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I'm a 21-year-old journalism student. I spent last semester living in Florence, Italy. These are my adventures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Greetings! From where getting lost is a welcomed way to spend an afternoon

It's been just over a week, but it feels like ages. I'm so happy it's going slowly, but as school started this week I could feel time accelerating.
The past few days were a combination of boring orientation and happily being lost. Once I get into a routine I plan to blog much more regularly.
For now, we will play a little bit of catch-up.

We started the day with cappuccino at Caffé Mario before orientation. Hearing some fellow students' mishap in a caffé, we stood at the bar instead of sitting at a table — a mistake that evidently earned them some dirty looks. The other rule they learned was cappuccino ordered after 11 a.m. is a surefire way to get some more strange glances. We thought we were set. However, we learned the third rule: if you get a pastry, you sit down at a table to eat. Standing at the bar will get you scolded.
We're getting there though. Slowly but surely.
Orientation was long and dull, as most tend to be, although Marcello Fantoni, director of Kent State in Florence, held my attention at the beginning. He talked a lot about how much much these four months can completely reshape us. I've heard it from everyone who went, but somehow sitting in that freezing cold hall looking outside at the sun on Tuscan rooftops made me realize how much I know I'll evolve. I can't wait.

The rest of the day was filled with I suppose useful, but mostly obvious, safety tips. I know it had to be done, but I was sad to watch the day slip by outside. After snacking at the reception, we took our first trip to the grocery store, Metá. We went home and snacked on our cheese and crackers before gearing up with cameras to walk the city at night.
I'm still in disbelief that I live here.

Exhausted from the walk, I fell asleep reading my Kindle. Perfect.

Today started the first day of a three-part orientation. Nicoletta Peluffo, my italian teacher, taught us basic Italian phrases before showing us the post office and English movie theater. Afterwards, Caitlin and I decided to go shopping and walked aimlessly through the city until we found ourselves at the train station. I haggled for the first time. I found a laptop bag listed for €20. Failing to remember the Italian words for 15 and 16, I offered €17. He took it immediately, leaving me a little disappointed I didn't go lower. But again, I'm learning.
We walked even further away from the Duomo before meandering back to the river. We were beyond the boarders of our study abroad map, but followed the river home and hauled ourselves up our eternal flights of stairs.

After a few more orientation meetings, we walked again. Even with Kate and Jess to add to our navigation team, we were lost. But I don't think I'll ever mind being lost here. As long as I'm with someone or it's daylight.
Unable to maneuver markets comfortably yet, I had more crackers and cheese before going out to Finnegan's Irish Pub for trivia in English. It was a blast! And our team even won a prize... for last place. Most of the group moved onto another bar, but not being a drinker, I opted to join Amy, Bethany and Caitlin in their hunt for food. We found an Indian restaurant somehow open at 1 a.m. Another day well spent.

Caitlin and I woke up five minutes after orientation started, but rushed around and made into our seats only 15 minutes late. We took another walk around the city led by Nicoletta and found out where a market is. There were a lot of interesting meats — intestines and brains galore. But I'm sure I can find some good veggies to make some meals when I get a chance.
After our tour, I grabbed lunch with a few people. It turns out the pizza shop behind our school is where the Jersey Shore cast worked when they filmed their forth season in Florence. I asked Nicoletta about what locals thought of the gang. I laughed as she said they were loud and rude. Of course.  But then she said unfortunately, that's what a lot of Italians think Americans are like. She even thought we all watch and love that show. It made me a little sick. I hate that they are the image some place on me and other Americans in this city. It's despicable.
So when someone suggested going there for lunch, I considered it (the pizza is supposed to be phenomenal), but ended up walking down the block to a small sandwich stand. I haven't walked by there without seeing a line of people waiting for their €2.50 sandwich. There's a reason. The Vegetarian Mix was amazing; it had artichokes, peppers, eggplant, olive oil and I don't know what else. I'll have to take a picture one of these times — I've already had it twice and tried another panino.
After another few hours of orientation, I relaxed at home and headed over to the big apartment for snacks and cards. Besides the sandwich, finding people to play cards with was probably my highlight of the day. I love cards and can usually find few people to play with other than my dear friend Aprille back in Michigan. Turns out the several packs of games I brought might be put to use!

I've decided to break this "catch-up" post into two. More later tonight!
For now, I'm off to class. Last week I almost forgot I was here for school. Let's be honest though, I'm here for Firenze.

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