In this week's post, Connor highlights a CAPA Florence program called 'FriendMe' in which local high school students from Florence meet with CAPA students and swap stories about what it's like to growing up in Italy vs the US.
Ciao! I just got back to my flat from one of the best experiences I have had so far while studying abroad. Set up by CAPA, I was able to meet and hangout with local Florentine high school students with my peers. The program is called 'FriendMe'. This was an amazing way to meet locals around my age and make new friends.
I was initially kind of nervous about the program. I did not know what I had in common with students from Florence. I know very limited Italian so I did not even know if we would be able to understand and talk to each other. However, these concerns went away very quickly.
CAPA students and Florence students meeting each other for the first time!
After being introduced to 2 Florence students, Daniele and Fabio, we immediately started talking and learning about each other. I found out that we listened to the same music, play the same sports, and even watch the same TV shows. They also were able to tell me more about the city and places I should go. They gave me restaurants to try and local cafés that they like to go to.
Writing down their recommendations of restaurants to try.
Both of them spoke fluent English so there was no language barrier. They tried to teach me some new Italian phrases as well. I taught them about life in the United States and how it has differed so far from living in Florence. They were extremely interested in learning more about The States. They wanted to know about the schools, athletics, and social life. After talking about life in The States and Italy, we found there was a lot of differences and similarities. One big difference for Fabio and Daniele is their school system. Daniele and Fabio both attend school 6 days a week. They go for about 5 hours a day Monday-Saturday. This was much different from what I had in High School, where I went 5 days a week for about 7 hours. They both said they liked going 6 days a week and thought it was better to get out of class earlier each day. One major similarity we had was music. Most of the artists and songs they listened to were the same as me and what is popular in the U.S. Some of their favorite artists included Ed Sheeran, Eminem, and Drake. They said that they liked Italian music as well but listened to American music more often.
Meeting more people and exchanging numbers.
We talked for an hour straight until joining other groups to meet even more people. After an hour and a half, we all exchanged contact information and made plans to meet up later in the week. It was a great experience and I was able to learn so much. Since Florence as such a high percentage of tourists, it can be difficult to meet locals. This was an easy way to meet local students and make new friends. One of the main reasons I wanted to study abroad was to meet new people and experience different cultures. FriendMe was the perfect thing to try. I recommend anyone who is studying abroad with CAPA to try it. I am so excited to meet up with my new friends again and am ready for the next FriendMe event where I can meet even more local students.
Farewell photo of everyone at the end of program. Until we meet again!
Connor McGlone is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing and Supply Chain Management major at University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
Connor's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.