Now that I’m settled in and adjusted to a new country, I have time to catch up! I won’t lie, the trip here was exhausting. For someone who hasn’t been on a plane in ten years, a seventeen hour trip consisting of three planes was pretty scary. I departed from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I had to say a very difficult goodbye to my mom for four months. From Harrisburg, I flew to Chicago, Illinois, where I had some time to settle my nerves and try some deep dish pizza (which I now know doesn’t even compare to pizza in Italy). I then endured an eight hour flight to Germany, and then finally to Italy!
The culture shock is REAL. Living here feels like I switched worlds, not countries. Even grocery shopping is such a difficult task with the language barrier, but thankfully most people understand English! I try to use my Italian to get as much practice as possible, but I notice that in most areas everyone will just respond in English, regardless of my Italian attempts. I have also come to realize that Florentines are not as friendly as what I’m used to in Pittsburgh, especially to those who are very clearly tourists. However, with the bad comes a lot of good. Even the simplest things here are so beautiful, which makes it difficult to walk anywhere without taking pictures and standing out as a tourist! Don’t even get me started on the food – I could step into any restaurant in Florence and eat the best meal of my life. This is a culture very much associated with food, so everything is very fresh here and eating out is more of an experience than just a meal. The only fast food I have seen is at the train station, because Italians really take their time with meals. It’s safe to say I will have to diet when I come back to the states to make up for how much I have been enjoying Italian food.
This semester I am enrolled in international finance, Florence and the Florentine in Dante and Boccaccio, Italian 3, and Italian cinema. Reading Italian literature that has shaped Florence into the city it is today has been an incredible experience and has helped me understand more about the roots of the city I will be calling home for the next few months. Along with my literature class, my Italian language class has been a saving grace. I am actually the only student in this class, since most students are taking the introductory level here. Having five hours a week to practice my Italian one on one with my professor has already improved my understanding of the language significantly, and I am super excited to see how far I’ve come at the end of this experience. I am so glad I made the decision to study abroad, and I am already dreading leaving this place that already feels like home.