I don’t really know what I was expecting when I got on the plane to head across the world, but it wasn’t running across (what felt like) the entire Portuguese airport to catch a connecting flight. When I tell you I’ve never ran so much a day in my life… I don’t think I did that much running in middle school P.E.! I also don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved to see a stranger. When I saw the man at the desk to scan my boarding pass, I think I could’ve broke out in tears of joy. The layover was hands down the worst part of the flight over.
The plane rides to Portugal and to Florence were smoother, than expected, and had some amazing views. I don’t know what was cooler: seeing the sea of clouds in the early morning, seeing the clean-cut shapes of the Portuguese terrain, looking down at the winding rivers of Spain, seeing where to land meets the ocean on the coast of Italy, or seeing where the vast mountains end and the city begins. I have to say, seeing the city of Florence, for the first time, was the most beautiful thing.
The busy streets and large crowds are otherworldly compared to anything I’ve ever experienced, considering I work at a theme park back in Tampa, that says a lot. Something very different, here, is how the streets double as sidewalks and places for cars to drive. Back in America, if someone would’ve driven as close to me as the cars do here, I think I would’ve said some very colorful things. But, walking on the streets of Florence is completely different. You kind of move to the side and let the cars pass, or you keep walking silently praying that they will stop.
I’ve never walked (again) this much in my life. My second day in the beautiful city I walked 22,154 steps, a total of 9.8 miles, and climbed two flights of stairs multiple times. Within the same day, I caught TWO major Charlie horses in both legs. I laid on the floor, of my beautiful apartment, for a solid hour. This was all the result of a poor choice of walking shoes during the city tour. Never again will I walk that much in a pair of Vans. But, when I finally felt better, we left the apartment for a walk around the city to see some of the sights.
The beautiful sights are accompanied by amazing food and gelato, that’s quite addicting. I can already tell, I’m going to miss the fresh (non-GMO) taste of everything. But, my new obsession is Lemon Soda. It’s the perfect amount of lemon and fizzy goodness. The creamy gelato will definitely be hard to part with. Everything here just seems so much cheaper than food back in America. Our first night here, we had AMAZING pasta at a quaint restaurant for only about nine euros. I’ve also learned that Italian pesto is nothing like American pesto… I’ve ever had sausage that didn’t look fully cooked. Or cooked at all.
Did I mention that I live right on the river? Well, I do! Not only are the views beautiful, but it’s quite noisy living so close to the river. The second night here (June 24th), there was a firework show that went on for ages to celebrate a saint that is said to be the protector of the city. Mind you, this firework show started at 10PM and left like it went on forever. I really didn’t understand how thin walls could be until then. I heard every cheer and every boom, crackle, and pop! All from the comfort of my spacious apartment on Corso dei Tintori.
I forgot to mention that my class is a tiresome twenty-three-minute walk, in the blazing sun, from Corso dei Tintori. But, the streets are so pretty, so it’s worth it. My first day of class was pretty interesting. I learned that my teacher has a thick accent and loves group work. I also learned that twenty-three minutes of walking for the people of Florence isn’t the same as twenty-three minutes of walking in America. They sprint! We walk at a more leisurely pace.
Luckily my experiential learning opportunity is only a six-minute walk from my class. My first day was spent speed walking through the blistering heat and kinda-sorta doing my first assignment wrong. I don’t think I checked out the competition properly, but I turned in the assignment anyway! The worst part about the assignment was that the instructor didn’t tell me I could type the assignment until I was almost finished. But, Dimora is actually very interesting. It is a student-ran bed-and-breakfast that houses those affiliated with Florence University of the Arts. Whether it’s facility or family members of current students and alumni, Dimora is operated on a donation basis.
Luckily I don’t have classes on Friday, so Friday will be the day to completely tour the city. So far I’ve met some really cool people, and they want to plan a trip to Pisa. But, that will be a story for the next blog post. If you made it this far, thank you so much!