Danya Carithers is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A marketing major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Danya talks about arriving in Florence, her accommodation for the semester and a few observations she's made in the city so far.
After 12 hours on a plane and a short taxi ride, I finally arrive at the beautiful apartment that I get to call home for the next three and a half months. I definitely scored when it came to housing. There are four bedrooms, one for each of my roommates and me, a kitchen stocked with any utensil we could ever need (even an espresso machine!), and the luxury of two bathrooms. Each room has huge windows and is uniquely furnished which makes me feel like I am truly living in an Italian apartment as opposed to an unwelcoming hotel or dorm room.
The next day, I wake up early and eager to see Florence in daylight for the first time. My roommates and I run out the door and attempt to find our way to L’Auditorium al Duomo for orientation. For those of you who have never been to Florence, let me tell you that the streets do not make very much sense. We probably make our way to every piazza except for the correct one (possibly exaggerating), but none of us mind because the city’s atmosphere is so extraordinary that it feels like a dream anyways.
CAPA then took us on a walking tour around the center of Florence. We weave through small cobblestone streets lined with restaurants you could smell from a block away and various designer stores such as Gucci, Chanel, Prada, and more. What I love most is the historical statues that surround the piazzas and are carved into buildings’ walls. I like to think of Florence as the perfect marriage between historic and modern culture – the old buildings and sculptures combined with modernized bars and street art gives Florence a striking character that I am eager to learn more about.
Later that night, my roommates and I decide to go shopping for food at the local grocery store called Co-op. Of all the places I went that day, I learned the most at the grocery store where I observed Italian people in their everyday life.
Here are three useful things I learned:
1. It is expected of you to use gloves when touching produce. After bagging your fruits or vegetables, you must weigh the items on a scale in order to print a priced sticker.
2. You have to pay for bags to hold your groceries, but most people just bring their own. California recently passed a similar law, so I am actually used to doing this anyways.
3. Lastly, I learned that Italians are not as apologetic as Americans are in their daily interactions. For example, if someone is in your way, you are not obliged to say excuse me or wait for them to move. From my observations, locals here are a lot more fast-paced and weave throughout each other without saying a word. It is not that they are rude or pushy, but rather have a mutual understanding that everyone is on their own time schedule and have a place to go. In fact, I really enjoy this custom and appreciate its efficiency in both time and communication.
Because I have only spent two days in Florence, I do not have any grasp of what this city is all about yet. But I do know that I will not only learn about another country’s way of life but more about myself as well.
Danya's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned!