Ciao from Florence, Italy! Yes, you read that right, I’m in Florence at the moment studying abroad for the January semester. It’s crazy right? I’ve wanted to study abroad for awhile and now it’s actually happening. I’m currently within the first of three week that I’ll be spending here in Italy and already I’ve experienced so much!
First let me start off by explaining a little bit more about my program as a whole before I get into all of the amazing things I’ve done so far.
I’m in Italy through a program you may remember me mentioning in that past called CIS Abroad. If you’re considering studying abroad through a third party program rather than a program hosted by your school I highly suggest looking into them, they’re really great about working with you through each step and any questions you may have and then have tons of options.
While I’m here I’m taking one 3-credit course called Food and Culture in Italy at the Florence University of the Arts (FUA). My class involves learning about the culture of as well as how to make many classic Italian dishes and also how to appreciate wine like an Italian rather than as an American. So difficult right? But seriously though, as you may or may not have seen from my other blog I love to bak and cook and to have the chance to learn how to make some wonderful Italian dishes is something that I’m thoroughly enjoying during my time here. During my time here I’ve also had an opportunity to make some great friendships. Below are some photos of me with the wonderful ladies I’ve been spending the majority of my time with. The photo on the left is the group of us who share an apartment together and we’re a mix of Americans and Aussies and the photo on the right is a group of us who all ended up flying together from the states even though only three of the group actually knew each other before leaving.
On to all of the wonderful things that I’ve done during my time here so far and believe me there’s already been plenty!
The first day was definitely the toughest of them all because I left the States on a Friday night and arrived in Italy via Germany early on Saturday morning so I hit the ground running on about 2 hours of plane sleep. That being said though, it was still a great day what with exploring the city and getting to know my awesome roommates. The apartment we’re staying we’ve found to be lacking but we’ve all agreed that even so we wouldn’t give it up if it meant having different roommates.
The second day was the first day where I really took the time to explore the city with my friends and start to compile a list of museums and sites that we wanted to explore more during our time here. The day started off with our orientations and a walking tour of the city as well as the campus (which is spread around the city). Plus, we had the chance to go to a welcome dinner for our whole CIS group (by whole I mean all 13 of us) which was a great chance to get to know even more amazing people while I’m here as well as learn more about the Italian culture from our CIS Supervisor here, Alessandro.
That Monday was our first day of classes which was definitely an experience in itself. Even though there was a basic class description for me to look at when choosing which class to sign up for I hadn’t had a chance to get my syllabus until the morning of so I didn’t have much of an idea as to what I should expect to be doing in class. Monday might have been the most tiring day I’d had so far other than the Saturday I arrived. I also toured the Museo Galileo which had a lot of the scientific instruments used in old Florence. My class is an afternoon class and I spent my time before class hiking all around the city exploring and then hiking up this GIANT hill to the Piazza Michelangelo so that I could have this amazing view of the whole city. Even though it was quite the hike it was totally worth it.
Oddly enough, even though classes had just started the day before Tuesday was the Epiphany which is a holiday here in Italy that sort of ends the Christmas season. As a result we had the day off from classes and ended up taking a short day trip to Pisa to see the leaning tower. It was a ton of fun and an easy trip to take up about half of our day. We did find however that it’s a lot harder than it looks to pose just right for the classic shots of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That night we had a chance to hang around with our whole CIS Abroad group and Alessandro when we went to Fiesole for a picnic dinner with a view. We hiked up two different hills (and I mean hiked) but the result was a view of the whole city of Florence lit up at night. Definitely worth the climb!
Wednesday was a bit less crazy as I toured the Santa Maria Novella Church and just enjoyed walking around and taking in the city at a slightly slower place. I also stumbled into another church and managed to witness a wedding (it seemed to be opened to the public). Wednesdays are wine days for class and since this was the first Wednesday we learned all about how to look, smell and taste wine to really learn about it and enjoy it.
Thursday I took the time to have a longer and casual lunch with some of my fellow classmates/CIS Abroad members. Class was loads of fun though! We made tiramisu three ways and also made amor polenta. So much yumminess but it was super filling! That night we took the time to go out as a whole group once again (minus one who was sick) and enjoy dinner together and really do some great group bonding.
Friday, the day I left to start this whole journey a week ago was spent going out to enjoy some delicious pizza around the corner. Class had a different take on it for the day as we travelled around the city sampling the different food shops…I even ate cow stomach! The night was finished off having dinner at Ganzo, the school restaurant with my two awesome Aussie roommates.
Tomorrow it’s on to Lucca!