change it. I really enjoy that here and I love how I don’t feel bad or gross about eating, especially with all the yummy food here.
CLASSES: I started classes this week, which is exciting! I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you: LdM classes are ESPENSIVE.
My first class is Color Theory, and at 5pm here my prof announced we were all going to a local art store to buy our kit of supplies. Which was DISCOUNTED at 186,45 euro = $222 US. Ha. So discounted. I am poor and this is nonsense. Especially nonsense because I had a solid majority of the supplies at home in MN that I didn’t think about bringing because it would only take up crazy space in my luggage/backpack.
My color theory class professor made us share our heritages and stuff like that (so many nationalities in that class, I love it!), and everyone in my class thought it was so cool that I’m Cajun French (and Italian and Swedish)!
Then yesterday, in my Food & Wine Pairing class (yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds), I found out the lab fee is 165 euro – 135 for the lab fee and 25 for the book. 165 euro = $197 US. Ouch.
Cool note about Food & Wine Pairing: my professor is a professional Sommelier and chef, and he knows all the things about wine and food. And putting them together. He and his assistant guy made a “poor man’s Ragu” sauce (that’s the name I gave it, at least – it’s made with vegetables instead of meat). Carrots, onions, celery, cherry tomatoes, and tomato paste, with penne pasta. It was awesome! Your typical bolognese sauce in Italy is a traditional ragu, but they called bolognese for a reason I can’t remember. My brain is a little mushy. During this class, the professor asked us why we were taking the class, and I was the ONLY person who admitted to not liking wine, and I got stares from everyone. I just said that “I don’t actually like wine, yet. I’m hoping that this class will help me to appreciate it a lot more and that I’ll learn to like it over the course of the semester.” Oh well.
I am also required to take Italian which I am loving so far. Living with a host family and taking 7 years of Spanish has really helped me with my pronunciation and understanding so far of the language! A lot of my Spanish is coming back to me too now, weirdly enough. I always want to greet everyone with Ciao or Buonjourno, and it’s weird to talk to adults without the Italian accent. Also, I now can tell you what my name is, what I study, where I live, how old I am, and where I’m from in Italian pretty easily. My professor is great & I had a couple classmates ask me if I know Italian 😉 lol i don’t, but I’m around it a lot. Also, only like 30 or so students out of hundreds do a homestay. So I’m pretty lucky and thankful to be here (thanks Mallory for the recommendation!!!).
I had my Design for Living Spaces class today, which is my Interior Design Studio 1 course. There are 3 students in it, including me. It’s insane. My professor seems so kind and very knowledgeable, and the other two girls are from Mexico and are very sweet. Talk about getting one-on-one help from the prof!
Tomorrow I have my Palaces of Florence class with my housemate, and I’m excited for that!! It’s an art history course. Most classes are only one day per week, with the exception of Italian which meets twice (mine on T/Th).
CITIZENSHIP: I also had to pay for my Permit of Stay so I don’t get deported for being here longer than the permitted 90 days (without a temporary citizenship thing), which was 156 euro = $186 US. WHAT THE HECK ITALY. STOP TAKING ALL MY MONEY.
TRAVEL: Last weekend on Saturday my housemate and I took a day trip to Cinque Terre with a tour company that has an awesome 30% off discount code! We did the whole thing for 31 euro ($38 something US), and got to go to the beach, had all our transportation included, and got some yummy gelato. Also, PRICELESS VIEWS. GOOGLE DON’T LIE. SERIOUSLY. LOOK.
It was so amazing. Those pics are obviously only a few that I took. I kinda wish I had brought a sweet camera, but I feel like I don’t quite know enough about photography to walk around with a camera that says I do 😉 However, my iPhone can take some sweet pictures, so I’m happy. This weekend my roommates and I are taking another day trip to PISA!! Leaning Tower of Pisa, for 17 euro. So sweet. I love Europe and cheap things hehehhe.
HOST FAMILY: I love them. My host mom, Francesca, is so wonderful! The host siblings are nuts, a 12 year old girl, 10 year old boy, and 6 year old boy. All are very sassy but fun. Francesca told us that this (massive) apartment we are all staying in has been in the family for over 100 years! Tomorrow night, there is a lantern festival that we are going to with the family. It’s going to be so fun!! Think of Tangled, but only slightly less cool because we don’t send the lanterns into the sky.
ROOMMATES: I have one roommate, Ashleigh. She is 26 and from Hawaii, and so she has taught me some Hawaiian words/slang. She is very outgoing and super social, so she gets me out of my comfort zone! She’s also a senior this year studying communications at University of Hawaii on Oahu. I’m definitely going to visit her sometime when this semester is over!! She’s also never had a roommate, but she’s said I’m a good one so that’s nice to hear!
My housemate is named Nellie and she’s from Iowa! She goes to MSU Mankato, funnily enough, so she knows about everything Midwest and can relate to me when Ashleigh gets confused with our references to the “Twin Cities” etc. It’s been really fun getting to know these girls better and sharing these experiences with them.
So far, God is challenging my heart in a few ways. One of these is patience – everything is slow here. Everyone walks slow, eats slow, moves slowly in general (except for Conad, they’re like Aldi speedy where you basically need to have your groceries in your car before you’ve even paid lol), sometimes tensions between personalities frustrate me, and tension in the house with the family dynamic. I’m really having to work on reminding myself that God is using this time and he’s working in it, even though I may be super crabby about something dumb. There’s all more than meets the eye that’s happening here!
“Ciao for now,” as my tour guide would say (don’t worry, I was cringing as I typed that too.)