I am a few weeks into my study abroad experience in Florence, Italy and it is already amazing. I am living in an apartment about twenty minutes from the school, and it has been great so far. I have two roommates who are also Pitt students. One of the things that helped make us comfortable when we first arrived were our landlords! Our landlords are an older couple and when we first arrived, they came to our apartment and kept giving us hugs. There was a bit of a language barrier, but they were very happy to have us there. One week later, they dropped off chocolate for us!
There are some major differences between this apartment and the one I have in Pittsburgh. To start, it is kept at a constant pre-set temperature to save gas so when we get cold, we have to bundle up inside. Additionally, there is not a drying machine so after doing my laundry, I must hang my clothes on a clothesline outside which is new for me! I am glad to be getting an authentic experience and challenging myself in these small ways.
Luckily, our apartment is in a pretty great location. It only takes me about one minute to walk to a major grocery store called Coop, so I have been able to do a lot of cooking at home. We live in more of a residential area, and there is a local café next door where I have been trying to get to know the baristas. I can walk to class which is convenient, but it did take some getting used to having to leave thirty minutes or so before class. I am adjusted now and am grateful for all of the walking to help stay active. For students who like to do more than just walk, there is also a convenient gym called Swan Gymnastic Center near the school that many study abroad students like myself have joined. They offer workout classes and the owner is very nice and talkative!
As I continue living in Florence, I hope to continue interacting with the locals and working on my Italian. I can tell that it is much appreciated when I try to communicate in Italian with the people who live and work here. I signed up for an opportunity called The Ganzo Project to help me with these goals. Starting this week, I will be going to an Italian family’s home once a week for dinner and activities! I am nervous about communicating and getting to know them, but am excited to spend time with a family away from home and work on the language.