For 1 week, I have resided in Florence, sharing an apartment with 5 other study abroad students, located in the San Frediano neighborhood – on the south side of the Arno River. I share a room with Mark, a junior from the University of Colorado at Boulder; Mark is best friends with 2 of our other roommates, who are also from the Centennial State’s largest public university. I also share the apartment with 2 Pitt Business students, Chris and Mike, who have been a pleasure to adventure around the city – of about 382,000 people, not including visitors – with. It seems all six of us share a sense of gratitude for being able to have this unique and lucky experience.
Last Friday, CAPA, our school here, kindly took care of the 10 minute cab ride over to our new residence. Some things I quickly noticed – because of our location – in these first few days: the Arno, which we cross at least twice a day, is dammed (to prevent an event similar to the infamous 1966 flood in “Firenze”); our side of the Arno is more local and tranquil; when walking over to center city, it is as if you are entering a Renaissance themed Disney Land, only it is the birthplace of the Renaissance (how cool!).
Because I visited my sister in Florence, back in 2016, it has been easier to get my bearings this time around. Still, even though I prepared myself for this new experience in the months before arriving, certain aspects are, naturally, foreign to me and will take some “getting used to.” For example, Florence’s sidewalks are seemingly, on average, 2.5 feet wide, so one must sometimes literally balance on the curb while passing pedestrians and vehicles. A particular challenge for me is to be aware of pick-pocketer’s, without being too worried about the matter, which would ruin my time out. In the week(s) to come, I hope to feel more confident and smart with securing my belongings (hopefully, I can abandon my somewhat retro fanny-pack and save it for my adventures out of Florence). Also, I must get better at mapping out safe running routes.
Overall, this first-week has been an exciting and enjoyable experience. I love the panini’s, museums (checked off the Bargello and the Medici Riccardi Palace, this week), architecture, and the people. As I sit outside in Rome, looking out over the bustling streets, I feel content knowing that I am on this journey with intelligent and interesting students, well-trained faculty, knowledgeable professors, and thoughtful and caring locals. Many challenges await – work load, budgeting, keeping-in-touch with friends and family in the U.S., etc. – but I am ready to apply the problem-solving, communicative, and academic skills that Pitt already supplied us with. Arrivederci! Chao! Best wishes!