Today was our Italian language placement exam at 9 AM. These past days have been full of wandering so today I finally got to learn the straight path from our apartment to the study center… It’s 1 mile but isn’t bad at all! I love it because I get to gaze lustfully like an idiot at all the pretty buildings and feel like I’m in a movie when I cross over the Ponte Vecchio bridge every morning! After the test, I headed over to a great little cafe in the same Piazza as our Study Center (Piazza Santa Spirito) and drank cappuccinos with a bunch of the other girls. I’m seriously loving how many friends I’ve made already and how much easier it’s becoming for me to talk to new people confidently. 3 days in and this is already changing me for the better!! Everyone on this program is really great and it’s cool to hear which UC everyone is from! (although 60-something% of the program is SB students, haha!) In our Piazza, there’s a daily local market that sells different things depending on the day/season – right now they’re selling lots of fruit (that’s always, though), shoes/sandals, clothing, and men’s boxers.
At 11:30 AM I had my academic orientation. It was a little boring and long since I already knew most of the info, but the academic coordinator is SO cool. I can’t wait to meet all of the teachers, because the one’s I’ve met so far are so lively, sweet, and genuinely care about how well you’re doing. My schedule is: Italian Language M-TH 9AM-12PM and Florence in Cinema M/W 2-3:30 PM. It won’t be that bad, but language program is very intensive so I’ll really need to buckle down on that. We’re fitting an entire year of Italian classes into 1 semester!
Now to the most important part of this post…. THIS PANINI CHANGED MY LIFE TODAY. And this was only my first panini here.. who knows if it’s even considered a “good” panini place?! It was seriously the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It’s this little local place by my school where you build your own/all-you-want for only 3 euro (2.50 euro with my student discount!!!) All of the ingredients are locally grown. And the sandwiches are BIG – I was starving and only finished 2/3 of it. I got Tuscan bread, dried tomato sauce, Sicilian sauce, smoked ham (REAL ham… like almost bacon), whole chunks of artichoke, eggplant, zucchine, mozzarella, and lettuce. And it was perfectly hot. Omg. See, this is why Zack needs to get on an Italian team ASAP and I have a reason to move here because sandwiches are an essential to life and my new standards pretty much rule out every single US sandwich. Here’s the menu and my glorious sandwich. If it doesn’t look good to you, 1) you’re weird 2) ignore the picture because I promise it was absolutely incredible.
After my love affair with my sandwich, I went out exploring on my own. My mission was to go find these two big gardens that are on my map (Giardino della Gherardesca and Giardino dei Semplici). They’re both a little while from my apartment but I figured they would be beautiful! I stopped in a cute park on the way where they had a playground and some really pretty paths. The buildings were also a lot nicer here. (pictures below). Then, I walked FOREVER in 30 different directions. The streets are really confusing here so it was a constant struggle between not wanting to look like a tourist by holding my map everywhere and saying screw it because I was completely lost. I finally found both gardens (I think?)… BUT I could NOT figure out how to get in for the life of me! So maybe you can’t go in without special access, I’ll have to check on that. Then I had to run some errands so I went completely in the opposite direction and then back to my apartment. So all in all, I’ve walked about 6 miles today. My delicate california feet that ride a bike everywhere and live in flip flops HURT. Here’s some pictures from the park/just exploring around. (click for a bigger view)
Tonight I’m just going to hang out with my roommates and maybe get some gelato – we have our first day of class tomorrow and I have to be there at 8:30 so it’ll be nice to finally rest up again. Last night we went a cool pub and got some really strong beers (it’s cool being legal here), but i ditched out on the rest of the bars because I was a zombie!
PS. There’s a lot of little habits of mine that I’m having to adjust here. There’s actually too many, but for example, I can’t exactly always be my friendly smiley self to strangers! 95% of the Italians I’ve met have been wonderful and so friendly, but the men who are outside their stores (especially in tourist areas) are SO EXTREMELY persistent. You can’t make eye contact. You can’t reply to them. Or else they will be practically chasing you down trying to get you to come back and they just keep yelling for you as you walk away. UGHHHH plus I don’t know what they’re saying so it sounds rude and scary (it’s probably not though, haha!)
PPS. These ladies came up to me today and spoke Italian and I think they were asking for directions. Soooooo… I’m hoping this means they thought I was Italian which means I mastered the Italian look today 😉
Have a good night!Click here to see more of today’s pictures on my facebook! (scroll to the bottom)