Orientation, meeting my host family, touring the city and more.
Last Monday, I boarded a plane for the (almost) first time and set off for Italy. Hard to believe it’s already been a week!
We kicked off orientation at a hotel just outside Florence, where, after a much-needed shower, I got my first taste of Italian food. We spent that night and the next morning attending orientation meetings on topics like how to register for classes, personal safety tips, cultural information about living in Italy and more, until finally, it was time to board the bus to Florence.
First stop: Villa Rossa, the beautiful SU Florence campus. The inside of the building looks like something out of a museum and the outside is dotted with local vegetation that I still can’t believe is real. (Olive trees? Palm trees?? Am I in a travel advertisement?) Art lines the walls, the ceilings are painted so beautifully, and the library is full of so many books about the area and its history that I so wish I was going to have the time to read. Immediately upon our arrival (since this was, of course, the most anticipated information) we learned about our host families and when we would meet them.
Group after group went inside the school to meet the families, until finally, it was my turn. Our host mother and her 10-year-old son greeted my roommate and me in the Villa Rossa before ushering us out, where we met our host father outside by the car. We were all so excited!
Dinner that night was incredible. The Italians eat their dinner in multiple courses, so after a full plate of spaghetti, we were presented with an omelette, then assorted fruits, and an apple cake for dessert – all accompanied with wine and olive oil made from the grapes and olives that the family grows in their Tuscan garden.
The next day, the school held a meeting in a nearby theater to talk about the various Italian language and culture classes we’d all be taking. Since I’ve already taken two semesters of Italian, I’ll be taking ITA 201 (level three). There were a few other meetings that morning, but none of them applied to me, so my roommate and I took the extra time to head into the city and explore.
We met back up with the rest of the students for lunch at Edi House, a restaurant near the school. I still can’t believe how good the food is here! I tried eggplant for the first time (and I’m so glad I did!) and the mozzarella was so fresh. We spent the afternoon enjoying gelato at the school, meeting with our future professors, and taking our first guided tour of the city.
Friday brought us the surprisingly easy process of registering for classes. The hardest part was choosing which ones to take! I ultimately decided on History of Witchcraft, Classical Mythology and Italian 3.
Satisfied with our class selections, a few friends and I headed towards the city for some lunch near the Duomo.
That evening, my roommate and I shared another incredible dinner with my host family and an even more incredible experience afterwards. My host mother asked my roommate and I if we’d like to go for a drive, and of course we said yes. The city is stunning at night. We drove everywhere – she showed us sights we might never have found on our own. One of the most breathtaking was the view of the entire city from the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo. It was so beautiful I can hardly describe it.
I didn’t bring my camera on that little adventure (who knew we’d run into such breathtaking sights?) so I have the perfect excuse to go back. Not that I needed one – I plan to go back there as many times as possible no matter how many photos of it I end up with! The area is full of interesting museums and churches we can visit too.
We ended the night by going to our host brother’s favorite gelato place in the whole city. Talk about a notte perfetta!
Gelato Count: 7