Payton Meyer is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Strategic Communication major at University of Colorado Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Payton recalls the obstacles she faced on her way to Florence and shares how she overcame them and arrive for orientation.
I’m finally starting to settle in to my new home here after arriving in Italy late Friday night. I’m writing this from the kitchen table in my quaint 3rd floor apartment that’s just 5 minutes from the train station, and about a 20-minute scenic walk to the CAPA Florence center. Florence is even more breathtaking than I imagined it would be, and I absolutely love my apartment and all 6 of my flatmates, but getting to this point wasn’t so easy.
I made a few little stops in both Iceland and London before arriving in Italy for the semester, resulting in me arriving very late at night, rather than during the day as CAPA had wanted us to do. The CAPA Florence staff was very understanding and helpful when I told them this, and planned to check me in the next morning, before our 10am orientation. I thought I would just take the 8:05am train from Rosano, where I stayed with my parents in a medieval countryside Airbnb, and arrive in Florence at 8:45am, at which point I would take a taxi over to CAPA and get my apartment keys so I could drop my luggage off and head back over for the CAPA orientation. My journey into Florence, however, did not go exactly as planned.
The train ride into the the Firenze Santa Maria Novella station was pleasant, and got me thinking about how excited I was to finally get there. When I got off the train and started dragging my 50-pound luggage down the big staircase into the city—something that will probably be routine for me by the end of the semester (but hopefully with smaller bags!)—I checked to make sure that all of my personal belongings had made it this far with me. My phone, which contained the address to CAPA, my roommates' phone numbers, and all my photos containing memories of my time in Europe thus far, had not. I panicked, thinking that someone, somehow, must have slipped it out of my purse, despite how vigilant I had been. However, I quickly realized that I had just entered the city, and hadn’t been in close enough proximity to anyone for them to have pickpocketed me. I left my phone on the train. I ran back into the train station as fast as a girl with everything she owns in one giant suitcase could, approached one of the security guards, and explained the situation. He was extremely helpful, and led me to the conductor of the train, which thankfully hadn’t left yet, so that he could unlock the doors for me. The train conductor was equally as kind, and unlocked every train car one by one as I scanned for my phone, which luckily turned up after the 4th car or so. Of course I was ecstatic, as I thought that I had already lost something extremely valuable that I needed in order to get to CAPA before even stepping foot on the cobblestone, but the elation faded as soon as I unlocked the screen and saw the time.
It was 9:35, so the time I had set aside to check in before orientation was running out. I figured I would just start walking, hail the first cab that I came across, and be there in 10 minutes tops. Little did I know, getting a taxi in Florence is a whole different ball game than getting one in NYC. I wondered why every cab driver that drove by as I waved at them shook their heads and wagged their fingers at me, until one of them realized that I clearly had no idea what I was doing and let me know that I had to go to the taxi pick-up spot back by the train station that I had strayed pretty far from by then. My bag was feeling particularly heavy, and I decided to keep walking and head towards CAPA rather than backtrack for a cab that I later learned wouldn’t even have accepted my credit card. The 25-minute walk to CAPA was long, hot, and a little too bumpy for a suitcase with wheels. I arrived to CAPA 7 minutes late, with all of my luggage and out of breath. I was greeted by one of the staff members, Valentina, who helped me bring my bags up the stairs to the classrooms, gave me some water, and offered me a ride over to my apartment so I could rest and settle in, rather than sitting through a few hours of orientation after the morning I had just had.
I chose to attend the orientation that I had been through quite a bit in the last hour to make it to. My roommates had saved a seat for me, and it was nice to finally meet them, even if it was in the middle of a detailed explanation of the attendance policy. The orientation included a walking tour of our new home that made me forget about my stressful morning and start to soak in this new experience.
The rest of my first day in this amazing city went much more smoothly, and although I got off to a bit of a rough start, it could have been much worse, and I am really, really thankful to be here. I had my first class today, Beginning Oil Painting, and needless to say I could not be more excited for what CAPA has in store for us this semester, and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
Payton's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.