The Beginning

What a whirlwind of a week! Well, technically it’s been 4 days but it feels like so much longer. The past few days have been unbelievable and I’ve already done so much in such a short time. I’ve toured the city, crossed the Ponte Vecchio, made pasta and had my first legal glass of wine among so many other things.

Day 1

After my awful time traveling, everyone in my program was bussed from the airport to the Grand Hotel Baglioni for a meet & greet and some food! I was in a room with my future roommates Bre, Michelle and Kayla. We all got along really from the start and have been inseparable since that day. We had a couple of hours to relax before dinner, so of course I took a nap. Dinner was a buffet on the rooftop of the hotel with amazing views and I had my first Italian pasta. Just a simple rotini with marinara sauce tasted so much better in Italy. It was the first time I had pasta truly al dente and it wasn’t bad. I usually like my pasta overcooked and almost mushy, but it was still delicious and I’m sure I’ll have to get used to it because we all know I’m going to be eating a lot of pasta. That night we went back to the room and read until I fell asleep. **The fact that I read a book to fall asleep just speaks for itself that I am already maturing!

Day 2

Despite falling asleep before 10 pm the night before, the 8 am wake-up call was still horrible. None of us could get out of bed, but once we remembered it was our first day in Italy, we were all instantly energetic. For breakfast I had a hard boiled egg and some green tea because the buffet was packed and I was too impatient and starving to wait in line for anything else. After breakfast we had a two hour orientation about housing then we got to go back to our rooms before a city tour. We all agreed that we didn’t feel jet lagged but when we got back to the room all of us instantly fell asleep for three hours. Luckily we didn’t sleep through the tour and still had time to get some pizza beforehand. The tour of the city was, for lack of a better word, awesome. It didn’t cover the entire city, but the biggest parts including the Ponte Vecchio which literally means “old bridge”, il Duomo, the fake statue of Michelangelo’s David and what I called the “fifth ave” of Florence that had Gucci, Versace, Armani etc. I learned a lot about the city’s history too and our tour guide was so cute! She spoke English well but had never been to America! I told her she should come stay with me in Massachusetts but she didn’t necessarily jump on that idea. At the end of the tour the four of us got gelato (mine vanilla with chocolate fudge) and then went to our cooking class. Cooking was so fun! We made four courses starting with an eggplant and cheesy apertivo (appetizer), two pasta courses and tiramisu. Don’t worry Mom, I got the recipes! After that we went back to the hotel and me, Bre and Michelle went out to a bar where they were playing American music!

Day 3

MOVE IN DAY! On Wednesday we moved into our Italian apartment! It is perfect! Complete with a rooftop terrace 🙂 The only down side is there is one bathroom and the shower is just a shower head and a drain with no curtain right and in front of the window. But we have great water pressure and endless hot water! PERFECTO! The place was stalked with lots of books including some books that I want to read for fun! Also, two of the textbooks I need for classes were left here so that’s convenient (and cheap!). We moved in at 8 am and that was an early morning for us so we all took the longestttt nap from like 10:30-5:30. It was so weird. I’ve noticed with all the naps I’ve taken (and there’s been a lot already) I go into a really deep sleep where my contacts hurt when I wake up and I have to change them. That night we all took turns showering and then blow drying our hair was a process because with the converters some of them don’t get as hot or as high pressure. Then we went out to a club that was really fun and I randomly ran into a girl I met from FSU my freshman year! What a coincidence! It was international students day at the club so we got in free and some free drinks! Go America!

Day 4

Today was another busy-ish day. We woke up and had to meet the group for school orientation. I still don’t realize that I’m going to be taking classes in three days and having to actually use my brain…it’s been a while! The first part of orientation was in a beautiful theater and the second part was at the school library. We got our class schedules and learned about attendance policies and other standard school things. Orientation got out at around 5 and we all came back and napped again (what a surprise!) then we got dinner down the street and I had delicious gnocchi! The real kind! I like how the meals are pretty small portions and simple/plain so its like I’m eating at home. Now we’re all back in the apartment relaxing because tomorrow we’ve decided is going to be a productive day with no napping! We’re going to finally go to the market and get groceries so we don’t have to keep spending money going out. I’m going to practice Italian with my roommates because they all speak it pretty well and have a placement test tomorrow morning and want to review.

Arrivederci!

 

p.s. I’ll post pics as soon as I figure out how to post a lot on here!

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iPhone Captures

Here are a few pictures I’ve taken with my phone! It takes a while to upload my real camera pics from iphoto to this because the internet isn’t as fast as in America!

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Getting There

WOW! I used to think that after flying to Tallahassee alone I could do anything, but now that I’ve traveled to ITALY alone (partially) I know I can do anything.

The first of my three flights that would take me to Florence, Italy was scheduled for 5:55 pm Sunday. Of course, my parents and I got there 2 hours early to check-in and be stress-free. Well neither of those things happened. When trying to check in to my flight, we were told there were problems with my connecting flights on my way home (in MAY) and for some reason they couldn’t print a ticket. Long story short we waited at the front desk for almost 2 hours on hold with so many different people from so many different airlines to get my ticket. By 5:20 my friends had already boarded the plane and I wasn’t even through security! They finally just printed out a receipt for my final connecting flight and told me I had to get the ticket at the Barcelona airport. I said O.K, kissed mom & dad, and ran through security and to the terminal, where it was just like from any movie and the door was closing and I was the last one let on. I found my seat in the middle of 2 older men and sat down in a complete fluster, not at all ready for the long journey ahead of me. Looking back, I am kind of glad it was so rushed only because I had no time at all to be sad about leaving. Once we were headed to London I was absolutely PUMPED.

Boston > London

This flight was scheduled to be 6 hrs and 20 mins. but ended up only taking a little over 5 hours. I watched the majority of a season of 30 Rock  and woke up the man to my left a couple times from laughing out loud, mainly because Liz Lemon was wearing a Chip Clip in her hair, and I just thought it was hilarious and couldn’t get over it. I got the pasta option dinner but didn’t eat the ravioli, instead just had some salad and pocketed my carrot cake for later.

London > Barcelona

Once we got to London I was all happy because the longest flight was over with and I was with my friend Ally for the rest of the way. However, once we went through a round of security (and they didn’t stamp my passport, which I was mad about!) we realized we weren’t on the same flight. My flight was already boarding (!) and Ally’s didn’t leave for another hour and a half! We said we’d meet up in Barcelona and I sprinted down three flights of stairs onto a terminal train and then up more stairs. Once again, I made it to the gate to be the last one let on. Luckily, however, the plane was practically empty and I got a whole row to myself. As soon as we took off I put up all the arm rests and laid across the seats. A nice flight attendant brought me over a blanket and pillow and I was out for the 2 hour trip. I woke up to the pilot saying “we will be landing in 10 minutes” so I sat right up and buckled up and immediately felt a wave of nausea and a splitting headache. I had to breathe into the paper bag thats always given out and the same flight attendant sat with me and rubbed my back. EMBARRASSING! I’m supposed to be a mature twenty-something-year-old traveling the world. Oh well, it made me feel better.

Barcelona > Florence

The Barcelona airport was completely empty when I arrived. No one else was going to a connecting flight, which I didn’t know, so I followed everyone to the EXIT (I saw no signs in English, dad!) but at least got my passport stamped. Once I was outside I knew I did something wrong and went back in just wandering alone in the halls for 20 minutes scared, nervous, worried, and upset. No one was speaking English! Somehow I found some security and just went through it and on the other side was the real airport with all the normal hustle and bustle one would expect. I asked three people where the “Vueling Airlines” desk was before I found it, and once I made it there – “no hablo ingles”. Cool. I tried to just point and give her my “receipt” ticket so she could give me the real thing. She looked at it then called someone and it was a flashback to 12 hours earlier when I stood waiting on hold for so long and almost missed my flight (and that was with my parents calling the shots and in ENGLISH). I knew deep down that I was going to be stranded in Barcelona the rest of my life. Thankfully, she got off the phone after about 15 minutes, probably because she saw I was crying, and gave me a ticket and waved me along. Finally, something went my way. It was three hours until my next flight and I had to get some food & water in my system, because I was still feeling queasy and gross from that last flight. My first euros purchase was an Evian water bottle and a bag of Lays Original – how exciting! Then I waited about an hour and finally Ally met me at the gate and I was no longer alone. The flight to Florence was quick and painless and I lucked out again with an empty row. Taking off from Barcelona was so pretty and when I saw the Swiss Alps it was the first time I truly realized what “a picture doesn’t do it justice” meant. It was absolutely breath-taking and indescribable.

I was on cloud 9 when we landed in Florence, but then found out it was raining (ew) and that they lost my luggage! I really shouldn’t have been shocked after the way my trip started out. Hopefully my bag will be here by tomorrow or the next day, and I do have enough stuff to hold me until then, but not much longer so let’s keep out fingers crossed it comes soon!

Journal

Although I do not travel much, as I Journalism major I do know one thing – keep a journal (and of course a blog too)! It does seem like a lot to keep a blog and a journal but I will reserve all emotions for my journal, and my exciting adventures, pictures, food etc. with my blog followers 🙂

I’m obsessed with the journal I got at Barnes & Noble. They have a huge selection and I really spent a lot of time looking for the right one. I’m always picky when it comes to school planners, notebooks and those types of things. I thought at first to go with a small leather European looking notebook, then maybe one with inspirational quotes, but when I saw this one I fell in love with it!

My journal made by Galison

My journal made by Galison

It has a ton of world maps inside, along with both monthly and weekly planners, a space to write and then tons of blank pages for drawings. There’s also a little pocket in the back to keep some scraps of things found! It’s small and cute and will fit right in my satchel.

I bought this journal at B&N for $14.99 but you can also order it online from the Galison website here.

Starting to Pack

It’s four days before I leave for Florence and I just started to pack! Of course, I had to start by thoroughly cleaning my room, which resulted in the resurfacing of my favorite pair of jeans from high school (and they still fit!). Not only did I find some jeans, but also 2 cardigans which will come in very handy since I’ve read a lot about layering in Europe! Considering I haven’t even left yet, I’m not sure how well I packed, but figured I’d post the links to some blogs and advice I found online about packing.

http://herpackinglist.com/2011/08/ultimate-packing-list-italy/

http://www.walksofitaly.com/blog/travel-tips/what-to-pack-for-trip-to-italy

http://blog.bus2alps.com/2013/01/09/what-to-pack-firenze-style/ <– I would definitely recommend reading all the other posts this blog has. It really helped me get excited for the trip and about traveling to other countries! I read this for a few hours straight one day and was just totally taken away!

http://girlsguidetobackpackingeurope.blogspot.com

Also, don’t forget to check the average weather during your trip!!

http://www.worldweatheronline.com/Florence-weather-averages/Toscana/IT.aspx

1 Week Away!

I will be leaving for Florence, Italy in a week! I take off Sunday night from Logan Airport in Boston, MA, make a couple quick stops in London and Barcelona, and then will finally be under the Tuscan sun. Speaking of which, I watched that movie for the first time last night – so inspiring!

This week I’ll be preparing to leave by packing, practicing Italian on my iPhone app, and searching the web to keep up to speed with the latest European fashions. I’m not particularly trendy here in the U.S., but I’m only abroad for 4 months so why not look cute?!

I’ve never been to Europe before so it is going to be a completely new and surprisingly experience for me. The past few weeks leading up to it I’ve been nervous, excited, scared, anxious, thrilled and everywhere inbetween. I think all of this uncertainty is coming from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what to expect, but that’s also making it so much more exciting! Most of my friends are studying abroad this semester have already left and I have been so jealous following their lives through facebook, so I really just need to leave now!

If you’ve read any of my blogs before you might know I love baking! I’m not sure how much baking there is in Italy, but I do know one thing – gelato! However, when it comes to real food (as in not sweets) I’m probably the pickiest 20-year-old eater on the planet, but will obviously have to keep an open mind while away.

My plan is to update this blog at least once a week with exciting food and adventures, but am not sure of the Internet connection I’ll have. Hopefully I’ll get free wifi in my apartment but I can’t be certain until I show up! There are definitely Internet cafes, so that could be where I end up doing all my blogging.

I’m looking forward to my adventure abroad!