Marte Eggleston is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism major at the Indiana University, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Marte shares her first impressions of Florence and tells us a bit about orientation!
To start off with complete honesty, I was not sure I was even going to make it to Florence by January 15th. I went through some classic travel misadventures and all hope may have been lost without my desire to actually make it to the country of Italy. The trials included a three-hour flight delay, which led to a missed connection, and finished off with almost not having a ticket on the re-scheduled flight to Florence. After it was all said and done, I thought it had been the longest day of my life, and I could not wait to crash in my new apartment, but then I realized where I really was: Florence, Italy. The tiredness has finally worn off after the past few days, but my awe of the city I get the privilege to live in has only grown in my short time here.
Landing at the airport on a clear, sunny afternoon allowed me to see the incredible view of the city nestled in between the hills, but what really sealed the deal was stumbling upon the massive work of art that is the Duomo. Seeing it for the first time was easily a “my mouth dropped wide open” moment. It honestly was the most beautiful piece of architecture I had ever seen!
From there the awe only continued. During our walking tour with CAPA, we were able to see more and more beautiful buildings and start to get to know our surroundings much better than before. I realized that the Duomo is actually only about ten minutes from the apartment; it helps to take the direct route rather than wandering aimlessly around. We have also been getting to know our neighborhood, and it offers anything that we could need: a 99-cent store, a real grocery store, and a gelato café. Obviously gelato is the most important.
Starting to feel comfortable in a completely foreign city is completely vital to getting over the initial shock. The first night is totally overwhelming and slightly concerning because you are secretly hoping that either you or one of your roommates knows how to get back to the apartment. Luckily, we all made it back. Plus seeing Florence in the daylight is definitely different than at night; everything looked less opposing and more welcoming.
Another big way to start to feel comfortable is to not say no to any opportunity. For instance, if you’re nervous about getting to know people, the best way to get over it is to get over yourself and start a conversation. Someone invites you to dinner: say yes. A group wants to explore the neighborhood: say yes. It is tempting to adjust by yourself and get some sleep, but I promise you will feel ten times better when classes start when you have talked to at least five other people. The only choice when you’re a million miles (roughly) away from the people you know is to talk to the person next to you; I promise it’ll help.
Marte's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.