To those of you on pins and needles, I have indeed made it to Florence! I flew from San Francisco direct to JFK, and from there flew directly to Pisa on a red-eye. I sat in first class on the way over, which was not the most humbling experience ever. I was well-fed, had a nice glass of wine, watched the movie Doubt, and actually was able to sleep a little. Pisa is a charming little airport, and getting through customs was no sweat. I then took a taxi to the main train station, and waited a half an hour for the next train to Florence, which gave me just enough time to wash my face and brush my teeth in the pristine train station bathroom (yes, pristine, yes, at a train station!). Then it was a short one-hour ride to Florence, and another quick taxi ride to my “house.” There I was greeted by the sweetest Italian lady, given sustenance, and told to sleep until dinner, which I did. I woke up several hours later to find that two other girls had arrived. Emmeline is 28 and from Ecuador (but lives in Canada), and Katty is probably in her 40’s, and I haven’t figured out where she is from yet. I am finding that I want to speak in German, and have to keep reminding myself to fish further down into my brain and pull out that ancient Italian I learned several years ago. Anyway, for dinner we had a delicious pasta with some kind of cheese sauce, plus a salad and chicken braised with potatoes. Let me tell you, my host mother Delores sure can cook!! It’s not going to be a tough three months…
I have a room to myself, which is very nice. There are two beds in the room, and I chose the one furthest from the window because the mattress was softer. The beds are tiny. At 5’7″, my toes definitely come to the very end. I am glad that I am not much taller or fatter, or I don’t think I would fit into it! In spite of my nap, I slept relatively well. I did wake up several times early in the morning, and finally gave up and just got out of bed around 6:00am. That gave me some time to read my book a little (currently reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which I very strongly recommend) and get ready for the day. Delores’ cat Paula has taken an instant liking to me; she immediately came to my room when I arrived, slept on my bedside table with her head in my sock drawer until I went to sleep, and then faithfully returned as soon as I opened my door this morning. I am normally allergic to cats, but she is different. So at least I have one friend in Florence!
I wore black pants today and made the mistake of de-linting them when I got dressed. Five minutes later they were covered in lint and cat hair, so I have learned to wait until the very last second, and then hurry out the door (not too fast, though, so as not to attract static attention to myself!). I took a language placement test at school today, which was the only thing we did. I guess the intensive, 5-hours/day starts tomorrow. The rest of the day I spent walking around with Emmeline. We didn’t do anything exciting, and I was quickly tired and cold because of the rain. I hope the weather clears up soon. Maybe it is me, maybe it is just the rainy nature of most of Europe, but every single time I have moved here I have been greeted by the dreariest weather imaginable. I am trying not to read too much into that.
There are many American students at this language school. I have not actually met very many of them, but the ones I have met are not all that nice. Many of them have the typical American attitude towards being in a foreign country, that is, they think that the world should conform to their expectations and standards. I am trying my best not to slip into the comforts of hearing and speaking English, mostly because that is what happened the first time I lived in Italy. It will be difficult, but supremely rewarding, no doubt.
I am not sure what the extent of my internet access will be. I believe I get an hour free at the school every week, which does not stretch very far. Of course there is no internet at home, which is actually probably a good thing. It’s better when you have to make an effort to use the internet, that way you don’t just sit and surf and miss the fact that you are living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. That said, I will try my best to post as much as possible.
That’s all for now.