Just kidding…sorry to disappoint if you thought you were getting some raunchy details of life in Florence, this is just my intro article (more to come though…). But anyways, Ciao! Hey! Hi! I think you get the picture…I’m pretty fricken excited to be in Florence!

This is Andrea. She’s pretty cool.

So I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to write a bio about myself. If you want me to be totally honest, I hate writing about myself, despite being a writer my whole life. How do I box myself in to just a few words strung together?! It’s like picking what to eat off an Italian menu; you can’t really go wrong, but it’s so hard to decide.

Real fast, I have another confession: to help me write this I took a personality test I found off Google. You know, to tell me what’s important about myself. After clicking a bunch of circles it said I was an “ENFP” personality type. Okay…yeah…helpful. No, but actually, it’s pretty cool.

The first thing the test told me about myself: “ENFP personalities are usually characterized by high levels of enthusiasm, especially when it comes to things that spark their imagination.” Yeah…that’s pretty true. If you couldn’t tell by love for exclamation points, I’m like an overflowing glass of prosecco, bubbly and guaranteed to make your day a little more fun.

On to my next descriptor: “ENFPs are also likely to have difficulties dealing with routine, administrative matters. They are more interested in freedom and inspiration than security and stability.” Hmm…I guess that could explain why I chose an internship across the world, which lets me roam around a city with a camera in hand, and a computer at my side. And they let me drink wine. Always a plus when searching for a job.

“Plus their charm and social skills, often makes them very popular and influential.” Oh…well personality test…you’re just making me blush now…

But anyways, I guess I’ll get down to business now. My name is Andrea Jankelow, and I am a chocolate addict. That was a joke…kind of…because I really do love chocolate. Enough that I drove 40 minutes to a Russell Stover outlet the day after Valentine’s day to cash in on the sales. But chocolate in the States isn’t even comparable to the chocolate over here. YUM! Anyhoo, I digress. I’m from the great state of Illinois, born and raised in Chicago. A few years ago I moved a little south down to the not-quite-as-great state of Missouri, to go to an incredible school known as the University of Missouri (Go Tigers!).

Showing my Mizzou Pride

I guess you can call me a nerd because I chose to double major in Strategic Communications Journalism, with an emphasis in graphic design and copywriting, and Psychology. I also like to watch documentaries for fun, so yeah…I’m definitely a nerd. When I’m at school, I have another pretty fricken cool job. I work as a graphic designer and box office intern at a music venue in town. And I get to go to concerts for free. Yup. You read that right. For free. I’ve even met some of the bands before! I also have my own comedy talk show at our local radio station.

Just being sassy on the airwaves

FUN FACT: I’ve been doing radio for 7 years now, which means that someone somewhere thinks I’m mildly interesting. (Hopefully, you will too and you’ll come back to read the next thing I write!)

And now on to travel: I’ve kind of always been a global citizen. My parents are FOBs (fresh off the boat) from South Africa and they have always encouraged adventuring across the world. My first flight was at two weeks old. My first trip out of North America was when I was just a year and a half old. Before this summer, I had checked Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Africa, and Israel off my bucket list. Yet, I had never been to Europe. And more importantly, I had never been to Italy, the land of wine, carbs, and leather. AKA Paradise. You would think a life trained to jet set, I wouldn’t have been nervous at all to come here. WRONG. This was my first time traveling completely alone. To give you an idea, my hands were physically shaking as I left my parents at the security gate. I’m pretty sure someone asked me if I was feeling okay. Yup. I was that girl.

Globe trotting on the back of a camel

But once I landed here, something changed. Florence is unlike any city I’ve been to. It is big enough that there is so much to do and see and explore. I swear you could live here your whole life and still never taste half the restaurants. Yet, it is small enough that you can walk everywhere (hint: very helpful for nights out at the bars). While the streets make no sense and still confuse the shitake mushroom out of me, I find that the city is so friendly that I don’t mind going out alone for a run and spending two hours wandering home. Yet…there is some definite culture shock you have to get used to when traveling. Here are a few of my personal favorites.

Everyone smokes: Forget the days of “no smoking” signs and “smoking is bad for you”. Everywhere there are ashtrays and everyone has a light. I mean with all this pasta and gelato, it’s not like cancer will hurt.

Italian men are far from shy: In fact, they are the opposite. And if you give them your number, they will call you. Maybe even 60 times in one day if you’re lucky like my roommate. And they will confess their love pretty fast. Like two days within meeting fast. However, like the stereotypes, they are pretty cute …in an I-wear-tighter-pants-than-you way.

No one works out: It is the biggest anomaly I have ever seen. Eat carbs all day and avoid the gym at night. Yet, everyone is thin as my pinky finger on a diet. Italians are magical.

People in Italy are immune to heat: They really are magicians. It can be 96 degrees out and scorching hot and you will walk down the street and see women with dark jeans on and a leather jacket. How? I do not know and I don’t intend to find out. When in Florence…I won’t do as the Florentines do if that means fainting of heat stroke and peeling my sweat soaked jeans off at the end of the day. Yuck.

You have to pay for water: this is the one that shocked me the most. And that you get charged to sit down at a restaurant to eat. One restaurant even charged us 6 euros for water. Reread that again. 6 euros for water. Ridiculous. My tip: carry a water bottle in your bag with you. It’ll save you money that can easily be spent at the MANY incredible stores surrounding Florence. Which leads me to my next point…

The clothes are to die for: And the purses. And the shoes. And the leather. Especially the leather. If you came here expecting not to shop, try again. Or don’t come.

But you should come, because Florence is an incredible city filled with history and culture and a lot of delicious food. And I for one, cannot wait to explore this magical place. As far as closing this off…if you feel like you know me, great come hang out with me again! If not…guess that means you need to read another article so we can be pals!

Ciao for now!
Andrea