Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lindsay C. - Italy - Spring 2010

It’s been about a month since I arrived in Florence and it took about 2 and half weeks until I actually felt like I was living here. First impressions…I do not know where to begin. I’m going to an art, design and fashion school which even in America would have been a new experience for me. Let’s just say Italians are quite fashionable and are in love with being quite fashionable. Dogs are everywhere, usually bundled up with some cute sweater following their owners around. I recently learned that the Italian view of dogs is much different from the States or UK. Where we consider the dog a part of the family and show much affection to it, Italians (though they dress their dog) do not show compassion. My teacher was telling us how if a family bought a puppy but then decided to go out of town, instead of paying someone to take care of the dog, they usually just release it to the streets.

Food. I have not stopped eating since I arrived. It is true, Italians are brilliant with their food and they spend hours in restaurants eating. I’m slowly trying to eat like and Italian. Very slow, and finishing everything put in front of me because most places do not let you take your food home for leftovers. Another thing I’ve needed to get used to, the amount of money I spend. Everything costs a lot here, and when I think about it in euros and then think about it in dollars it blows my mind. I’ve finally grown to think in euros and only euros so it does not seem as troublesome.

Italian cafes are so different from cafes at home. Italians receive their drink at the bar and continue to drink it at the bar. Once they finish it they pay and leave. No one sits, relaxes and sips their café latte or what have you. It took some getting used to it but I’m good following the flow now.

My favorite part about this experience so far is my art history class. Florence is filled with history, old buildings and old artwork. Learning art history at home is nothing compared to learning it here, the place where art history was basically born. Last week I had class in Florence’s famous Duomo (Cathedral) and learned about the history of it from the inside. A few weeks ago I had class in the Santa Croce, surrounded by the dead celebrities of Florence, with names like Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Galileo. I could have class like that the rest of my life!

The most difficult part for me, apart from being away from everyone I know, is two of my classes that are taught strictly in Italian. I am slowly learning the language but this does not help me when I am sitting in a Marketing and Trends class listening to the teacher speak for 2 hours in only Italian. She does look my direction and throw out a sentence or two in English to get me up to speed, but I can’t help but think I’m missing a lot. I will come away with great experience and new skills from this class but it does stress me out quite a bit to feel so lost. Oddly enough I do love it because I feel I am truly learning the way an Italian would instead of taking classes in only English. In our class we work on a group project for the entire semester and I am working with Italians, a girl from Malaysia and a girl from Holland. It’s very interesting to see the views of other people from around the world and try to work together to produce an end project. I love it!



Blogger Allison N. said...

Hey Lindsay, it sounds like you are having a great time. Florence is such an amazing city, i got the chance to visit it a few years ago. Has it been really hard living in a place where you dont speak the language, or did you go in knowing some Italian?

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Yishan Yang said...

I love the fact that you are learning about a new culture and adjusting to their way of life. I hope when I go to study abroad, I will have the opportunity to experience all that you're experiencing. It was nice reading your blog :)

6:00 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

HI Lindsay,

You seem to be adjusting really well to your surroundings and also taking advantage of everything Italy has to offer.

How are you managing your budgeting of money? Do you use a credit card or cash?
How often do you find time to go and explore new places, or are you working constantly?

Thanks for letting us read your blog!


7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lindsay,

It looks like you're having so much fun where your at! I cannot wait to experience all the wonders of Australia when I go in the Fall. Whats the best part about Italy though? Are the people nice, is the food amazing? Have a great rest of your trip.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I was wondering how the locals treat Americans, is there a taboo on being American there? I have a friend who's family is from Milan and they don't think very highly of Americans, but I was curious if there was noticable prejudice or this is a select case of my friends family just being judgmental. Thanks!

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay,
Sounds like you're learning how to live the life of an Italian! How much Italian did you take before going over there? I am going to Spain and I haven't taken a Spanish class in 2 years.
I went to Japan 3 years ago and I loved learned all of the little quirks of the country.
Have a great rest of your time there!

2:45 PM  
Blogger Lauren said...


I'm studying abroad in France in the fall, and I wanted to know how you feel about traveling to other countries while you're in Italy. Have you traveled around Europe? Or would you prefer to stay in Italy and get to better know that country?

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Lindsay, I'm a student at EC, do you have any tips I should know about picking classes while abroad?


12:26 AM  
Anonymous Lindsay C. said...

Woah 8 comments! I'm not sure how to respond so I'll try to hit them all:

Allison N - I came here not knowing any Italian. I was required to take an Italian class while living here, so that has been helpful. Really though, it has not been hard trying to live here not knowing the language. I've learned the basics and most people in the big cities know enough english so you can communicate the simple sort of things.

Yishan Yang - Thanks for reading my blog! Don't you worry, when you study abroad you will definitely have a great experience. Just keep an open mind.

Laura - Managing money, yes this took practice. I started out using mostly cash...because many of the restaurants I went to only accepted cash. I only use my credit card for shopping or purchasing trips, etc. Cash is the top choice for most places around here but I try not to take too much out at a time. I don't like to have a lot on me. But after the first month, managing the money got a lot easier. As far as going places, I've been staying mostly in Italy. I've gone on day trips to the countryside and weekend trips to places a little further away. This helps me not get behind on work, etc. I know people who have been traveling all over Europe...but they do seem a bit stressed about school work. I recommend definitely exploring as much as you can...but be reasonable because it can get stressful trying to do it all in only 4 months.

Anonymous - The best part about's hard for me to say. Food is an obvious choice. Also, just being surrounded by all this historical, artistic stuff has been an incredible experience. My favorite part has been taking day trips to see the countryside. It's a different life than the city life, and I feel like you get to see the real culture away from the tourism. All the people I've met have been very nice. You do get the sense they judge us Americans but most of the time they are very nice. And yes, the food has been spectacular. I have been full since I've arrived but continue eating anyway!

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay C. said...


Maureen - Locals and Americans. Well, Florence has a large population of study abroad students so the locals are used to it. The locals can tell you're an American instantly, but most of them are nice or like to joke around with you. It's pretty obvious when someone is judgmental but it isn't a problem. Most of the time they are either just curious or will completely ignore you from my experience. It's best to not take it personal and just be open and try speaking their language, then you'll see they will really appreciate it.

Paige - I've heard great things about Spain! I had zero experience in Italian before I came here but I took Spanish all through high school. That has really paid off. I think you'll find that you pick up the language very quickly, especially since you've studied it before. You'll probably improve a good amount being submerged in the Spanish culture!

Lauren- So far, I've stayed in Italy. I will be traveling outside Italy a couple times, but most of the time I have and will continue to travel throughout Italy. I've really enjoyed the culture and really wanted to get a good grasp about the country I've been living in. I do know people here that have traveled all over Europe and are having a blast doing it. I just find that I feel more attached to the place I've been living if I actually explore it instead of trying to see the entire continent but that's my opinion. Also, it is a little bit harder to get from Italy to other places in Europe (France, Spain, England, etc.) since we're further south but I have a friend in Belgium and travel has been very easy for her. It really is your choice if you try to get to know your country or if you want to sight see as much of Europe as you can. Either way you'll have a great experience!

Anonymous - Class. Yes...I had to choose classes before taking the prep class but got very lucky. My advice would be to take classes that would enhance your experience wherever you're studying. Here, many of the teachers try to get us out and about during class so if your school offers classes like that, I'd take them. I have an art history class that takes us to museums for class and a photography class that takes us to various parts of the city I probably would not have seen. As far as trying to get the credits to transfer correctly, just keep a good communication with your advisor and they should help you out. Good luck!

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Sara Kuzianik said...

I was wondering (aside from taking Italian so that you may learn the language) how did you pick your classes and why did you pick those specific classes?

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay C. said...

Sara - The school I'm going to here is an art school so the classes were not as diversified as many schools. I took classes that would help me with my major. Also, I really tried to take classes that would enhance my time here, such as art history classes that take me to different museums or photography classes that take me to different places in the city I might not have known about otherwise. I just looked at the class descriptions and tried to figure out which ones I was interested in and would also help take care of classes I needed to take for my major. I hope that helps!

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lindsay! I don't usually comment on these blogs - it is definitely student space - but I had to tell you that I have a book for you to read when you get home..."The Wisdom of Tuscany." It sounds like you are exploring the "simple life" there and this will just reinforce the firsthand knowledge you gain. Thanks for all of the great comments! Alice

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Kaitlyn Freerksen said...

Hey Lindsay, I'm a student at EC, do you have any tips I should know about picking classes while abroad?


Kaitlyn Freerksen

PS you already answered this, so no need to again! thanks for your response, I just needed to have my name on it so I submitted it again. Glad to hear you're having fun!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous John Cosby said...

Hi Lindsay!
I read that you had to take an Italian language course, and I was wondering what kind of other classes you are taking...?
I am studying in Madrid this summer and I'm not sure what kind of "fun" class to take: film, architecture, geography.. What are your thoughts?

Enjoy your time abroad!

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Lindsay C said...

John - sorry this took so long to reply to, I had a visitor and Spring Break came around. Other classes I am taking...I'm taking Computer Graphic Design, Photographing Florence, Marketing and Trends, and History of Italian Renaissance Art. I hear great things about Madrid, you're going to have a great time. My thoughts on classes to take would probably be any type of class that says they get you out and museums, etc. Architecture and history classes are great because when I learn something and then see it around where I live, its great to know a lot more about your surroundings. It makes it that much better and more interesting. If they offer classes like that for Madrid I highly recommend it. It really does make the trip a lot better learning about everything while you're there to see it. Hope that helps! Good luck to you

4:17 AM  

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