Two weeks in. Things are going well! In the past week, I got a lot of homework, dropped a class (LOL), went to a lantern festival, went to Pisa, ate some pizza and pasta, missed home (just a little), went to church, and made new friends!
CLASSES: So I dropped that Food & Wine Pairing class. I know that I seemed really excited about it in the last post, which I was, but it’s just too expensive. I really can’t afford all the fees! I only saved up so much before I came here, and over $400 in class fees weren’t a part of that budget. I decided to drop the class because I don’t really like wine, and it’s too expensive. I feel like that’s fair, and the best decision for me. This way, I can really focus on the other classes I really need to take and do well in (Color Theory & my Design for Living Spaces), and I’m not taking those extra 3 credits for no reason.
So far for my other classes I have gotten a decent amount of homework. Color Theory I had a couple drawings due, and my Design for Living Spaces I have a brief presentation due. With the Design for Living Spaces, I am having a hard time getting back into the groove because it’s been a year since I’ve used the design software like AutoCAD and Revit, so I feel totally confused and can’t remember how to set up my usual settings and everything like I had before. And our professor wants us to use the computers in the classroom which would normally be fine, but Italian computer keyboards are weird and set up a little differently than a typical US keyboard. I’ll get used to it! Italian is still pretty easy, just learning the basics of ordering food and directions and things now, and then we will get into more technical conjugations and things like that later on. My Palaces of Florence class hasn’t really done a ton yet, but we will have lecture on Thursday which I’m pretty excited about. I’m good at taking notes!
Lantern Festival: So this past Thursday, our host family took me and my roommates to this lantern festival honoring Maria. Apparently when she was born it was a huge deal, and farmers and people from the countryside came marching into Florence with lanterns and celebrated, and so now it’s this tradition. Francesca said that normally the streets are FULL and you can’t even really dance or move easily, but it was raining, and it was not very busy at all. We kinda got lucky, we had room to dance and enjoy the music! Typically, the kids also have these long skinny tubes (almost like blow darts), that they put little pieces of clay in, and they shoot them at the lanterns so they break and light on fire. It’s pretty funny, until you get pelted in the leg by a kid that wants to mess with you (ugh). I didn’t get really any pics of the lanterns, because there were only a few since it was raining.
I wanted to attach videos, but I would have to pay another gazillion euros to upgrade my WordPress account – which I will do at some point in time, just not today! The pictures above are of the stage and the band (the band is apparently very famous in Florence, and they were excellent!).
PISA: Last Friday, my roommates and I went to Pisa for a half day trip! It’s much smaller than you think it is — the whole city, and the tower, to be honest. It’s not a place to spend all day. The only thing to do is look at or climb the tower. We left around 8:30am from Florence, and the bus ride was about an hour & 15 mins, which isn’t terrible (the same length as a trip to Stout from Bloomington!). We arrived in Pisa, and were immediately told to watch out for the gypsies or Romas — they’re the best thieves/pickpockets in all of Italy, maybe even all of Europe. They steal, and they are very good at it. They blend in with all the tourists, wearing the headsets and radios matching the tour groups, they’re young women like 15-16 years old, and they’re very discreet. One woman lost $2,000 on a previous trip, from what our tour guide told us (not sure why on earth she had that much money on her though…).
So we held our purses and bags in front of us, with our hands over them just to be safe. I’m pretty sure everyone in our group still had all of their things when we left, which is great! We saw the baptistry, the church, and the tower. The baptistry you had to pay to get into I believe, and my roommates and I paid the basic fee to just see the tower. We did get to briefly tour inside the church though!
My roommates and I loved taking the nerdy “holding up the tower” pictures! It was really fun. Besides, if you didn’t take the nerdy pics, did you even go?? Click on the images to see my captions and specifics of each thing. I did take pictures of the inside of the church, but I can’t remember a lot of what the tour guide said so they’re kinda useless if I can’t explain anything!
Church & Missing home: I got to go and check out the church this Sunday, which was wonderful! Mosaico church was recommended to me by my friend Mallory from Stout, and it’s an international church (so services and music are in English)! I met some nice girls, and we went out to lunch afterwards. It’s nice to make new friends and know that we have a huge piece of our lives and faith in common – so my Jesus jokes get laughed at and they understand certain decisions I make (like not going out and clubbing, etc.). We exchanged numbers, so I’m hoping we can get together and do homework soon.
I have been missing home lately – I get to keep in contact with everyone easily, so I’m not super homesick for my family or friends quite yet, but I really do miss American food. I miss cheap ice cream from McDonald’s (a sundae is $3+ here, so basically a RIPOFF), and blizzards from DQ, and burgers that don’t have weird cheeses that make me feel puky, and our American version of french fries. It’s so stupid because I know I’m surrounded by totally amazing Italian food everywhere, but it’s little things from home that I think about and miss dearly.
I miss sleeping in my dark room and fan and having it be so quiet at home (even though we live right next to the freeway, it’s still quieter there than it is here in the historic center of Florence — right across from the hospital). I miss my family and friends that know me inside and out, so I don’t constantly have to explain any jokes or references or slang, I don’t have to explain my beliefs, and get to know anyone over and over. I miss my American phone plan!! The Italian phone plan is dumb here lol (but I don’t need it for too long). I miss things being in dollars and being cheaper (it seems cheaper in euros but no, it’s so misleading). I miss seeing trees and grass, and having parks that are close by. I miss having a central campus.
Being here really makes me appreciate being home in America. I think of Florence as home in a sense, but it’s not as familiar as where I’ve lived my entire life, obviously. I know it’s only week two and that there’s still a period of adjustment that I need to go through. I’m thankful to be in a host home, surrounded by a crazy family that reminds me of my own, and helping out with chores, like washing dishes and cleaning my room. I love the family dinners here too! The food is always amazing and we have good conversation.
Also, today I booked my flight home from CHI to MSP for $41 with Southwest Airlines. Pretty amazing, especially because I’m trying to save my money!!
Buona giornata, friends!