CIAO FROM FLORENCE!
I started my study abroad on August 18th along with Regina Amundson. Before arriving in our city of study, we made our own plans to travel to Ireland and London. Ireland was amazing and one of my favorite countries that I have visited. We stayed in Dublin at the Fleet Street Hotel, it was nice and in the CENTER of everything that we wanted to do. We also stayed in Galway for a night, in order to visit the Cliffs of Moher, a.ka. the most beautiful place I have ever seen. London was a very big city so we used one of those very touristy tour busses to see things and get around. This was the first time I had ever experienced the Metro and we successfully mastered it in the first try. It seems confusing at first but you just have to figure out which line goes to where you are going, and change lines when needed to do that.
The program that I chose to go through was ISA-International Studies Abroad. This is because UofL doesnâ€™t have an exchange program in Florence, Italy. The staff is amazing and goes out of their way to help you do anything and everything. We arrived at the Rome airport where they picked us up. We stayed in Rome for a few days for our first excursion with the program and then moved on to Florence where we stay. I really liked Rome and would have also had an amazing time if I had studied there. Top three things that I did there: made a wish in the Trevi Fountian, climbed the Spanish Steps and looked at Rome from the top, and visited the Colosseum!
They had our apartments picked out for us which is pretty nice because I know that some people who study abroad have to find their own. My apartment was a surprise because it is much bigger than expected! It also has air conditioning and a washer which not many Italians have. There are seven girls in total in our apartment. We have three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and a kitchen. What we donâ€™t have is a living room but we have all gotten over that fact because we donâ€™t really like to lounge around in the apartment much, we would rather be out enjoying the beautiful city. Italians like to conserve energy, so we have to keep in mind to turn off lights, take short showers, and we hang our clothes up to dry considering we donâ€™t even have a dryer to use.
The only class that is mandatory to take is Italian. I didnâ€™t, but I recommend you taking a year or two before you come abroad. I am in the beginnerâ€™s class and it isnâ€™t too much of a challenge but would have liked to know some before I came. It is incredible how many Italians can speak English. Some are more fluent than others but almost everyone can understand some. It makes me so jealous. All of my teachers in my other classes also speak English pretty well; I havenâ€™t had any barriers with the language difference at all. The other classes that I am taking are: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Renaissance Italy, Italian Culture through Festivals and Feasting, Wine Appreciation I, and Fashion, Media, and Culture. I absolutely love my Food class! If I could go back– I would have taken a lot of different cooking classes instead of taking a variety of things (even though I do enjoy all of my classes).
Besides Rome, ISA has also taken us on many different excursions, and have events planned for us throughout the semester. They’ve taken us to museums, on day trips to other places in Florence, a soccer game, had cooking lessons, and then we also have a Thanksgiving dinner planned and we are going to an opera! All of these things are optional but I have done most of them and they were great experiences. My favorite was the soccer game and a visit to Cinque Terre beach-another one of the most beautiful places that I have been!
We have already had a few visitors from home, Matthew Case and Jacob Huff which are friends of ours from UofL. We are also going to have Regina’s sister visit us and Jenny Blake, who also went to UofL. Having them come makes it feel like a little piece of home is here for a week! While Matt and Jacob were here we visited Venice. This place is absolutely amazing! While there we took the obvious gondola ride and I even got to get up with the gondola man and help drive it!
In the past few weeks a lot has happened- Midterms and Fall Break! Midterms all went well as planned. AND FALL BREAK WAS AMAZING! During the break some of my roommates and I planned to go to Barcelona, Paris, and Interlaken. You might not be as familiar with Interlaken as the other cities, but it is in Switzerland and is the adventure capital! It looked like a post card and was so pretty! I went canyoning in melted glacier water–cold but totally worth it! You can youtube it, but basically you hike up to the top of some canyons and then make your way down them by jumping in pools of water and sliding down rocks–forwards and backwards! I was so much fun. The highlight was SKYDIVING over the Swiss Alps. It cost a small fortune but I do not care in the least bit and want to go again. While in Paris I did the usual….sat on the lawn of the Eiffel tower and climbed it, saw the MONA LISA, etc. In Barcelona I saw a lot of Gaudi architecture and went to his park, which was awesome. I did more things in this one week than I have done in my entire life!
So now it’s back to school mode! Thinking about the papers and presentations that I’m going to be working on over the next month and lastly the finals! Then moving back home–so sad. Time has been passing by WAY too quick for me. It seems like yesterday when I was just arriving in Ireland. The environment over here is so much more laid back than in the states. I’ve been taking the time to sit back and enjoy the atmosphere while waiting on the check at dinner rather than wondering how fast it is going to come. I feel as though I have been more lucky than others because yea I miss my friends and family, but I haven’t had or taken the time to even think about it. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I am trying to do everything possible to make it the most amazing time of my life. When am I ever going to live in Florence, Italy again? Probably never. I LOVE THIS PLACE!! Thanks to the COB for giving me this experience.