Firenze per Fortuna, Dopo della Partenza Lungha 9/5—9/7
Benvenuti a Firenze!
I’ve been hearing that a lot for the past 48 hours, and now I can safely say it to you readers as well. After quite a long trip between planes, trains, and poker games (my travel buddy/roommate, Kelly, and I, turned many a boring hour into eventful games of rummy and briscola), we’re finally in Firenze and almost completely settled. It was a long journey to get to this point; an emotion departure from family and the USA from JFK airport after a three hour car ride from my house outside of Boston, followed by a six and a half our flight over the ocean to Frankfurt, then, after a five hour layover in Frankfurt and meeting some awesome, amazingly friendly people from college such as Emory, Bucknell, and McAllister (and new Cuse peeps, too!), a short flight to Nice, France, finally ending with six hour bus ride along the French Riveria and Italian coast to Firenze, stopping only for a bit to grab food at an Autogrill.*
At the time of writing this, I was running on about three hours of sleep total from my day of travel and the short bit of sleep I got once arriving to the Hotel Mediterreano early this morning. Today was a day of orientation overload, but it was productive because we were able to get many of the much needed things out of the way. The permesso di soggiorno process is up and running, my computer is connected to the Villa Rossa wi-fi (although it’s spotty, but it’s to be expected in a place like Firenze), my Wind phone is charged up and powered with about 50 euro, and I was able to hear my mother’s voice—finally. I was getting antsy only being able to text my family.
Speaking of family, that is one of the things yet to be discovered—the host family Kelly and I will be living with. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much after tonight’s hilarious Q&A with SUF faculty and host families. All the host families who were there to welcome us were so fun, warm, and welcoming. One middle-aged couple, the wife, started introducing her family by saying, “Ciao, we have a family of four persons, and we are loud.” She also said students have gotten nervous hearing her and her husband “talk” about what to have for dinner that night or the next. In my mind, I was thinking, “That’s what my family does all the time! The sassy, nearly argumentative discussion of, ‘What’s for dinner?’”
The most peculiar thing happened during the Q&A for me; it hit me how much my family’s culture sticks to typical Italian culture. Sure, we’re Americanized in many ways, there’s no doubt about it, but after hearing the host families and the faculty explain the rules and typical customs of a traditional Italian family, I found myself nodding and agreeing more than giving blank stares or question-marked faces to my friends. It was a true reminder for me that America has such a different family culture than Italy, and my family has stuck to many of the Italian traditions that this kind of living, while it will be an adjustment with new people and experiences, will not be so much of a culture shock to me. I could tell it shocked many students to hear that dinner will most often be an hour-and-a-half to a two-hour affair because Italians use dinner as a social time to talk and spend time with each other. It shocked students to hear that Italians don’t normally snack in the middle of the night if they have a hungry urge, and it would most likely not be allowed in host family houses. It shocked students to hear that Italians, more often than not, clean their plates at dinnertime and don’t like to leave food to go to waste.
Many of these shockers are about food, but the conversation and questions quickly turned to food as more and more students started asking questions pertaining to the differences between Italian and American food culture. The director of SUF, NAME, explained simply into her microphone that food in Italy is just as important to the culture as religion, or spending time with friends, or any other great force of identification groups of people have to make connections between each other. It made me really question my relationship with food, as complicated as it is, in the context of Italian culture. But that’s a whole other topic, for a whole different kind of blog, hah.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow, having a little more free time, meeting the faculty an some of our future professors, and finally meeting our new family! I’m also not adverse to settling down for real and getting most of my stuff out of two suitcases. I think once we get settled and orientation dies down, we’ll all be in much higher spirits, and have more energy! But, you know, considering the high levels of spirit we all have shown thus far, I can only imagine the fun times to come in the future.
Buona notte. Sogni d’oro.**
*The Autogrill was a highlight of the bus ride, because the roadside chain brings back nostalgic memories of family travel for me, but also because the caprese panini and gianduja chocolate I had were just the right pick-me-up after such a long journey. The Autogrill was only out-shined by our new friend, Peter, falling out of his seat in the middle of his deep sleep. If he’s reading this, I apologize, but I had to mention it, because like we said before, it will never get old.
**I also apologize about not having a photo for this post. With all the moving in between campus and hotels, and luggage being transferred from one place to another, my Nikon D40 has been neglected. Soon to change!