Rachel is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Business Administration major at Merrimack College, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Rachel tells us about her flight to Florence and lists 7 ways to remain calm upon arrival in your host city.
Ciao!! I have finally landed in Italia and I am taken back with all the beauty I am surrounded by. This past week has been crazy and at times overwhelming, but it already has been truly amazing! Being in Florence for a week, I have learned how to adjust to unplanned circumstances and to make the best out of situations. When first arriving at the Florence Airport I found out that my luggage was unfortunately still in Amsterdam (where I connected from).
Leaving JFK airport!
At first I panicked because not having my luggage arrive was actually the one thing I was VERY nervous about. I had to file a claim at the airport and come back to receive it the next day. Although this was definitely frustrating I was reminded about how amazing it was to even have this opportunity to be in Florence. I was immediately welcomed by CAPA staff which helped me calm my initial nerves and then a group of us were put into a taxi to check out our homes for the next four months!
As I arrived in my apartment I was a bit overwhelmed because I was just meeting my roommate for the first time, did not have service on my phone (millennial problems), did not have my luggage, and on top of everything I was very exhausted. But despite feeling so uncomfortable and honestly thinking about wanting to go home…I tried to remain positive. Not being able to unpack and getting settled in really threw me off and I had to readjust my plan. I am not writing this to complain, but rather to let others know that not having your luggage or feeling really homesick the first couple days is completely normal!!
In fact, the next day I asked others if they felt that way too and most of my friends did as well. I can now truly say that each day has been a learning experience here and I am completely in love with Florence! I have met so many friends through CAPA, I love my roommates, and I have eating the BEST food!! So don't panic when having the first initial shock but rather here are some tips to make it through and remain calm upon arrival!!
1. Ask your roommates if they want to go for a walk
Exploring the city on the first day and getting out of the house definitely helps with the first initial, "OMG, I'm actually here" thoughts. Also you will be taken back by how gorgeous this city is!
2. Go get your SIM card if you don't have service
I found a place called TIM. There are a bunch around in Florence. They offer a good deal for 20 Euros starting price (around $27 USD) for cellular data and then after that 10 Euros a month. They also have another plan that includes texting but if you have an iPhone you will be able to message and FaceTime by just using cellular data. Also to save data I put my phone on airplane mode and connect to Wi-Fi at places that have it.
3. Go out for food
After a long day of traveling you're not only tired but very hungry, having some food in your system will definitely help with your mood. Try to order in Italian—locals love to see you putting in the effort!
4. Get some sleep
The first couple of days you may be extremely jet lagged and just trying to readjust. Taking naps and going to bed early the first week definitely helps.
Florence at night.
5. Don't stress
PSA: You are not alone. Remember you are not the only one feeling this way.
6. Talk to as many people as you can at CAPA orientation
CAPA orientation is a great way to branch out and meet people from other schools. Having familiar faces throughout the program makes being in a country a little less scary.
7. Go to CAPA events
CAPA plans many events throughout the semester so make sure you attend them; they are a great way to explore the city! During orientation CAPA took students around on a tour of Florence to show everyone how to get around and this was extremely helpful. Knowing landmarks and where you are the first couple days will make you feel a lot better. Also the street signs are very confusing and you don't want to be looking down at your phone the whole time.
I am having such an amazing time and can't wait to continue more of my adventures!!
Rachel's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.