Sometimes I forget to acknowledge the fact that I’m spending four months studying in a brand new country thousands of miles away from home. I feel like my adjustment here was overall pretty seamless and smooth. Yes, there were minor bumps in the road, like figuring out a cell phone plan and learning how to correctly bag your produce at the grocery store, but all in all not bad adjusting. I haven’t had any moments of homesickness yet. I am truly just loving every second of my time abroad. Even when I get stressed or worked up about something, I try to take a step back and look at the big picture, that I am partaking in an experience most people only dream of having. My minor problems and struggles are really not that bad. I have learned to just go with the flow more and realize that everything that is meant to happen will happen. If I miss a train, I wasn’t meant to be on it. If a weekend trip doesn’t end up coming together, another awesome opportunity will probably come my way.
Studying in Florence has really made me appreciate some things back home in the States. First off, free water at restaurants and water at school. I can’t tell you how much I miss the unlimited water at restaurants and the water fountains at Pitt. If you want water with your dinner, you are going to have to pay extra, and after a while it adds up. Another thing that I won’t take for granted when I return home is the use of credit/debit cards and splitting checks at restaurants. In Italy, some restaurants will let you pay with a card, but those are few and far between. And don’t ever ask to split a check! It’s always a challenge after the meal trying to Venmo friends and seeing who owes who money. Dining in American is way easier, but the food in Italy is a million times better and I wouldn’t try my culinary experience here for anything.
I’m also growing more comfortable going on runs in Florence. The streets are very crowded and people seem to give you odd looks for exercising here. I’m learning new places to run that are less congested with people. I’m used to being in Pittsburgh where it is quite common to see people going on jogs. Here, I maybe see one person a day running, at most. Exercise isn’t as prominent over here, but I think it is because people just walk so much. I average around 10 miles a day here, just walking places. Florence is a very active city. I’m definitely going to miss this part of the lifestyle when I come home.
Adjusting to the eating schedule has actually been easier than I expected. Breakfast is usually a pastry and cappuccino, lunch is a quick panini on the go, but dinner is way later than I’m used to. Most restaurants don’t even begin serving dinner until 7 pm. I used to eat dinner around 5 or 6 PM, so my body has had to adjust. I’ve also noticed that I definitely snack less here. Food is more appreciated and savored. Italians, unlike the majority of Americans, emphasize quality over quantity.
Overall, I’m growing more comfortable in my city. There are so many differences compared to life at home, but I’ve learned to appreciate them and savor my time in a completely different culture. Never again am I going to be fully immersed in something completely foreign for such an extensive amount of time. I’m soaking up every single second in the glorious city of Florence.