100 Things Every Study Abroad Student in Florence Has Said

---Been there, said that!---

If you've studied abroad in Florence, I can almost guarantee that you've said at least one of these things, if not all 100.  Florence will always be every study abroad student's home away from home.

  1. I think we're lost...
  2. Oh my god, that gelato looks amazing.
  3. Wait, which way is the duomo?
  4. I want pizza for dinner.
  5. God, the pasta here is SO GOOD.
  6. Alright, where are we drinking tonight?
  7. Why does nobody here speak English?!
  8. Oh god, everyone here is speaking English...
  9. Why is dinner so late here?
  10. I need to call my mom.
  11. WHY IS NOTHING OPEN?!
  12. Pizza again for dinner?...yeah okay.
  13. Lets go drink in Piazzale Michelangelo tonight!
  14. Alright, we're definitely lost.
  15. Can you marry a country?
  16. What time is it back at home?  Can I post to Instagram yet?
  17. God, this coffee is so good.
  18. OK let's make a deal to go to the Uffizi next week.
  19. How is this Insta Caption? Have I posted too much this week?
  20. Let's start off at Lion's so we can get our free shots!
  21. Why is there no such thing as real breakfast here?
  22. I think I'm gonna stay in tonight...I really need to rest *get's dragged out by roommates 3 hours later*
  23. What time does our train leave?
  24. Can I have wine with lunch in between classes?  Suuure it'll be fine.
  25. UGH the workers are on strike...AGAIN.
  26. I still haven't been to the Academia yet...
  27. I don't think I can ever pasta again.
  28. Let's go ride on the Carousel!!
  29. *Names a Gelateria* is the best gelato I've had in my entire life.
  30. Do you think he's Italian or an Albanian? Also is he cute or am I just drunk? Ehhhh whatever.
  31. Ugh...can I have gniocchi two nights in a row, or is that too much?
  32. Oh wait, they're American, let's get them to take our picture.
  33. IT'S 4 AM!! IT'S TIME FOR SECRET BAKERY!
  34. Will you take a photo of me in front of *lists every historic monument in Italy*?
  35. Holy sh*t that was the best meal of my life.
  36. Let's try somewhere new tonight!
  37. Where should we travel to this weekend?
  38. Is this even really my life?
  39. I feel like I've gotten really good at math with never having split checks...
  40. Lets get a bottle of wine (or 2) and pregame on the Ponte Vecchio!
  41. More tour promoters...lets go this way instead!
  42. I need nachos and french fries STAT.
  43. What is up with the bathrooms here?
  44. I am NEVER drinking again *gets drunk at Uncle Jimmy's approximately 5 hours later*
  45. Another tour group...RUN!
  46. *trips on cobblestone* CAZZO...I think I just broke an ankle.
  47. Oooh that's SO pretty! Let me take a picture real quick.
  48. If one more person offers me a selfie stick I am going to take it and break it over their head.
  49. Wait, we only have a month left here!?!?
  50. How are Italian women so effortlessly beautiful and STYLISH?
  51. Oh god....I hooked up with a promoter last night....
  52. Let's go get fresh veggies at Mercato Centrale tomorrow.
  53. I think Piazza Santa Croce is my favorite. 
  54. Let's go get some Pino's!
  55. Lets go watch the sun set over the Ponte Vecchio!
  56. I need tacos!! Let's go to El Chicos!
  57. Do I look too American right now?
  58. Should I have a Negroni or a prosecco....what kind of night should tonight be?
  59. I don't have any cash, I'll need to stop at the ATM.
  60. Have you had Gusta Pizza yet?  It's amazing!
  61. Where is the closest gelateria to here? I'm on round 2 for today.
  62. Wow....look at that view!
  63. I'm going to call my sister...I miss home.
  64. OMG why is there no heat/AC ANYWHERE!?
  65. How do you say *Let's Bang* in Italian?
  66. I just dropped like €200 at Zara.
  67. Oh my god what did we even DO last night?
  68. I only have wine class on Thursdays...I guess I could skip it!
  69. I want Chipotle so bad right now.
  70. *death by cobblestone*
  71. Why doesn't anyone take card?
  72. Oh my god so last night at Uncle Jimmy's....
  73. Wow....the Duomo never fails to amaze me.
  74. I literally have €5.23 to my name right now....guess it's time to call dad...
  75. Do you think my parents would let me stay another semester?
  76. Do you think we should maybe work out...? I'm starting to get a pasta belly....nahhhh.
  77. Wow, this flight is so cheap!  I love European transportation!
  78. Italian men are so pretty.
  79. Let's do aperitivo tonight, I don't really need a full meal.
  80. My feet are killing me, but these shoes....
  81. Let's get breakfast at Le Vespe tomorrow! I could really use a breakfast burrito.
  82. Are those...rats...in the Arno...?
  83. Oh my god this train bathroom will be the death of me...I hate European transportation.
  84. Does everyone smoke here?
  85. I'm definitely taking a nap in between classes today.
  86. I think I've gained like 15 pounds since we got here....oh well.
  87. This place is so beautiful.
  88. Aaaaaaallora...
  89. God, this train smells awful.
  90. Why doesn't ranch dressing exist here?
  91. We will climb to the top of the Duomo eventually....
  92. I think I'm going to purposefully miss my flight home.
  93. This was not enough time here.
  94. Why are the bathrooms never free and always so gross?
  95. When can I come back?
  96. Why don't we cross to the Oltrarno more often?
  97. Wait, so do I ACTUALLY have to leave?
  98. I don't ever want to leave.
  99. Best 4 months of my life. 
  100. Florence will always be my second home.  My home away from home.

Want more stuff on Florence? 
Why I Fall in Love with Florence Every Time

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6 Photos of Interlaken that Will Give You Some Serious Wanderlust

Wanderlust- a strong longing for wandering.  You know the feeling, and if you have the travel bug, you know what I mean. Check out these photos from Interlaken, Switzerland that are sure to inspire you to get up and get lost...wherever that may be.

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Seriously...this photo is the definition of wanderlust.

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photo by Nicole Cranford

 

Seriously...this is majestic!

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And this place...the top of Europe...who wouldn't want to get lost here?

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Mountains, clouds, and then more mountains...

and if those weren't enough to convince you to go...check out how freekin' adorable this town is!

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How cute!!!

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The Worst of Traveling to Italy

Everyone wants to travel to Italy.  I mean who doesn’t want to eat gelato and lots of fresh pasta, and taste where pizza was first invented?  I actually challenge you to find one person who will tell you, “Nope, I don’t want to ever go there in my life.  Just doesn’t appeal to me.”  That person is, as the kids call it these days, ‘cray cray’. But visiting Italy doesn’t come without challenges.  There are crazy taxi drivers, cobblestone streets that are confusing at best, along with everyone speaking another language.  Most people know this though, and are expecting it when they travel.  So what to be prepared for, which most people don’t expect?

 

The Wifi is Satan

Seriously. There have been times that I have wanted to find whoever services Firenze Wifi, and give them a good kick in the shins – it’s that bad.  Honestly.  We recently moved apartments, and it has taken OVER A MONTH, for us to get new wifi… we moved July 16, and there still is no wifi in our apartment….

IMG_9303Even when you do connect to the Wifi, it is guaranteed to be slow, kick you off randomly, and don’t even bother trying to Facetime if you’re not sitting directly on top of the router. 

Stats wise around 30% of Italy’s population has never used the internet, so it makes sense that if A THIRD of your country has never even looked at a computer the wifi is terrible.  I think they’re ranked like 97th in best Wifi connections in the world.  It's not getting any better either.

So Put Your Phone Down

Okay, so yes the Wifi is terrible, but you know what?  Put your damn phone down.  You’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world, you don’t need to be Tweeting that you have a wedgie.  Look up, take a video of an accordion player roaming the streets, and later that night when you’re lying in your hotel bed, upload the video (it’s better for like for your friends back at home anyways).  Go to sleep with it still uploading (maybe it will be done by morning), and accept this is the culture you’re immersed in.

Honestly, when I’m travelling, I look at the lack of Wifi as a blessing.  My mom can’t message me 200 times expecting an answer (well she can but she won’t get one), and I don’t have any distractions from seeing the new world around me.  The phone comes out only to take photos and video, and then it’s back in my purse where it belongs. 

(I do text my mom when I land, so she doesn’t worry.)

The Hotel Beds are the Worst.

Don’t waltz into a 3 Star hotel in Italy expecting the same quality as a 3 Star hotel in the states.  Fluffy pillows, down comforters, and soft beds do not exist here.  Almost every single “queen-sized” bed I have stayed in while traveling in Italy, are really just two twin beds pushed together.  There is no mattress pad over this set up, so what ends up happening is THERE IS AN INFINITE CRACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BED.

You may wake up crying because you’ve fallen in this crack, desperately afraid you will never find a way out.  If you travel with a partner or a friend, I recommend shouting their name to help release you from this treacherous entrapment. 

So Don’t Spend Any Time in Your Bed

I get having a good night’s sleep is important, but spend as little time in your bed as possible.  It’s not like you’re lounging around all day (or you shouldn’t be) so suck it up and remember at least your crap hotel bed is in Italy.  Avoid the crack at all costs (because IT WILL consume you), and get up in the morning on the right side of the bed, look out your window (if you have one) and say “Hello, Italy!.”  

Some of the best sleep I have ever had is on trains, so sleep while you move, if you can.

The best might not be the best, but remember, you get to wake up and smell the pasta.  Yum.

Customer Service is Virtually Non-Existent

wake up and smell the pastaAlong with the wifi and keeping hotels up to modern day standards, the customer service industry in Italy is a little…slow.  Pretty much it’s non-existent.  Now, I’m not saying that this is the case with every place you go. I have a few places that I always trek to that I know will give me good service, but when trying anywhere new, expect the worst. 

Italian waiters in general are slow, and preparing meals takes forever.  Once I ordered a liter of wine for me and a friend (in Italian, mind you) and the waiter responded to me (in English), that we could not drink a liter of wine.  First of all, what?  Are you pretending you know if we can drink a liter of wine at dinner.  Second, what does it matter to you if I order a liter and don’t drink it?  You still get the money?!  After a short debate he refused to bring us the liter, and instead brought us a half liter.  Sometimes you just can’t win.

If a waiter, or the owner, has friends there, even if they sat 20 minutes after you, more often than not, they will get served before you.  It is how it has been done forever, and so it shall be.  This method isn’t changing anytime soon, and getting upset with waiters, or demanding better service, will most likely just make the situation worse. 

So Take Your Time

Heellloooooooo!  Part of the main reason you came to Italy is the food, so take your time and order A LOT!  Do it right!  I understand having a four course dinner every night is detrimental to your wallet, but since you’re not doing that, take your time eating your pizza, and savor every little bit.  And when you do decide to eat like a king, get multiple antipasti (crostini misiti, fiori di zucchini, and coccoli are my personal favorites).  Then order whatever pasta or steak your heart desires.  Order the full liter of wine (if you’re allowed *eyeroll*), get dessert, then order a caffé and a limoncello.  Take 3 hours to eat your dinner and don’t be ashamed. 

My personal recommendation? Act like an Italian and plan your day around food.  Wake up and think about lunch, and while you’re eating lunch, start thinking about dinner.  If you do this the bad service won’t even bother you, and then you are truly living in the culture. Buon appetito!

Nothing, and No One, Will Ever, Ever, EVER, be on Time.

Someone being early? HA! Forget it.  People aren’t joking when they say Italians are late to everything, and though it may seem like a sterotype, it is unfortunately, a true one.  When someone says 8 in the evening, they mean 9:30. 

I’ve had people tell me that they’ll be there in 15, then not show up until 2 hours later.

Just heed my warning.  No one is on time. 

Embrace it!

Especially if you are one of those people who always runs late anyways.  Accept the culture and don’t freak out when you realize you are 30 minutes late to your dinner reservations, your table probably still isn’t ready.  Run late, and expect others to run late as well.

I know that for some, this can be a difficult task to manage, but what’s the point in experiencing a new culture if you don’t at least try and adapt to their ways?

Chicken Alfredo Doesn’t Exist

Along with most American-Italian pasta dishes. Quite tragic.

THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS.

You literally have thousands of fresh pastas to choose from, so eat your chicken alfredo, or baked macaroni, or whatever other America-Italian pasta dish when you get home. 

I’m not saying that American-Italian pasta isn’t amazing and delicious in its own way, but experience Italian-Italian pasta, and don’t pitch a fit.  Or if you really need that fix, make it yourself in your Air Bnb.

There is a Severe Lack of Elevators

Or when they do exist, they are mega tiny. So tiny only 1 person will fit.  And if you’re tall? Forget it.  Naturally, this also means that you will be required to climb 5 flights of stairs to get wherever your room or destination. 

My first apartment in Florence was 71 steps up.  We counted every time we came home late, hoping it had changed.  Unfortunately, it never did.

It’s Okay to Skip Leg Day!

You’re eating all these carbs from the grand meals I just suggested, so now walking up all these steps to your Air Bnb is a good thing!  Don’t worry about not hitting the gym, just look at the health app on your iPhone and be shocked when it says you’ve climbed on average 11 flights of stairs in the last two weeks, compared to your average of 1.5 when you’re back at home.  Your body is thanking you for travelling and climbing all those stairs.  So before you curse that climb after a long day, just remember, you get to skip leg day!

Enjoy your vacation, and all in all, stop worrying!

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Things To Remember the Week Before a Big Trip

Often when preparing for  a big trip, you think of the main things you need to get together, clothes, shoes, makeup, undies, your camera (to see my advice on how to pack for longer trips click here.) The week before any trip is crucial time, and doing a few little things can be enough to help your trip (and return home) run smoothly.

Double check to make sure you have all of your prescriptions.  (and extra)

During my last haul to Italy over the summer, I ran out of contacts lenses.   Navigating in a train station and being unable to read any of the departure/arrival boards isn’t the most pleasant experience ever.  Don’t be like me.  Travel with lots of contacts. Continue reading “Things To Remember the Week Before a Big Trip”

How to Pack for Your Semester in Florence

IMG_9256In a few weeks Florence will go from an shut down not-quite ghost town, to a city teeming with nearly 4000 study abroad students.  The question is, how do you pack enough for 4 months?  Part of your adventure will be winter, and the other part will be spring and summer- so much to prepare for!  You will be skiing in the Swiss Alps, and also going to beach trips in the Amalfi coast, so what to do?

These days on most international flights they allow you one checked bag at 20 kilos (~53 lbs), one carry-on at around 8 kilos (16 lbs), and one personal item.  They say this personal item should be a purse, camera bag, or laptop bag- but I usually bring my backpack or a largish tote, and I've never had any problems.

So how in the world do you pack these 3 relatively small bags for a place you will be living for 4 months? The answer? Pack just a little bit of everything, very strategically.

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Venice, the Menace

IMG_0196If you’re traveling to Italy on a budget, beware of Venice.

Prices are high, they don’t exactly love tourists, and there’s a very small “outside of town” alternative for places to stay the night.  I’m not saying don’t go, just be prepared.

Venice is a beautiful town, and it’s easy to see why it is called “The City of Love”.  Everyone has heard of it’s small winding canals and romantic little bridges, setting a perfect backdrop for photos.  Seriously, it’s impossible to take a bad photo here.

But before you go there are a few things you need to be aware of and also be prepared to splurge on.

Continue reading “Venice, the Menace”

Best Places to Watch Your Team in Florence

Curious for the best places to watch your team play in Florence?

These bars not only play important European games, but for those of you that need to keep up with your American sports during the year, here are some places that will turn them on for you.

Lion’s Fountain

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Multiple TV’s, large space, and in my opinion the best fried American Food in Florence.  It’s the college student’s haven in Florence for sports. Located in Piazza San Pier Maggiore (Borgo degli Albizi, 34) it’s a great central location to start out your night watching the game, and then bar hop to your heart’s content.  If you really want to enjoy yourself, stop in earlier in the day and make a table reservation for the game.  It will make the game that much better for you and your friends. Continue reading “Best Places to Watch Your Team in Florence”