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Saturday, February 6, 2016

first week recap {florence files}

4 full days in and it feels like I've been here a month.. in the best of ways.

For the first day, I walked around and felt like I was on a movie set in Hollywood. It still hasn't fully hit me that I'm not in the states, but after taking a day trip to Pisa with my roomie and conquering the Italian train/bus systems it's safe to say I'm hooked on Italy.

Everything here is just different enough to make you stop and question it, but not enough to make you feel completely uncomfortable. After 4 days of constantly pulling doors to open them (they're push over here) and trying to figure out how the heck to get into our apartment without soliciting the help of passerby's I'm finally getting the hang of it.

If I've learned anything it's that if you want the most out of your study abroad experience you have to change your perspective. This isn't a vacation, it's an experience. 

The italian people are SO genuine and friendly. I've struck up conversation with dozens just within the past few days. Talking to shop owners is definitely my favorite I'd have to say.

I'm currently having a custom leather jacket made here in Florence by a well known leather maker. Alex took the time to leave his stand at the leather market and take me to his shop. We entered a room filled wall to wall, floor to ceiling just with leather jackets. This leather had to be the softest and nicest quality leather I'd ever seen.. it actually felt like butter. I tried on 3 jackets to see what fit best and decided on a black color with an angled zip. The reason I opted for custom is because typically leather jackets are not made with gold zippers- they are almost always made with silver. Alex was nice enough to agree to customize a jacket since I prefer gold. After I decided on what I wanted we chatted for about 30 minutes just about leather and how to tell when you're being ripped off, what makes good quality leather, how it's made etc. I loved learning more about something that's not as notable in the states and getting to know a local italian more.

It is SO cold here and the wind is unforgiving. Americans causally just walk the streets in coats, but you can tell the Italians apart because they wear huge shawls over their jackets... and they look so stylish, chic, and warm in the process. So, my roommate Shelby and I decided it was time to invest in shawls for ourselves. We wandered into a little shop just up the road from our apartment and found an older Italian woman inside. She did not speak any English, but helped us select the best colors for our skin/hair color and style the shawls. The shawls are handmade by her and are all cashmere. We pieced together what little Italian we know and she did her best with some basic English as well. It was a conversation filled with hand gestures and pointing, but it was so rewarding to experience. It made me realize that even cultural and communication barriers don't phase the Italian people- they're just content sharing their craft and what they're passionate about. I also found it extremely refreshing to see so many people doing what they love to do and being successful at the same time.

My 'what I've learned' log thus far-

  1. Cucumbers over here are bitter
  2. Fresh pasta cooks in 30 seconds
  3. Italian law states that the heat can't be on longer than 12 hours in a day
  4. Those 1 and 2 euro coins can really add up
  5. The wine is dry and moscato is hard to come by
  6. When you do come by moscato it tastes like vodka and syrup
  7. Wine has a 12% alcohol content as opposed to the normal 5-7%
  8. So yes, it's fine to be tipsy off of a glass.
  9. Which happens frequently because wine is cheaper than water
  10. Longchamp bags are cheaper here- they'll run you $80 for a large one 
  11. Cobblestones are no joke
  12. Europeans rock the sporty sneaker with super dressy outfit look
  13. The phrase 'so Euro' has never been more relevant 
  14. Everyone speaks 2+ languages aka never felt more inadequate 
  15. Earplugs are a must to sleep because busy streets
  16. Packing a fuzzy blanket from home is something you'll never regret
  17. Europeans use less preservatives so they go to the grocery store every 2-3 days 
  18. Handles on toilets are like not a thing.. look for the button
  19. Essie nail polish is $18
  20. Garnier Fructis shampoo is $6 (for a small bottle...)
  21. Eggs aren't refrigerated 
  22. Train tickets are valid for any time within the day 
  23. You have to validate your train tickets by getting them stamped 
  24. Google maps is my best friend bc Italian streets are something suuuurious 

These 4 days have been such a whirlwind of new experiences, people, sights, and flavors and I cannot wait to immerse myself more in the rich and beautiful Italian culture.

So that's my first week y'all!! if you wanna see my fave pics of the week :) + stay tuned for a detail filled with my daily log of activities and our Pisa day trip!



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