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.
In this week's post, Connor sets off on his first day in Florence through a CAPA orientation and tour of the historic city.
Arriving at the CAPA center on the day of my arrival in Florence was surreal. After the exhausting travel and long hours on the plane I was finally in Florence and ready to start my journey. The CAPA building looked beautiful and the CAPA staff greeted me with open arms; they made me feel right at home immediately.
On orientation day I was able to find the CAPA Florence center from my apartment, which is a beautiful 10-minute walk passing countless markets, restaurants, and stores. The CAPA staff walked us through different tips for adjusting to living in a different country and being in a new environment. We discussed stereotypes American students get while in Italy, and how to avoid being a part of the negative ones. We want to be respectful to both the Italian people and culture while we are staying here.
We also learned about the Italian lifestyle and how it compares to Americans. For example, Italians tend to have dinner much later than Americans, and they often enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner but do not drink much more than that. All of these tips and facts were extremely useful and will help me throughout the semester as I live in Florence. Everyone from the CAPA Florence staff was incredibly nice and genuinely happy for all of us to start our semester. It is definitely comforting having such a supportive staff that I know I can go to whenever I have any questions or need any help about anything Florence.
The staff then gave us a tour around Florence. They took us to a sandwich shop right next to the CAPA center where I got my first Florence Panini. I ordered a bruschetta sandwich with mozzarella. It took me 3 attempts to successfully pronounce bruschetta and mozzarella with an Italian accent, but thanks to the help of Lorenzo, the CAPA Florence resident director, I think I finally have it down. I was surprised how employees in Italian stores help American students to speak Italian the correct way and are not impatient with us. All the people I have met here so far are extremely nice and helpful when it comes to any language barrier.
Valentina, the CAPA student affairs assistant showed us around the different historical sites of Florence. We were able to see the Duomo, the Florence Library, and where the original David sculpture stood. We also learned facts about Florence like how the city used to have medieval walls, and how high the Florence flood of 1966 was (buildings around Florence have a white marking to show how high the water went in that specific area). It was fun to be able to learn these facts firsthand about such a historic city while I was touring the city and being able to see all of these sites in person. It makes the city and buildings in it even more interesting when you know different stories behind it. I have already met some amazing people in the program who all are excited to explore such a great city. The first couple of days in Florence have been amazing, and I am so excited to continue my journey!
Connor's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.