I have now officially been in Italy for one week and have made so many friends here as well on my way to Italy. At O’hare, I met four other UW students and it turned out that one of them is in my program. It was really nice to have him while we waited in the London airport for almost six hours. When we arrived at the airport in Italy, we went through passport control and got our bags. After getting our bags we thought we had to go through customs so we just kept walking which led us to the outside of the airport. We kept thinking that we missed customs or something but apparently they just do not have that in Italy. A person from CET met us at the airport and put us in a taxi (by ourselves). This was an interesting ride as neither of spoke much Italian and the driver had no clue where he was going. He ended up leaving us somewhere that was relatively close to our villa but pretty far when you have to carry three bags of luggage. Not to mention the concept of a smooth sidewalk is truly just a concept here. The villa we are staying in was built in the 16th century and does not have the same type of heat that I am use to back home. There have been several very cold nights and I am glad that I took three blankets off of the airplane.
Last Friday, we went in to Firenze(Florence) and climbed to the top of the Doumo. That climb was over 600 steps; as somebody who is afraid of heights I am proud of myself for making it. The climb seemed liked it took forever but the view made every step worth while. We had lunch at this super cute panini place not too far from the Doumo called Pino’s. We all ordered different things so that we could try each others panini’s; well other people did this but me being the picky eater that I am stuck to my fromagi(cheese) panini. Once we finished lunch, it was time for the moment I had been waiting for since arriving in Italy: GELATO! I have learned some very important lessons about gelato during my week here. The first being look at the banana gelato if it is yellow: leave ASAP and find a place with banana gelato that is white. The second, if the gelato is in covered tins it means that it was made at that store and should be amazing. Of course, I had to get the chocolate gelato and it was amazing.
Saturday, we went to the local market where I stumbled upon my favorite food from back home, chicken wings. I was so ecstatic to have chicken wings; I was feeling a little sad on Thursday when I was not able to go to Bdubs for Wings Night but this made up for it. Communicating with the lady in the food truck was interesting… Huy and I went together; Huy orders wings and then gives the lady his money but in the meantime I order some french fries. This must have confused her because she charged Huy for both things and we had no idea what to tell her. They also had a huge variety of fried food but we had no idea what she was telling us. Everybody here in Sesto has been super nice and extremely understanding of our lack of knowledge of Italian. People have given us recommendations on where to go to get food. We meet people every where we go and it is amazing.
Half of the group decided to go to Pisa on Sunday to see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. I never realized how much it was leaning or that it is structurally sound. You can a buy a ticket to go to the top of the tower. We took some cliche photos of us holding it up or pushing it over. After a few minutes of looking around at people, I realized how insane and stupid we all looked so then I started taking pictures of people pretending to hold it up. Those are some of my favorite pictures from the trip thus far.
We started our classes on Monday and I was really glad to finally get a set schedule. I think I am going to enjoy all of my classes. It is really nice only having at most 14 people in a class. My classes range in size from 3-14 most of them having about nine students in them. On Tuesdays, I take International Business Management in Florence getting there is quite the adventure. Yesterday there was a protest in Florence causing the students who have to go in the morning to be an hour late for their class. Not wanting to be late for class we left extremely early but we were still late only by 10 minutes though. We have to take a bus to the train station and from there we have to walk about a half hour. The directions we got to the place were go to the river and when you see green scaffolding cross the bridge. These actually turned out to be really good directions for as vague as they seemed when we left Sesto. This place is so magical not to mention the fact that I basically live in a palace. I have truly been enjoying my time in Italy and do not want to leave.