Athena Study Abroad students share their experiences with amazing blogs.
My name is Kristen Thies and I am blogging to you from Florence, Italy! I have been here for about a week now and my roommates and I have been spending these past few days exploring Florence, getting settled into our apartment and adjusting to a new culture. It still seems so surreal that I am in Italy and I often find myself forgetting that I truly am in a different country. Yet, every time I step out onto the narrow cobblestone path, veer out of the way of a racing vespa and hear the melody of the surrounding "ciaos" and "buon giornos," I am warmly reminded that this renaissance city is not a dream.
I am living in a three bedroom apartment on Via Faenza with roommates from all over the states. We are all unique in our own ways, but we get along wonderfully and have been spending a lot of time together. Our first evening, we celebrated Hannah's birthday by getting slices pizza at a pizzeria and hanging out on the steps of the duomo. We felt like true Italians, soaking up the surrounding art and sounds of the city as the sun said its goodnight. I think this is one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad, you have the time to remove your tourist hat and actually take in and learn from the culture.
Yesterday, my roommates and I went on an adventure up to Fiesole. It was our first experience with the Italian bus system and besides having to run to catch the first bus and the small problem with one of us validating our ticket the wrong way, I think we did pretty well! We picked up a map of the city and went on our own little walking tour. We found one spot with a breathtaking view of Florence and the tuscany region and spent a lot of time taking pictures! We then spent the last 2 hours venturing through a church, monastery, cemetery and admiring the gardens and rolling hills. We topped our trip off with a refreshing cup of gelato and then headed home with very tired feet.
Classes will be starting tomorrow and I am very excited to get some structure into my schedule and learn more about Florence! I am taking Beginning Italian, Travel Photojournalism, Current Trend in Italian Cuisine, Ballet, and one more art class (either Expanding Creativity or Leonardo da Vinci: The Renaissance Genius at Work). I will definitely be giving you more updates about my classes as the weeks go by!
That's about it for now! We're getting ready to go out for a small shopping trip and then heading to watch the evening lantern processional by Santa Croce!
Please feel free to send me any questions you might have and I'd be happy to answer them!
Kristen Thies is from Upland, California. She attends Chapman University in Orange, California and is blogging about her study abroad experience in Florence, Italy.