Since arriving in Florence and getting acclimated to Florentine life, as well as life at my new university, things have been very busy. Florence culture is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Being the birth place of the renaissance makes Florence a cultural hub entirely unique from other places. The art, history, people, and atmosphere make Florence an incredible place to be staying for six weeks. I am lucky enough to have an apartment in Piazza di San Giovanni, an apartment that has the famous Duomo right outside its windows. Focusing on my university, I am taking two classes at CAPA, one being an Urban Studies class, and the other being about Interculture and Migration. Both focus closely on Florence as well as Italy as a whole. The classes are two to two and half hours, three days per week, in a beautiful palace with incredible original art work. The staff at CAPA, including a professor who taught at Pitt, are all amazing and very helpful.
The biggest difference for me with these classes as opposed to at Pitt are the lengths. Two and a half hours can be quite long, but not having classes on Fridays certainly makes up for it. Also slightly different exam styles. Overall assignments are similar to what I complete at Pitt and teaching styles are similar as well. My neighborhood is unbelievable. Seeing the sun rising and setting on the Duomo is truly an amazing sight. Living in such a popular piazza there is constantly live music flowing through our open windows and performers just a few stories down for us to watch. Highly rated restaurants are all within a five to ten minute walk and offer delicious Italian cuisine. My apartment is shared with five other girls and has three bedrooms, each with two single beds. We have a combination living and dining area with a small kitchen we cook group meals in once or twice a week typically. My roommates and I all get along really well and we love doing every day activities as well as taking trips together. They all go to Pitt so we had something in common to talk about when we first met which was nice. For breakfast I usually walk across the street to one of the oldest cafes in Florence for a cappuccino and croissant.
While this has been a very positive experience there have been a few challenges. Simple things like not knowing we have to weigh and label our produce before checking out at the grocery store, to communication issues of knowing when to use different greetings like “ciao” and “buongiorno”. We have been navigating the best places to get local fruits and vegetables, coffee, and other necessities like soap. Getting used to Italian washing machines and the lack of drying racks has been an obstacle as well. Going out every day and facing these issues together with my roommates has made things easier. Throwing yourself into these situations and allowing yourself to ask for help is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give. Getting yourself into somewhat uncomfortable situations can be one of the best ways to learn.