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My Semester Abroad: Eating historically

September 11

Longest day to date

I don’t know if it’s the wine or if the bugs everywhere hate me because I waoke up with four enormous mosquito bites on my arms. Enormous as in people kept commenting on how large they are as if I already don’t have an anxious need to itch them. On top of that, I have the longest day of my life today. Starting with the 8 a.m. ever-so necessary passport confirmation meeting that took literally five minutes then to Italian class…until 4:30 p.m..

Hungover, I am the least bit excited to tune in to my Italian alter ego who I have silently named Genevra… named after my super cool 16-year-old roommate! After Italian we all go to Art History where we listen to our professor who, I am relieved to find out, is American. She lives in Florence, teaching students about the amazing and beautiful history of the city… with her Italian husband. Can you say living the dream!?

Our Italian Food class comes next. We have our introduction day and nonchalantly enjoy some copernico (sheep’s milk) cheese with three different types of bread. I can’t believe this is a class. We get to look forward to a chocolate day where we do nothing but learn about and eat chocolate – I bet you that’ll be a hard day, along with all of the other days of stuffing my face! Dreading my next class, Wine in Italian Culture, I walk downstairs to find wine glasses waiting patiently for my lips to imprint on them. Presecco: sparkling white wine from Italy. I am not overwhelmed but I am extremely satisfied with my course load.

To almost close my day, dinner is served after my roommates and I take a much needed three-hour nap. Dinner is AMAZING. First course, mushroom soup. Second course, involtini (bacon wrapped around creamy cheese). Third course, arrosto (blocks of potatoes cooked in the oven with rosemary, olive oil and garlic). SO good. Molto bene!

I don’t finish my day with just that either. Taking about an hour break after dinner, we decide it’d a good idea to get waffles con Nutella again. My dreams will be filled with chocolaty wonders and goodness tonight!

September 12
Historically Full

I wake up with three large mosquito bites on the left side of my face this morning. No big deal.

Fabulous meal at my host mother’s restaurant tonight with my roommate. Starting off with red wine and conversation, I finished so satisfied that I didn’t stop talking about my meal all night. Swordfish Carpaccio, served with tomatoes and arugula as my first dish. My second plate was an Italian traditional dish, or as Guendalina would say, “You’re eating historically.” Peposo, a peppery and perfectly cooked bowl of meat stewed in Chianti wine. Putting my fork into one of the small-chunked pieces, the meat would immediately break. So tender. Not being able to really understand Guendalina’s story behind the dish, I relied on Google to re-tell the story for me. I indeed was eating historically.

Trying to shut my mouth about the amazing meal at Guendalina’s Osteria on Via San. Niccollo, my roommate and I met up with the other girls to test out a beer we heard plenty about: Dragoon beer. Two glasses and I was good for the night! 

September 13
Happy Birthday Mom!

The loud Italians yelling outside of our window at the wee hours of the morning luckily didn’t wake me up nor did I hear the construction being done at the Café across the street. My ear-buds worked like a charm, along with making the decision to actually close our windows entirely last night.

Today has been, of course, a pleasant day. What made today different than the rest was our visit to the Uffizi Museum located near the Palazzo Vecchio, also near where I live. Such an amazing day. Staring into historical pieces of art, my focus was mainly on the many interpretations of The Madonna and Child. From Sienese to Florentine artists, these pieces were exceptional and uniquely different. I stood in awe at every piece we stopped to discuss. Luckily we get to go back again soon with our professor to see hopefully a lot more of the Uffizi. Its also a good thing I live close, I already have my next rainy day planned.

Now I have to be a real person, shut my windows and contain myself from looking at my Florence pictures to concentrate… homework time. Luckily this event took nearly 25 minutes. So we went out, I put my funky wedge boots on and the night was ours. Starting at Moyo for a happy hour burger and margarita, my two friends and I have some girl talk. Noticing the handsome Italian guys staring at us, we felt a bit violated by the excessive amount of turning heads and flashing eyes….so we left and walked to a bar were we meet our other friends at Kiyoko’s for dragoon beer. This beer is the perfect pregame drink. Of course I’m always nervous about getting too full but I’m all pregamed out by the second glass — perfect, tasty and cheap. OH and free popcorn. My friend ate so much of it, the sever just brought the entire bowl over. (Shout out to Camrin who enjoys the Pony-pop.)

Remember the Italian guys from Moyo? Yeaaaaaah, so they came to the bar where we were. Making friends with them fast and immediately understanding the kindness they were sharing was as genuine as genuine gets — the rest of the night’s events was such a mess but it was still a great night. They took myself and five other friends to an exclusive (and reportedly famous) club at the Piazza de Michelangelo. First of all, if you are ever in Florence this is a must see. It was an absolutely breathtaking place to see the entire city of Florence. Nighttime, sunrise, sunset — whatever, just go!

Set off to the side of the Piazza is this exclusive club called “Flo.” Pretty sexy scene. Hot cars, hot people, bouncers everywhere. We were excited to get into the club with our newfound friends, but they calmly explain to us to keep our composure when entering the club entrance. Unfortunately for one of our friends, she couldn’t get in. They required IDs, which isn’t so different from New York City nightclubs; because we are foreigners, we need to show our passports. My friend didn’t bring her passport or a copy of it with her. It was a mess — I of course couldn’t believe they wouldn’t let a clearly over the legal drinking age girl into this club. Frustrated and pretty pissed, we taxied it home and called it a night. We’ll be going back there though.

September 14
Shower Diaries

I think today is a good day to mention the bathroom situation here. (Please know that this is not a complaint, just a description so that everyone can get an idea of what I go through on a daily basis!) Picture a small squared shower, similar to a cruise ship shower.  Key word: small. Now, understand that isn’t the problem. Hot water is a luxury while living in my specific house. The shower here has no in-between temperature, just steaming hot, boiling hot, first-degree burn hot water or freezing cold water. If I’m lucky I get two to three minutes of the just right type of showering water. Don’t get me wrong, I can deal with the extreme cold temperature now while it’s 70 and 80 degree weather. When the weather drops, I pray that I am not taking decongestant medicine every day.

September 15
Speechless in Siena

Too much to write down — just go to Siena! My jaw was dropped after leaving Duomo there in Siena. This was one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever encountered. This is what I wrote down in my iPhone right after I left the Duomo:

That is only a little bit of it — I don’t even understand half of the notes I typed that day. I just remember the feeling of not knowing how to translate my thoughts; that’s how speechless Siena made me.

September 17
China in Italy

After an early morning of classes, an unsuccessful trip to the San Lorenzo market, and an amazing lunch at some random hidden café we found, my throat hurts and a nap is a necessary activity. The lunch is noteworthy though. I ordered a salad with grilled marinated vegetables of green beans, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower and peppers, mozzarella, and ham; it was perfect. I’ve been searching for a salad like that for a while and am happy I finally found a place with some variety of salad dishes, other than the same old “caprese.” So back to via lambertesca, our host family’s street, for some rejuvenation. Four hours go by while I lie dreaming. It was one of the greatest naps I’ve ever had. Guendalina walked into our room and told us, “We’re ordering Chinese tonight.” Seriously perfect. What an essential part of a normal sick day for me: wonton soup, spring rolls, and a chicken with curry.

I always have to remind myself there’s Italian food in Italy, not American — so it’s Chinese food in Italy. No creamy curry sauce, just rice with seasoned curry.

It was delicious.


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