I’ve Always Been Crap at Introductions…

So have you ever done that thing where it’s your first encounter with someone… you’re meeting them for the first time, introductions are fast approaching, and you have a million things running through your mind – Do I look okay? Eh. Do I sound weird? Is that really what I sound like? Am I funny? Good joke Paige. Am I charming? Hah. What’s my name again? Paige. Do I smell okay? Don’t sniff yourself. Did I eat before I came here? Obviously. Is there something in my teeth?  God I hope not. Is my breath okay? Oh my goodness get it together. Who am I again? Ahhhhh. And by the time you actually remember your own name and spew it out you’ve already missed the name of the person you were supposed to be meeting? Womp. Awesome.

That is the story of my life.

So let’s go ahead and pretend I’m not crap at introductions and jump right to it. I’m Paige.

First of all, let me slap a disclaimer on this blog and make it clear that I claim to know absolutely nothing about Italy. I am clocking in at rookie status when it comes to the “world traveler” category, and prior to this trip I had never even flown solo before.  So here I am, a little Wisconsinite in a big Florentine world.

I like to think my work is cool… it’s cool, right?

Prior to arriving in Florence for my semester, I had a completely crazy, exhilarating, buzz worthy life in Wisconsin… Right. Joke. BUT I did have a pretty good set up going on back in the good ‘ole De Pere. Back in the frozen tundra, I am studying as an Art major with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Photography at St. Norbert College. I work for the Office of Admissions on campus as the Social Media Intern as well as a Student Ambassador and Tour Guide. So basically I inspire new kids to come to the greatest private college in Wisconsin… with great success, of course. (Modest… I know.) I attribute my success in my job, school, and life in general to my personalità solare! (For all you Italian novices out there, that means “Sunny Personality”) If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I am rarely in a bad mood. I take pride in my outgoing, easily excitable personality… it’s what makes me, me! Working in Admissions and being “in-the-know” about all of our programs at SNC was truly what enlightened me to what our study abroad program had to offer. I did a little research and BING. BANG. BOOM. Here I am in Florence.

The Duomo

So back to me knowing nothing…

This blog is going to be a complete dedication to all the strange, fun, and crazy experiences I am going to be exposed to in the next 4 months. So hop on board and come along for the adventure as I discover new places, spaces, and faces around Firenze! There’s going to be plenty of strange and incredibly awkward  stories, I’m sure. Already in my first couple of weeks here I’ve been quacked at on the street, got my hair pet in the club, and have gotten walked in on in a unisex bathroom. Awesome.

I made this how-to for you guys… and by “you guys” I mean myself.

On top of my awkward encounters, being here in Florence has also reverted me back into a toddler. I literally have no idea how to do ANYTHING. I got to my apartment the first day and refused to go to the bathroom after 15+ hours of traveling because I got into the bathroom and did not know how to flush the toilet to save my life. When my other roommates arrived and didn’t have their keys out, it took my 10 minutes to figure out how to open the door to our apartment… from the inside. I cooked a pizza last week for probably an hour because I am obviously incapable of reading the oven settings…. and don’t even get me started on lighting my gas stove! (See photo) I had to google the users manual PDF for our washing machine because looking at the knobs is like playing pictionary – and for an art major, I am god awful at pictionary. So many everyday things have turned into a struggle, and I have personally booked a 4-month ticket on the strugglebus.

But don’t get me wrong… everything hasn’t been a struggle. I’ve made a few discoveries in the last three weeks that have made our lives much easier. For example, I’ve discovered an absolutely wonderful electronics shop on Via dei Servi called Elettricita dei Fiorentini. The owner there will sell you hairdryers, straighteners, clippers, and many more electronic appliances for an inexpensive price… AND they’ll buy your appliances back at the end of the semester for portion of the original price! Score!

Besides little discoveries of shops around Florence that will save your life, (or in my case, save the appearance of my hair,) I have learned a TON from just observing people around town.

Tip 1: When it comes to shoes, use your brain. You know how hard it is to walk in heels on a flat surface?? Try cobblestones. Moral of the story… Flats: Molto Buone (very good!) Platforms/wedges: Buone (good)  Stilettos: Non Vanno Bene (not OK)

Tip 2: Scarves serve a dual purpose: Warmth first, fashion second.

Tip 3: Dress for the month, not for the weather. Being from Wisconsin, this concept blows my mind to bits. People here will wear winter coats all the way until March because it’s still considered winter… no matter what the temperature is. Does this stop me from not wearing a coat around town when the weather is nice?? Absolutely not. Stare away.

Tip 4: People walk anywhere – sidewalks, the middle of the street, on top of you, you name it. Cars also drive anywhere… and pedestrians do not have the right of way, so you best pay attention!

Those are my learnings for now – To Be Continued.

Anyway, if there’s one thing I’m worse at than introductions, its goodbyes so here goes it… Stay tuned for more outrageous encounters and helpful nuggets of information from me!

Ciao for now!

Paige