• Abby Meyer

Abby Abroad: First Impressions

My Italian vocabulary expands as far as 'ciao' and 'gelato,' but here I am, living in Florence, Italy for four months...what an adventure it will be!

This past week was a whirlwind. I flew out of Chicago with a few familiar faces-- Johnny's aunt and cousins were on the same flight! I also met my new roommate, Kierin, at the airport, and we traveled together to Florence. Due to the time zone differences, the flight attendants served us dinner (CST) and breakfast (GMT) only a few hours apart .

After a layover in Amsterdam, we boarded the flight to Florence. We flew over the Swiss Alps, which was the most beautiful view I have ever seen from a plane window.

The Florence airport is quite small, so it was easy to navigate and find Shauna, the CET study abroad staff member who picked us up from the airport. We arrived at Hotel Adriatico where we were welcomed with lunch and Italian pastries. By this time, I was so exhausted and ready unwind at our apartment.

Our taxi driver muttered in Italian, "You brought your whole house with you!," as he loaded up all 15 suitcases which belonged to the six girls in our cab.

Our apartment is quaint with lots of tuscan charm: red and white tiled floor, white walls with brick arches, beautiful, wooden planked ceilings, and a marbled bathroom equipped with a bidet I will never use. There's four of us in the apartment, so we each share a bedroom, and luckily, we have two bathrooms! The apartment is conveniently located in the city center about .5 miles away from the Duomo and only a 15 minute walk from school. Our neighborhood is named after the Basilica di Santo Croce, which is only a few blocks away. Every morning, I can hear the church bells ringing.

Most of my days were filled with orientation, finding the best SIM card provider (what a mess), and settling into the Italian way of life. I am not so jet-lagged anymore, but if there is one thing keeping me up, it's the sound of Italians roaming the streets at bar close. It's true, Italians LOVE their wine. Every night around 2 AM I am woken up by what seems to be crowds of people shouting 'goodnight' in Italian as they walk down our street. The walls are thicker than in the States, but they are not sound-proof; we sometimes hear our neighbors singing in Italian while they walk upstairs... I am definitely buying earplugs tomorrow.

Saturday was our first full free day. As a program, we visited Castello Del Trebbio, a castle built in 1184 on acres of vineyards and olive groves. Our tour guide, Angelo, is cousins with the current owner of the castle. We toured the castle's private rooms where a family presently resides, as well as the wine cellar located underneath the castle. The property was only 20 minutes outside of Florence in Tuscany's countryside, so the views were beautiful even on a dreary day. Afterwards, the family made us a traditional Italian meal, and Angelo led a wine tasting with wine from their vineyards. We also tried their extra virgin olive oil, which is used in cooking, as well as a medicine in Italian households. Italians believe 2 tablespoons of oil a day will make you live longer.

Classes begin tomorrow, and I am already looking forward to learning more Italian so I can understand more! I am picking up basic phrases like, 'excuse me' and 'how much?,'

but it would be nice to be able to read the labels at the grocery store. Ha!



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