Monday, February 27, 2012

Megan C. - Florence, Italy - Spring 2012

After a month and a half in the beautiful city of Florence, my life is only getting better and better!  The city is relatively small, so I walk everywhere! Even though it has been surprisingly cold, the walk to class is a fantastic one! On my way, I pass right by The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore and over the Bridge of Gold!
 Speaking of school, I am attending Accademia Italiana, which is a very small art and design school so the class sizes aren’t much of a change from Elmhurst’s.  My classes are mostly studio art classes, which can be time consuming; however, I feel like I’ve learned more about improving my techniques in the time I’ve been here than in my whole life.  While I normally dislike general education courses, the ones I’m taking here are so interesting!! Italian Cinema is probably my favorite and it counts towards some gen. ed. course that would probably make me fall asleep. How great is that?
My biggest/only disappointment with the school is that a lot of my classes are only with study abroad students from America.  However, in the one where I do have international students, I make a big effort to see them outside of class so I can learn about their culture from their perspective.
Since I don’t have a meal plan, I try and make small quick meals to save money for traveling and shopping! But going out for good meal is extremely important to understand the culture. At first it was hard not eating dinner till after 8, but there are wonderful things called aperitivos to hold you over!  This is a typical Italian course where you order a drink and then you get appetizers to go along with no extra cost! Most times when I get an aperitivo, I use this as a way to skip dinner since it’s cheaper! On top of meals, drinks are pretty pricey for when you go out.  There is also a cover charge for at least 10 Euros for when you go out to the Discoteca. 
Coffee culture is also very important here! If you’re coming here try to know the typical drinks and don’t order a cappuccino after noon or they’ll look at you like you’re crazy!! While all of these experiences are fun and even necessary, make sure you save a lot of money before you leave because it adds up fast!
And do be careful of your wallet! I thought I had everything under control until I lost my wallet. I had to cancel my credit card (luckily I had an emergency card and money set aside) and it took almost a month for my new one to arrive! Be safe and if it does happen to you, just remember it’s not the worst thing in the world so it doesn’t damper your experience.
Other than the wallet mishap, there haven’t been any real issues that I’ve had with the city! Sure I do get kissy noises made at me by old Italian men, but that is something part of their culture that you learn to ignore. I just try and remember that women are valued like art here so I don’t get irritated.
While I could talk for hours more about the chocolate festival, traveling and so much more, I have class so I must run! If you have any questions, I'd love to help!
Ciao for Now,


Blogger Angela Koch said...

Italy seems so lovely! I am hoping to get there myself in the Fall when I study in Europe! Any suggestion of where or what I should visit if I get the opportunity to visit Italy?

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'm partially biased to Florence and I would definitely go there over Milan. Fall would be the perfect time to visit too because it does get extremely crowded with tourists in the Spring. But Florence has the Uffizi art gallery, which has The Birth of Venus (a must see if you love art) and other famous buildings like the Basilica Di Santa Maria (also known as the Duomo.) And if you get the chance, climb the Duomo because it has the most spectacular view of the city. I haven't been to Rome yet, but I've also been to Sorrento and Pompeii. You could probably do that in one weekend since they're in the same region. Sorrento is right on the Amalfi coast so there is the Mediterranean Sea and Pompeii has some really fascinating history!

I'm sure there is tons more and I can always tell you after I've traveled around later on! Good luck with studying abroad. You'll love it.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Megan,
Italy seems absolutely wonderful.It sounds like I'll definitely have to visit. It sounds so different from America that I wanted to know if you felt any kind of culture shock, and if so, how did you work through it?

--Lake (Ashley)

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did feel culture shock, but it was minimal. I knew going in to this that it would be a new experience so that could have been why it didn't affect me as much. When I did feel overwhelmed or upset I tried different things to make me feel better. If I was sick of pasta or if I missed home, I would go to the diner for a cheeseburger. If I was feeling cramped in the tiny streets I would go to one of the gardens. Just remember to laugh off all of the little things because you're here for too short of a time to worry too much. Keeping a journal also helps to release some steam.

4:55 PM  

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