I have now had my first full day in Florence. Managed to find my way around,* buy food, exercise my smattering of the Italian (“where’s the park,” ‘cuz I’m a badass and that’s the sort of question I ask), and I even avoided setting my laptop on fire,** so overall I’d say it was a pretty big success. Got to walk all over the place, found the aforementioned park right next to a whopping huge medieval fortress (which is Not Open to the public, the guard was most emphatic about that), and basically just spent all day walking around and window shopping and meeting other ACM students. In the evening all 30-ish students congregated and met the professors, and we were then taken out for dinner at a wonderful restaurant followed by gelato at an equally wonderful gelateria. The food was great, the people were (are) great, the nighttime walk through the city was great, and everything so far has just been fantastic.
At this point, it still feels like being on vacation. Which is fine, but also kind of annoying, because the fun of a semester-long stay is supposedly that you get to stop experiencing the fringes of a culture and get to wade in a little deeper, pushing past the tourist experience and becoming more like a resident. I know it’s going to take time (and maybe the real irritation is just having to live out of a suitcase), but bottom line is that I can’t wait to get classes going and to meet my roommate and my host family and start doing this up proper.
In the meantime, just going to sit back and appreciate that Florence still feels like such a natural fit. I was here for one day two years ago and developed an instant crush, so I already knew that I *liked* the place, but there’s a very big difference between passing through a town (“good heavens this is pretty”) and actually setting up to live there for a while (“god almighty why does everything suck”), so I was a little skeptical that the feeling could actually last. For the moment, though, most delighted to be able to say that this place still feels very much like a second home (maybe a third if we’re counting college), and that I’m pretty much all set to spend the first couple weeks walking around and grinning like an idiot at everything. So at the very least it is now a two-day fluke.
I feel like I haven’t really said any of the important things yet, but it’s getting late and we have to get up to start our Italian language course in the morning (\o/), so I guess we’ll call it a night there. Oh, but because there were actually a ton of people asking about comparisons between restaurants before I left, here’s what an Italian McDonald’s looks like:
First off, shut up, we went there because we were starving and it was really close and really cheap. Second, it was so fancy! You can’t see the lovely little lounge areas (innocent Italians eating deserve better than me and my camera), but that’s the inside of the McCafe in the second picture, and that low display window to the right is full of really excellent-looking pastries; Jessica and I both ended up ordering a plain water (acqua naturale and not acqua fizzante, the distinction is dangerous) and cream-filled croissants, and homg horror but I actually found a McDonald’s product delicious. Ah well : )
We start establishing schedules this week, so I’ll know pretty soon whether blogging close to every night is going to be an actually practicable thing. In the meantime, a big “love you” to all the people I wish were here with me, and be back when I can. Buonanotte ❤
* Knopf Map Guide, tell your friends.
**The whole voltage conversion thing between the U.S. and Europe is something I didn’t want to have to deal with, so I just ended up bringing my laptop (which swore itself to be dual voltage) and a cheap little outlet converter to make it fit the Italian three-prong plug-in. During the planning stages, this seemed like a solid set-up; iPod and camera should run through my laptop, travel alarm clock runs on batteries, I’ll buy a travel hair dryer if I feel like it, and nothing else needs power at all. BUT, since it does make me incredibly dependent on my laptop not dying (not that I wouldn’t have been anyway), I got a little twitchy over the idea that I might get everything hooked up only to have that crucial computer explode in my face and fall into agonized death throes; this did not happen, and all stress is now gone from my life.