First Fun in Firenze

The day I have been counting down to since last fall has finally arrived – moving to Florence!  While it was absolutely incredible to have the chance to freely explore the cities of London and Rome, I had grown a bit tired of living out of a suitcase, and the constant motions of packing and unpacking as we traveled from place to place.  This past saturday, I boarded a bus from Rome to Florence, arriving in a little over three hours.  The program directors hailed a cab for my roommates and I, and we were immediately transported to the apartment we will be living in until May!

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After getting settled in with my five other roommates, we took the chance to explore a few cities of Florence in order to get to know our surroundings and prepare for our first day of classes the following Monday.  We were immediately enchanted by aromas of fresh dishes that wafted out of various trattorias all around our neighborhood, and have already generated a list of all the places we want to try over the course of the semester!

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When Monday morning rolled around, I got up early (if 8 am can be considered early) to head over to school for my only class of the day: Italian Food and Culture.  Our professor was quick to inform us that this class would consist of more than just taste testing pizza and pasta; we are going to cover Italian geography, agricultural practices, the contribution of food to Italian culture, and foods that are considered symbols of Italian identity.  Included in the course are field trips to Florentine food markets, a pasta factory, and a balsamic vinegar farm!  Stay tuned for a blog post later in the semester that will cover all of these trips…

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On Tuesday I attended the other three classes I am taking this semester: Dante in Translation, Mysticism and Magic in Medieval and Renaissance Italy, and Elementary Italian.  Dante in Translation is a class that will serve as fulfillment of a Literature requirement for me back at Pitt, and will explore the works of famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri.  Mysticism and Magic in Medieval and Renaissance Italy will fulfill my Philosophy requirement, and will cover topics such as the the connection between religion, philosophy, and science with magic and mysticism, along with comparing and contrasting the different ideas of various philosophers regarding models of the universe, nature, and love.  All students at Richmond University are required to enroll in an Italian language course, and having no previous experience in Italian, I chose to enroll in the beginner level class.

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Having attended each of my classes for the first time, I can definitely see how different this semester will be from my past five at the University of Pittsburgh.  Each class lasts 100 minutes, whereas my longest classes at Pitt were 75 minutes.  As a business student, I was typically working on a computer or completing in-class math exercises during every class session.  Here in Florence, classes are almost entirely lecture-based! We only have three grades for each class for the entire semester here – the midterm exam, the final exam, and a 2500-word research paper.  Back at Pitt, things such as small quizzes and homework factored into our course grades as well!  Although I can tell the structure is quite different and I am definitely going to have to adjust, I can already tell I am going to fall in love with this city and have such an amazing academic experience here.

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Ciao for now!

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