Hi collegiettes™! My name is Ashley Harnish and I am a HC member studying abroad for the summer.
I am studying abroad in Italy at the Florence University of the Arts. It is one of the best fine arts school in the country where I am taking Italian Language 1 and Florence Food and Culture Experience. On my journey over, I realized some major things I wish I did differently. It is really easy to get so excited that you do not double check your bags. Between the crazy long hour flights and ridiculous layovers in foreign fancy airports, it is really important to make sure that you are able to walk with your luggage easily. This is something I pesonally did not check before leaving Tampa.
Our first flight departed from Miami and landed in London, England. The flight was eight hours long and it went by pretty quickly. I watched a three hour-long movie (The Wolf of Wall Street) while I ate the dinner served to us and then napped for about three more hours. Some good things to do on a plane ride are listening to music or reading a book. These little things make flights a bit faster.
When we landed in London, the time difference caught up to me and I took a nap after eating some expensive omelet in Heathrow, England. After waiting around for five hours, we took a plane to Paris and then a connecting flight to Italy, reaching our final destination. The airport in Italy was so small that we had to get off the plane on the runway and there were only three luggage belts inside.
The hotel we stayed at overnight was adorable. It had everything we needed plus a complimentary champagne. The floor that the hotel was on had several rooms for the guests and one kitchen everyone could use. The Italian locals made us feel at home after a long day of traveling from the other side of the world. It was such a diferent experience than a hotel in America. Different in a good way because it is good to be exposed to situations like this.
The pizza here is fresh, affordable and at every corner of the crowded city. People walk in the streets where the cars attempt to get through and it just looks like chaos. When you are actually walking somewhere, sometimes walking on the street is the only option because the sidewalks are very small. People walk literally everywhere, which means toned legs ladies! This way of transportation may take longer, but it is so much easier and beneficial.
The kitchens here are set up very differently. The fridges are smaller and the freezers are pretty much an ice box. There is no dishwashing machine or pantry. The stove and oven are powered by gas, not electricity. These smaller kitchens make it hard to store a lot of food, so the people of Florence go shopping daily. Since the store is around the block from my Florence apartment, it is really easy to go shopping daily.
There is a gelato shop in every street. The prices range so I always look out for anything under two euro. There are two shops in Florence that have one euro cones, which is amazing! There is also a gelato shop that sells Sicilian gelato and it is the only one around. For my Florence Food and Culture Class, we are required to eat at seven different types of eating locations. From my professor’s suggestion, I can tell I will get to experience the best food places in Florence. So far I have tried three of her suggestions. Making progress in just five days!
When people say that pick-pocketing happens, they are not kidding. It happens more often to Americans because they are targeted. If you are aware of your personal belongings, then you should be fine.
So far Florence has been an unforgettable experience and if given the opportunity to travel abroad, you should definitely take it! There is still more to see and more places to go. This is just the beginning of my trip and I can’t wait to see what the next six weeks have in store for me.