I’m leaving in 9 days for Florence! Right now I’m enjoying a week of craft time (which is what happens when RAs have to stay at school til graduation) before I pack up, go home for less than 72 hours and then take off for my first Eurotrip. Doesn’t seem quite real yet, but can’t express how excited and blessed I feel right now. My dad sent me an email the other day confirming the tuition payment and I just about fell over. BUT! I am expecting this to be a once in a lifetime experience. Taking 3 art classes for my major and italian (by requirement). For the first 5 weeks that’s Italian class - italian 101 - for 3 hrs MWF and Drawing8 HOURSTTh. That’s a lot of drawing. A lot. But I’m super excited to be in a more fine arts based program, no less in Florence.
I will be living in an apartment with other roommates who I don’t find out who they are until I arrive nor do I know my address, but it will be in downtown Florence, which should be beautiful. We have to clothesline dry our clothes, which, I think will be very quaint, picturesque, for about 1 day until I miss my dryers here back in the US. In addition to all the art, I. CANNOT. WAIT. TO. EAT. Shopping at outdoor markets, buying fresh food everyday…fresh pasta, vegetables, real italian olive oil, fresh bread…..I can’t wait to cook in my little italian apartment. SO, if you have any lovely recipes you think I should try, please send them my way - I will be feeding myself for the most part so I don’t go broke within the first few weeks trying to eat my way through Italy.
AND YAY! My bff ADRIENNE is coming to visit for my 21st birthday weekend! Which is a couple weeks into my program. She’s been in Paris all semester speaking French and I can’t wait to see her and hope she can still communicate in English! ;)
I will be posting lots of pictures etc. as I just bought a new camera with about 25% of next years paycheck…..yeah.
ONLY 9 DAYS! AHHH! Going to miss mi familia and my ehaus family that I am spending lots of time with this week (dawwww)
timestamp: 12:24 a.m.
I’m attempting to stay up a little later than normal even though I must get up early to catch my flight so I can both avoid terrible jetlag tomorrow and have time to upload my lovely MIPSO TRIO CD that my biffles got me onto my iPod (yes, I still use a regular iPod). I’ve been packing, and cleaning, and getting yelled at by my stressed out mother (For good reason, mom! love you) and calling places, and getting my license renewed etc. etc. up until about 6 hours ago. I’ll probably work on crocheting a market bag that my good friend taught me how to make (because we are 60 yrs old..) and check facebook for 2 seconds because there’s never really that much interesting stuff on there.
I went to my sister’s last high school band concert tonight which I’m really glad I could make before I left! It was actually pretty impressive, and she had a beautiful solo :) Also, good luck to both my seesters on their AP Stats exam tomorrow! You got this!
Anyways, everything seems to be in order…hopefully I didn’t forget anything important…like a textbook which I just picked up last minute.
I’m so excited to be going on this trip, the food, the scenery, the classes of course, and seeing friends from UNC I haven’t seen in a semester or year! (you know who you are). I am so blessed to have the opportunity to go on this trip and I’m going to make the most of it. I’ll try to update as much as possible here so you all can get a feel for what Florence is like, and my art program, and just my everyday activities. I’m also going to try to keep up with posting a picture a day…but I’m sure facebook will be flooded with pics….although, I’ve heard uploading things on italian/european wi-fi can be a little slow in apartments…so we’ll see how that goes. I can upload pictures while I wait for my clothes to dry on the clothesline -__-
Until next time (when I will be in FLORENCE!!!!)
I walk out the front doors of my apartment building and this is what I see <3
So I finally have a chance to sit down for a bit without falling asleep and tell you about my first day and a half/my plane trip here.
When we were landing in Frankfurt the pilot announced that the current temperature was 1 celsius…which I was aware was just above freezing. Literally. I thought he was trying to be humorous, it being mid-May and all, but he wasn’t. The warmest thing I had was my North Carolina sweatshirt and I was wearing shorts and flip flops. As soon as I stepped off the plane I could see my breath. Then we had to take a bus from the plane to the next terminal. There were a lot of buses involved in airports in Europe (frankfurt and florence at least). I got to the gate and met some of the students who I ended up being in my apartment with! (Although I didn’t find that out til later). My apartment is pretty big, we have a living room/dining area, 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a kitchen. One of the bedroom’s has a little balcony off of it which gets great sun. I ended up getting my own room since we had extra beds/rooms. All of us are here for the whole summer. There are a few downfalls to our apartment - it took us 3 hours to get the internet because the 24 character password we mistook an O for an 0. see? Also, our TV has only one show as of now - static. So we’ll see if that gets fixed eventually. Yesterday, after settling into the apartment I and some other roommates walked around quite a bit. Nicole and I went on a search for Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River, which took us much too long since we walked around half of Florence but then on the way back realized you literally take the first right out of our apartment and walk straight for about 5 blocks. All of us made a trip to the grocery store, had a glass of wine at a snack bar and went out for dinner and gelato. Needless to say, we won’t be eating out that often as it is fairly expensive in terms of having to pay servicio (cover charge or service charge) and paying for water. We didn’t even get multiple courses in our meal like real Italians. Although, I really don’t know how they eat that much because I got a full plate of pasta and that was plenty for a meal. After dinner we went and got some gelato which was amazing. Probably my favorite thing so far. I still have yet to try espresso or any sort of coffee here, but I’ve got time. After we were all so exhausted (we got back from dinner around 9:45 due to our terrible waiter who took forever and kept trying to get us to buy more courses and/or wine which was only sold by the bottle). Went to bed early. Got up this morning at 9. Which wasn’t late enough. We had orientation at 10am at the school’s main building and then we went to the Central Market - about a 5 minute walk from our apartment to pick up some fresh vegetables to cook with.I got the prettiest tomatoes and some onions. Karen bought some strawberries, which are possibly the most perfect strawberries I’ve ever tried.
Shopping for food is a bit different. In the markets you typically have to ask the vendor to get what you want for you, you don’t touch the food. Although one of the ladies today let me pick my own onions. And the supermarkets are hardly super.. they’re about the size of a Walgreens in total square footage if not smaller and peanut butter is more expensive than nutella. All the labels are in italian so I could only guess that the milk I bought was low fat because of the green cap. But they still had pretty much everything we needed.
It’s been a lot cooler than I expected and the only thing I have to wear is my NC sweatshirt. It was 55 this morning and it shouldbe about 73 today, but the cobblestone and stone buildings seem to keep the city a bit cooler. Of course, I’ll probably be grateful for this weather 2 or 3 weeks from now when it’s like 100 degrees outside.
Getting a phone soon, I’ve been to two different places to see what plans they have so soon I’ll have an Italian number.
Also, I’ve seen more guys wearing jewelry than anywhere else.
Yeah…that didn’t go so well for about the first 30 minutes. Tuesday was my first drawing class which lasts from 9-1 and then 3-6…that’s a lot of class time. Luckily our professor seems really chill, but at the same time she was good about affirming us when we were doing well and she kept a constant eye on our class of 8 (?) people. She’s lived in Florence for the past 12 years. Many of the professors and administrators here are from the U.S. or somewhere else and they (my drawing prof is from Canada) but all are fluent in italian from living here for some substantial amount of time. Anyway, the morning portion of the class, she gave us time to run over to one of the art suppliers and get some preliminary materials before the live model came to class. We did some quick 3 minute, 15 minute, and 20 minute (give or take) sketches for the morning portion of the class. They were a little rough until I got into the swing of things…around the end of class. haha. It was a struggle, but I could feel the improvement by the hour. We had our two hour lunch break (much needed) and then returned to walk over to a nearby museum where we could get in with our museum passes and sketched statues for a couple hours. This gave us a good exercise in having a very still model; but really, statues (especially greek/roman statues) are perfect for really learning how to sketch the human body since they are so exaggerated in form and perfect in muscle tone. I saw Donatello’s David at this museum! I was just walking through one of the exhibition rooms and there it was! The little bronze boy that everyone passes over to see the more extravagant marble David by Michaelangelo. It was pretty cool to see something I had studied in class, just there in front of me. However, it was a long day - and we got out of class an hour early! The museum closed an hour earlier than the website said - which I really think is just up to the employees. Italians take breaks in the middle of the day, AT LEAST an hour if not two, and they also open on the exact times that places open, and they close the minute the place is supposed to close and all the employees rush out. Really. It was 10 minutes til “closing” and they basically kicked us out and then locked the doors. I guess it’s kind of a less stressful way of living though. They work when they’re supposed to work, and they don’t when it’s not within store hours. Of course, I’m sure there are people who dedicate more of their time to shop/company, but it seems the culture here is to do what you’re required and not any more.
Also, I finally got pizza today! It was delicious. I’ll post a picture soon, because, of course I took pictures with my food. It was a great brick oven pizza with lots of tomato sauce, mozzarella, capers, peppers, and tuscan salami. Fantastic. And the place didn’t charge servizio! Definitely a bonus. The only thing that could top that would be free water. But we all know that’s not happening any time soon in Florence…but if it did, I would be going to the place every day.
-Currently our TV doesn’t work, so hopefully that gets fixed soon. The only thing that it does is show static on 90 channels.
- The Gelato Festival started today and runs thru Sunday. That means a bunch of Piazzas and other places around Florence have shows with people cooking gelato, history of gelato, you can make your own gelato, and best of all, you can eat a lot of gelato. I must go. And I’m sure it’d make for some great pictures with my new digital camera!
- Sunday is tentatively a trip to Pisa/Lucca for the day. So I get to see the leaning tower and take one of those pictures where it looks like I’m holding it up.
- I get an exchange partner for italian language - a girl who goes to the university in Florence. Hopefully I’ll get quicker at talking like a 5 year old in Italian, help her with English, but also meet some real Italians! Which is kind of hard to do on your own.
-Bartenders party with the partiers. It’s an interesting dynamic. Back home bartenders most definitely could not drink with people who come into the bar. But oh noooo, not here. They’re European…they’re probably Eastern European, so I’m sure they’re fine
I’ll update more when I’m not tired.
That is all.
Sorry! Long time, no tumblr! I can’t believe 6 days has gone by so quickly. I’ve been exhausted and just going going going with class and trips and exploring the city etc. I’d say the theme of my and my roommates stay so far is being on the strugglebus. You don’t realize, til you go far away from home, what things you take for granted. Like being able to walk down the street without tripping (this doesn’t really apply to Chapel Hill) on the cobblestone, or being able to see out of your contacts. I’m tired a lot, my contacts are bugging out because of who knows what - the air here and streets are dustier than back in good ol’ North Car’lina. It hasn’t been consistently warm since I got here. I’ve stubbed my toe twice on the curb and a step out to the balcony of our apartment. I sound like a fool when I try to speak Italian. etc. And my hair has not felt truly clean since I got here no matter how much or how little I wash it. Also, I sat outside today for about 35 minutes and got a shorts tan. The list goes on. This isn’t to complain or say that I’m not having a good time. I absolutely love it! I feel like all of us get a good laugh out of ourselves more often than at home because we simply don’t know how to live here haha. Even going to the grocery store and finding things is a struggle. Can’t read the label? Use context clues and hope for the best.
This past weekend I had the chance to go to Siena and San Gimignano - two beautiful hilly Tuscan cities about an hour and a half from Florence. And if my facebook picture uploader was working or the internet was faster you would’ve already had pictures to look at :) (strugglebus!). However, you will just have to take my word for it that these places were gorgeous! And significantly less crowded than Firenze. Siena has a beautiful duomo (which just specifies a type of church/cathedral) and Il Campo - the piazza in the center of the city in which Il Palio is held every year which is a major horse race. It is amazing that they have a horse race on a cobblestone plaza, but, hey, it’s Italian. The church was absolutely amazing - gold detail, marble sculpture, busts of every pope ever, marble inlay pictures on the floors, etc. etc. Completely ridiculous and like nothing you’ve ever seen…unless, of course, you’ve been to Italy or a pre-18th c. cathedral. I got to see some great works of art which I’ve previously learned about in art history back at school, so that was really cool. I had delicious ricciarelli - which are traditional almond cookies from Siena which they are apparently famous for. Next time I return, I plan to try the paneforte, which is another specialty - dense spice cake with fruit etc. However, it cost about 6 euro for one piece, so I left that for another time. San Gimignano is a beautifully conserved medieval city; which, apparently was forgotten/lost for a long time before people returned and the architecture definitely shows that. We went on another tour of a church which was much smaller, but definitely beautiful. Definitely places I would say to go spend a day touring and eating there.
Another great thing that I’ve been doing is meeting a few Italians! My Italian language partner, Benedetta, is wonderful and so sweet. She is so patient to put up with me when she speaks in Italian and I pretty much understand 10% of what she says. But I’ve been here for a week and a half, so I can’t be too hard on myself. We’ve also met our neighbors who live upstairs - several boys from Italy studying architecture. They were nice enough to introduce us to some of their friends and invite us out as well. Went to a much more Italian piazza last weekend; I say more Italian because we (3 of us) were the only Americans there haha. But that’s what we want! I want to be more immersed, not just enjoy the city center or the more touristy part of Florence. There’s something to be said for living here, it’s definitely easier, and being in the center and around more tourists is good for being here such a short time. But it’s nice, and I think you learn more about people, if you really get out there with some locals.
Some differences I’ve noticed:
- people shop for groceries more often
- it is very hard to find foods/cooking supplies from other countries
- people don’t wear a lot of color - which makes it even easier to pick out americans etc. especially going out at night
- people don’t ask how you are/how things are going. sometimes in caffes. My Italian professor mentioned this - when she visited the U.S. everywhere she went - stores etc. - people would say ‘how are you?’ ‘how’s it going?’ and she would about go into detail until she realized people just want you to respond with ‘fine’ and not much else. I guess we consider it friendly, but at the same time it is funny how she had to be told the person didn’t actually want to know how she was etc.and maybe here, they are just not bothering you.
- many people know a little english and a lot speak decent english, while most people that visit don’t speak any italian.
- you have to air out the apartment
- people don’t really drive cars, there are a TON of motorinos! (vespas and other motorcycles)
- you have to pay for water -__- possibly one of my least favorite things here
- TV works but 90% of the shows are American dubbed in Italian…bad news bears all around
I know there’s more but I’ll update when I remember. Friday, I am having lunch with Benedetta, which should be good language practice for both of us. My best fran’ comes tomorrow! and my birthday is this weekend! It should be a great second half of the week! Hopefully I can get some pics up by tonight.