SU Florence Orientation | Week One

Orientation, meeting the host family, touring the city and more.

Last Monday, I boarded a plane for the (almost) first time and set off for Italy. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a week!

At JFK
At JFK, ready for takeoff! 

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 the night and the next morning attending orientation meetings – listening to registration information, safety tips, important info about living in Italy, etc. – until finally it was time to board the bus to Florence.

Our first stop was the beautiful SU Florence campus. The inside of the building is something out of a museum, and the outside is full of local vegetation that I still can’t believe is real. (Olive trees? Palm trees??) 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 each of our host families and when we would meet them.

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Inside SU Florence
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Don’t forget to look up! 

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 I 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.

First gelato, September 1
I had my first gelato while exploring the city!

We met back up with the rest of the students  for lunch at 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! Afterwards, we spent the afternoon enjoying gelato at the school, meeting with our future professors, and taking our first guided tour of the city.

September 1 lunch
Delicious Italian food from Edi House in Florence!  

Friday brought the surprisingly easy process of registering for classes. The only hard 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.

September 2 lunch
Lunch with a view of the Duomo! 

That evening brought 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, so 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 incredible I can hardly even describe it.

Piazzele Michelangelo
My roommate, host brother, his 5-month-old puppy Winston, and me at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

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 also 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

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