Sunday, September 4, 2016

Initial Musings

Hey there, friend.

Something hit me this afternoon while lounging around this quintessentially Italian apartment, my home for the next three months: I've been here for only eight days. And, to be honest, it feels like a lot longer. Both good, and bad.

Traveling from California to Europe is hard. After an eleven-hour flight to Paris, I had a six hour layover in CDG before boarding another flight to Florence. By the time I could see the town from my window seat, it was around 7 P.M., and the city center and surrounding hills were bathed in this ethereal golden light. It was beautiful, and, in that moment, I had never felt more excited to live in a place so in line with my academic interests and love of pasta.

Of course, reality has hit. I am living in a non-air conditioned home with two (lovely) Italians who speak absolutely no English (keep in mind, I speak no Italian). I cannot find a large iced coffee anywhere (or pancakes, crispy bacon, hot dogs, and avocado toast). Hot water for showers is limited, at best. It was 90 degrees today. I have more than ten mosquito bites (really, the mosquitos here are vicious). I really miss my cat, and my parents, and my friends. 

It's frustrating to me that so many students who study abroad present their experience as a glossy, seamless transition into an entirely different cultural world; the glaring absence of hardship is frankly disappointing. Yes, living in Europe is a dream come true. But, I think failing to at least acknowledge these discomforts - those little things that make us miss home - is almost failing to adjust to life in Europe. 

That's not to say I am not adjusting. In fact, I have had the pleasure of experiencing some absolutely unreal things in just a week's time.

Within 170 hours of arriving in Florence, I have marveled at dresses in Museo Gucci, eaten pasta at Hotel Savoy's outdoor restaurant whilst overlooking a golden-cast Piazza della Republica, picked up succulents at the Via Pellicceria flower markets with Angelica, spent too much time at the Four Seasons Firenze (roaming their gardens, ordering iced tea, hammocking), indulged in more than a few gelato cones, chuckled with Italian waiters at 4 Leoni about our bad Italian, explored the markets and vistas and churches of Fiesole, played cards with  Martina - the six-year-old granddaughter of our host family - on our dimly lit patio, and drank big, full glasses of prosecco with Angelica in our pajamas at a smoky, outdoor patio bar near Piazza Della Libertá.

While just a collection of small moments, these experiences have made this frankly difficult adjustment worth it.

So, as I write this on the eve of a new semester of school, here's to bracing adjustment, very small espressos, and primi piatti.


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