Uncovering the Truths of Florence

My experience at CAPA has been vastly different from my experience at the University of Pittsburgh. For starters, there is no AC, so it can get very hot in the classrooms, which can be draining. However, the professors are still very engaging, and the material has been very interesting. My cross-cultural psychology class has taught me a lot about the values and generalizations of Italians, and it has been very helpful in understanding the culture of Italy and other countries, and how they compare to American culture. My urban studies class that focuses on exploring the city of Florence has taught me a lot about the city’s history, especially when we walk around the city while our professor explains its past. It has also taught me about the Grand Tour narrative that has created a misrepresentation of many of the “Italian” staples. For instance, many think of pasta and pizza when thinking of Italian dishes, but the country of Italy is made up of many different subcultures that vary between areas. Florence is not different, and the Florentine dishes do not consist of pasta and pizza, but rather it includes cod, Florentine steak, rabbit, chestnuts, along with many other dishes that many do not get to experience because they do not realize what is truly an authentic Florentine dish. The Renaissance is a big part of the culture of Florence, but many people also limit their image of Florence’s culture to that, but it is much greater than that. There’s history relating to World War II and how the people of Italy saved the Ponte Vecchio from being destroyed. Florence is where the U.S. began its influence in Italy, as the first U.S. consulate and embassy was established there. It was at one point the capital of Italy. Every year they hold the Calcio Storico, which was established to show the Roman Emperor at the time of the game’s creation how strong the people of Florence were and how hard it would be to take their city. These also are a part of the culture and Identity of Florence but much of it gets lost in the misrepresentation of Florence’s history that we have come to know. Status is also a big part of Italian culture, which is why so many people often dress nicer than in America, and it also holds the Italian people more accountable, as their image is very important to them, which is something I can respect about their culture. There are also similarities between Pittsburgh and CAPA, as my experience with the faculty at both institutions has been extremely helpful, and they are always willing to answer any questions or provide advice. The pace of my classes is much faster than usual, but that was expected because my courses are taking place in a much shorter time frame. I live in a neighborhood that is a 25 minute walk from the CAPA center, which has created a challenge of having to walk far to class everyday, and I do not have time to walk back to my apartment between classes, as I only have an hour and a half between, so it is not worth it. However, that has also been a blessing because it has forced me to explore the city more to fill that time. I appreciate that I am in a neighborhood with many Italians living there,as my experience has felt more authentic that way. The restaurants that surround me are more authentic and less targeted at tourists than ones in the city center. The shops, grocery stores, and restaurants near me are much cheaper than ones near the city center, which has been very helpful. There is also a nearby park where I have been able to play basketball and meet many local Italians my age. The apartment that I live in has 4 other roommates, and we all have been able to get along well, and I have created some good friendships with them. They have been the ones that I have done most of my exploring of the city with. There have not been that many challenges with my living arrangement, besides minor inconveniences like a gas stove that takes a while to heat up, not having AC, or not having a drying machine, but I have been able to adapt to these challenges, and I feel that I have settled in quite well. I have created a friendship with the nearby convenience store owner. I feel adjusted to the time change. I consider myself easygoing, so I have found it easy to adjust to my new surroundings, and I haven’t allowed any obstacles or challenges to affect my experience. I have attached some photos of some of my favorite sites around Italy!

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