First Week in Firenze
Hello, folks! I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in Florence for a little over a week now. I decided to wait to write until I finished my first day of classes so I could compare the orientation week to the beginning of class.
The first week in Florence is fun. You’re in a new city with an unlimited amount of things at your disclosure. No work, no school yet, just play. You may not realize it at first, but you are overwhelmed by the amount of things surrounding you. The food, culture, nightlife, language…you name it, you’re overwhelmed by it.
Being surrounded by a language you don’t know can be very frustrating. I highly recommend attempting to learn the basics of the Italian language before you come here. Try to take things slow. Take in the sites at a slow pace. There’s far too much surrounding you. Squeezing it in as soon as possible does not give the culture the credit it deserves. The buildings and works of art are breathtaking. I know you want to see it all, but save some for your next trip to Florence. You’ll notice as you’re walking down the street, there are a surprising amount of gelato and leather shops. No matter what, if you are female, someone will call after you saying “Ciao, bella!” and say that you’ve dropped their heart. Ignore them. At first it’s flattering, but after a few days, it gets old.
During the first week, you’ll have multiple guided tours. GO ON AS MANY AS YOU CAN! They will help you learn your way around and help avoid getting lost in the future. Chances are, you’ll still get lost a few times, but at least you’ll be able to recognize where you are, thanks to the tours. Unlike the U.S., Florence is not structured like a grid. The streets change names halfway through and they are set up in clusters of triangles. If you get lost, you will most likely always end up back at the Duomo. So make sure you always start your adventures there or at another very recognizable spot, such as the Ponte Vecchio. If you truly can’t find your way, don’t be afraid to ask. “Buon giorno/ Buona sera, non parlo Italiano. Parle Inglese?” If you don’t speak Italian, this is the best way to ask for something. Just recognizing the Italian language will show natives that you’re trying and you’ll gain their respect almost instantly. They will be more receptive to help you find your way if you begin your conversation with their language. Don’t be too proud to ask. If you don’t ask, chances are, you’ll become even more lost than you were before.
You’ll find out that as your classes start up, your night life slows down dramatically. Don’t worry, it’s not going to stop completely, but if your intentions upon arriving here were to party every night, then you’ll quickly find yourself burnt out and broke. Slow your roll. You have three months of weekends to partake in the nightlife and explore. Also, you’ll need an extra boost of energy to keep you going, whether it’s an extra cup of expresso or a midday nap. The nightlife in Florence is very different from in the States. You won’t even realize it, but some nights you’ll walk into your apartment and find out that it’s 4 a.m. The combination of staying up that late, walking everywhere and getting up for a 9 a.m. class will run you down. Don’t burn the candle at both ends. Try to keep a balance between going out, getting your school work done and getting up for early classes.
Remember to do as the Italians do and take things slow. Relax. Enjoy your life and your time in Firenze!
Liana Greene is studying abroad with API in Florence, Italy, and is a regular contributor to our Tumblr blog.
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