Day 1: Errands and Exploring Florence

Jet lag

Orientation started at 8:30a and no one was even there to open the theater until 8:35. The presentation started at 9:15a and two of the guest speakers failed to show. This proves that everything in Italy is slightly more laid back than the usual fast pace of America. Nonetheless, we learned a couple things about health, safety and our schedules for the rest of orientation.

Errands/Exploring

After, we went over to see Noa’s apartment which is in a very fancy part of town. Her building was undoubtedly nicer than ours so I’ll want to visit there often!

We ventured off to find a phone plan at Vodafone but was ultimately disappointed by the plans available – they were a little expensive for what you got. But, the phone store was right across the street from Eataly which is awesome! Seemed like a piece of home even though the store in Chicago is actually a piece of Italy.

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Cup of chocolate sauce

After failing to get the phone it was around noon and we hadn’t eaten – so we were pretty desperate. After circling around lost for a few blocks we just settled on a small café. They didn’t have many options and it was not great because I think we were too close to the main tourist attractions. The best part was that they gave us complimentary desserts and a friend ordered hot chocolate which ended up being hot fudge in a glass cup – we all had to help her drink some of it because the workers kept coming by to make sure we were enjoying our food and she was embarrassed to leave a full cup.

We went back to our apartment to make a game plan and research more phone carrier options. We found a place called “Tre” (3) that was right next to Eataly too and they seemed to have a better SIM card plan. It seems too good to be true! I get 9GB of data, 400mins, 400 texts, and 500 international minutes for 15 euro a month! The worker there was very helpful and patient with us as we bought the SIM cards and asked questions.

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Getting stuck outside the apartment

The SIM card group hurried back to the apartment because
our landlord was supposed to meet us. She ended up being a little late (obviously) but she taught us all of the important things about the apartment – most importantly how to use the keys! Hours before meeting her, all of the roommates were stuck out of the apartment for probably ten minutes messing around with the many locks and keys. So, by the time we met the landlord we were pros with the keys.

Continuing on with this busy day, we headed to one of the school buildings to pick up a roommates lost luggage and file for our “Permit of Stay”. The permit of stay seems kind of like an excuse for them to take more money from us. The actual permit is only about 60 euro but they charged us 50 euro as a fee for helping us file the paperwork… kind of bogus if you ask me.

Next, it was time to get groceries. We have already spent too much on eating out. There is a grocery store around the block from us which is literally a hole in the wall. It was so narrow but went wayyyyyy back and had everything you would need. It was also SO cheap! I paid less than 50 cents each for a head of broccoli, bag of carrots and a bag of apples. Everything else was also a great deal but I was most surprised about how inexpensive produce was. Something that we learned the hard way was that after you bag the produce, you must go weigh it and print a sticker for the bag before getting in line. The check out lady was getting so frustrated with us because all 6 roommates were unaware of this process.

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Leather markets covering up from the rain

The apartment started to feel like home when we filled it with food, wine and music while cooking a simple dinner together. It was pasta with different kinds of red sauce and roasted vegetables. Simple, but cheap and delicious!

First night out

We hung out around the apartment for a couple hours and I really got to know two of the roommates better over another glass of wine. I initially was feeling tired around 11 but was convinced to go out to a casual bar called “Arte bar”. I am so happy I gave into peer pressure this time! We got to walk around and explore different areas of the city when there were less people around. We finally made it to walk along the river as we tried to find the bar. It was another hole in the wall with less than ten tables. But this place was seriously awesome. Everything in the bar was made fresh and our drinks took about 30 minutes. My Moscow Mule came without ginger beer because they used fresh ginger and didn’t want to use artificial flavor. It had spiralized cucumber, dried candied ginger as well as freshly cut and candied ginger, lime and mint leaves in it. The other girls ordered fruity drinks and they came out with fruit overflowing them! On the way out, the bar tender who was an older gentleman, asked us where we were from and then said if we could answer his questions we would get a free shot! This man knew so much U.S. trivia it really put us to shame. Casey was the only one who could answer his questions but he ended up giving us all a shot of amaretto. The perfect way to end a busy day.

Last minute thoughts

We started the day clinging onto each other and mapping directions just for a few blocks. By night, we winged it to find the bar and only had to pull out our phones when we were a few blocks away! We also made use of some googled Italian phrases and worked on our pronunciation. I am proud of our group of roommates for finally getting our shit together and not being one of those groups of American girls…or at least on the right track.

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