It’s been 3 weeks yo! It feels like I’ve lived here for longer than that, as I have a handle mostly of the city and can get myself around to wherever I need to go. It’s starting to get in the thick of it in terms of classes and homework, in a month we are at midterms! So this past week, my host family and roommates & I ate dinner with a couple from New Zealand, I attended the EUROPEAN WORLD FINALS for the Gelato Festival (!!!!), I spent a good chunk of last weekend alone (which was actually wonderful), I participated in my first march across the city, I found out my loans didn’t pull through the way I had hoped, meaning I am scraping by financially for the semester (but hey, it’s probably a good thing), I procrastinated really badly on an assignment (I regret that a lot, as usual), and last night I attended a movie screening with my host mom and her kids at their school (through the Italian version of the PTA). It’s been busy, like it has almost the whole time! I have a feeling busy will be a theme for the semester.
Let’s begin with my typical week recap:
NEW ZEALAND COUPLE: So something my host mom Francesca does every so often is teaches a private cooking class to people. There is a website used throughout Europe (but mostly in Italy), where people can post their profiles as someone who wants to teach people how to cook, and people looking to learn can find them and book a lesson (kind of like an Airbnb, since they teach you at their home, but for cooking and not sleeping). So Francesca had a couple from New Zealand book a cooking lesson with her for last Thursday! She has two menus listed online, and they chose one that had stuffed anchovies, chickpea soup, octopus & potato salad, and olives. I’ve never tried anchovies before, but they were totally amazing and we ate so many! I do not like the texture of chickpeas, they’re too grainy for me, but the soup had great flavor. The octopus was interesting. It was real octopus, and I have never had it before, and I was expecting a softer texture like fish (the only seafood I’ve had), and it was very chewy and I didn’t really like it. But I tried it and I’m glad I did!
The couple from New Zealand actually WON their tickets from a competition with Singapore Air. They entered and figured the chances of winning are pretty good, because people from NZ generally don’t enter competitions like that, and sure enough, they won! So they flew as far as the airline would take them, and spent the week before in Greece, and a week here in Florence. I’m not sure where they’re going after Florence but I’m sure they told us. They were very kind and had kids our ages, so it was easy to talk to them. I love the accent too, haha!
GELATO FESTIVAL: This was the coolest thing ever. The Gelato Festival is once a year, a festival that travels across Europe to different cities, and people from all over attend and get to try over 20 different kinds of gelato for one flat rate for your ticket. My roommate bought our tickets online, and we saved a few euros doing that which is awesome. I think it was 8 euro for each of us to get our tickets.
The festival was located at the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is a piazza on top of this tall hill (SO MANY STAIRS TO GET UP TO THE TOP WOW – wear good walking shoes if you decide to make the trek up there haha) with an amazing view of Florence. I have a montage of pictures I took from the evening. My roommates and I each tried about 9-10 flavors of gelato, and if we didn’t go before dinner, we probably would have had more (but we wanted to save room for food because Francesca is an amazing cook!). My favorite flavor was by far, the Lemon Curd made by a gentleman from Verona, Italy, and who owns his gelato shop in Poland. It was the creamiest lemon flavored gelato/ice cream I have ever had – it was unreal and I basically almost died on the spot and I was so sad because you only get to try each flavor once and I would have just bought like 3 pints and went home. After I tried that one, none of the other flavors compared to the lemon curd.
Here are the finalists from the European tour of the festival (these were flavors voted on in each city), you might have to translate it through your web browser.
Click on each photo in my collage to view captions and details 🙂
We clearly had a lot of fun. I tried a bunch more flavors before these ones and forgot to take pictures of them!! Some other flavors I sampled: a plum lemon gelato (super tart, not in the way I usually like tart), La Dolce Vita (the 2016 grand champion!) which was a vanilla gelato with some kind of chocolate and caramel swirl, it was awesome. I tried another lemon kind that had nut flavoring in it, and I am still biased towards the lemon curd. I think that’s all.
WEEKEND: Friday I hung out at home, mostly by myself and it was wonderful. My roommate and housemate are great, but it was nice to have a break while they were on trips. I am an ambivert (introvert and extrovert in one), and I desperately need time alone after days with a lot of people or activity, or a lot of time with one person. I sat and watched Modern Family on Netflix on Friday (because no Friday classes here hehehe), didn’t do any homework, and just loved it.
Saturday I met up with my friend Michaela from church here and we walked around the city, tried Gusta Pizza, a Guy Fieri Florence favorite, and that was awesome and cheap! We went to Arnold Coffee (for the “American Coffee Experience” ugh), and I got an iced cinnamon latte, which is my new favoritest thing ever. It is spectacular and nothing I get in America will compare. We also checked out each other’s apartments, and just spent time getting to know each other and it was really nice to spend time with someone that I don’t see all the time, and share a faith with, which is a big encouragement to me. That night I walked in the women’s march across Florence, and I will link my other blog post I dedicated to that event here.
Sunday I went back to church, and then went home and relaxed and did some minor homework, I took a walk by around the city after getting my favorite cinnamon latte. Overall a really great weekend!
CLASSES & STRESS: So this week I found out that I did not get nearly as much loan money as I anticipated. All in all, God is really good and he provided for me still, but it was a shock. When I initially pulled out my loans, I for whatever reason assumed I was getting my work study financial aid — which I cannot get unless I have an on-campus job. So that obviously didn’t work out since I’m not home to get said job. So I thought I was getting at least $600+ in tuition refunds to use for spending money here on my trip — which I got none of and ended up owing Stout $60, so that sucked. I cried about it and called my mom and I’m fine now. I won’t be able to travel until my parents & Dallas come to see me during my fall break, and honestly that’s probably for the best so I actually do my homework.
I procrastinated super hardcore on my first interior design presentation, and waited to do it until the night before, but it turned out pretty good. I was disappointed because I received a lot more criticism than the other two girls in my class, but I’m trying to remember that the purpose of critique is to help me get better, not be discouraging. I need to use their words and look for places to improve in my work and improve the continuity of my project.
LAST NIGHT: I attended a little screening for the movie Captain Fantastic, starring Viggo Mortenson, and it was completely in Italian and there were no English subtitles available. My roommates and I were still able to pick up on what they were saying and what was happening, from the Italian we have learned. I tried to read the actor’s lips to see what they were saying in English, but it’s really hard to do when the sounds you hear don’t match what the actor’s are actually saying. It’s definitely not a kid’s movie (rated R in America), but there were kids present – including my 6 year old host brother. However, in moments that American parents would freak out in (nudity, talking about sex, suicide and the scene of killing an animal), the Italian parents seemed to just take it in stride, and no child seemed upset. The kids didn’t even laugh or anything during the scene I saw with some more graphic nudity (which I was not expecting at all). I just thought it was interesting that things here in Italy that make us Americans blush, do not translate in the same way for Italians. They seem to appreciate film for what it is (an art) and not for what you see in it literally. They tend to look at the story and the themes as a whole, instead of one scene that made them uncomfortable and so they’ll never watch it again. It seems to me that Americans are close-minded in this way. Films and movies have a way of teaching us new things about literally everything – culture, music, disabilities, food, etc., and Americans would rather be ignorant and happy than uncomfortable and have their values tested (which yields no growth as a person and doesn’t test your faith at all). That’s my 7 cents on that subject.
Overall, I’m still working on the whole patience thing. I’m still struggling to let go of my “let’s hustle” attitude, constantly rushing everywhere. I need to get more into the Italian mindset, where you give yourself enough time to do things and can still remain relaxed.
I also have been learning that I need to let go. I am still trying to control as much as possible, when I knew coming into this trip that part of the reason for coming was to get me OUT of that place. I need to surrender my stress to the Lord and let him take care of it. His plan is SO much better than mine, and for whatever reason I can’t freaking let go of control, even though I know logically that it’s the best choice. For my family and friends that pray, I ask that you would be praying for me in this way, and helping me to surrender my intense need to control what happens around me. I need only worry about what I can control (my stress levels – aka doing my homework, keeping my room clean, attending class, helping Francesca out around the house, etc.), instead of what I can’t (what happens at home in the US – with Austen, my friends, if the pets at my house are alive, etc.). I tend to underestimate the power of prayer even though I know that God does amazing things through it.
Here are some random pics I took this week also:
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this blog today. I will write another update next week! Buona giornata!