Coming to Florence has been the craziest experience of my 21 years. I shocked everyone when I told them. Going abroad appealed to me because I wanted to stick out of the crowd. I wanted to experience something most people don’t and have something to be proud of. I was getting too comfortable with routine and just getting through school. I realized I could do bigger things, and that I would be foolish not to take advantage of such an opportunity. Plus, it’s my senior year: the time to have fun before life starts! So I decided to go abroad with SAI programs.
The thought of coming here made me very anxious. I would be traveling to another country and living there for four months. Before Florence, I had never left the east-coast of the States. I thought about how I didn’t know any Italian. How would I even be able to make it to my new home from the airport? Since I hadn’t prepared beforehand, I downloaded apps on my phone at the airport to learn a few words. However, I soon realized that most people here speak great English and are used to foreign tourists and students. I’m now taking an Italian class which has been helping me learn a little bit, but I would still consider myself as not speaking the language.
The city of Florence is amazing and so much fun. I purposely walk around the streets to get lost and try and find my way back to my apartment, using the Duomo and the Arno river as my checkpoints. There’s so much I can learn here, and the architecture is amazing. Always traveling on foot doesn’t even bother me because there are always people to watch or art to look at. My favorite part of Florence so far is the Duomo. I pass by it almost everyday, and all of its details still amaze me. The city’s narrow streets suddenly open onto the piazza with the cathedral standing tall, and it’s so beautiful.
One of the biggest things I’ve started doing here is cooking. Back in the U.S., if there was no leftover food in the fridge or the cafe was closed, I would just not eat. I never even went grocery shopping. But here, I’m starting to invent recipes and throw food together. I’m doing way better then I expected. I’ve realized that cooking is not so hard, and I feel dumb for all the years that I would just starve rather than try to make something. Pasta is cheap and fast. So when in doubt, boil some salted water and throw it in; the cooking time is on the front of the package, and there are tons of ready-made sauces to choose from at the supermarket. Sometimes, I make burgers when I start to miss American food. And I’ve noticed that I’ve been eating a lot of omelets because they’re really simple to prepare. I haven’t built up a big variety yet, but at least I’m not starving.
Going out at night has been really fun, and I get to meet a lot of interesting people. I spend half the time just trying to learn new Italian phrases (that I usually forget). I’ve also met a group of club promoters, which has made my nights so exciting. If you want to get in with them, they’re usually always hanging out in Piazza della Repubblica around 5 or 6 p.m., handing out flyers for the clubs to go to that night. They usually let me cut the line and get in for free. One time, they even gave me cards for free drinks. They’re like the celebrities of Florentine night life, and I’m glad I’m actually friends with them. One of my favorite clubs to go to so far is Full Up. It has two different dance areas and is highly promoted around town, so there’s always a lot of foreign students.
Besides Florence, I’ve traveled to other places in Italy, and it’s been such a crazy experience. I’ve been to the Almafi coast, Cinque Terre, and I have many more trips already planned. I feel like, while I’m out here, I might as well do everything I can. I went on both trips with student travel agency, Bus2Alps. The most fun I had was at the Almafi Coast because it was an entire weekend trip (even though the Cinque Terre day trip had better rock jumping). I would recommend both places. But since they’re kind of similar, go to whichever one your budget and calender allow before the weather starts to get cold!