Study Abroad in Florence
This past Saturday, I took my final (and successful!) trip to Cinque Terre. It was a lot of fun, because I finally went to my first European beach, and the weather was wonderful. It was hot and sunny-the perfect beach weather. Our day started off with taking a hike through Cinque Terre until we reached the beach. We couldn’t hike through the first village, because it had been damaged by a mudslide. However, this didn’t make the hike any less difficult. The hike had a lot of steps, and at certain parts of the trail, there weren’t any rails to keep you from going over the steep ledges! Towards the end of the trail, a bunch of us even stopped and purchased bracelets for nice prices.
When we finally reached the beach, we relaxed in the sun, and even went in the water. The water was freezing, and so cold that once I went under, I couldn’t stay in for too long. By the time we left for home, all of us were exhausted.
I can’t believe that this is my last week in Florence. I feel like this semester went by so fast! When I first arrived, I was homesick and wanted to go home. Now I wish I had a little bit more time here. The weather has finally gotten warmer, and I’ll miss this place. However, out of the many things I’ll miss about Florence, the bugs won’t be one of them. The Italians don’t use screens, and since we don’t have air conditioning, we need to open up the windows. As you can imagine, we’ve all been getting bitten a lot, and have killed so many bugs in our apartment!
Anyway, here are some photos I took at Cinque Terre. Enjoy them!
Entry 8- April 25th
This past weekend, my friends and I decided to travel to Amsterdam. It was an interesting and fun experience. Since there’s really not that much to see in Amsterdam, the only things we went to were the bell tower (which gave us a whole view of the city), the Anne Frank House, and the Heineken Museum. All of these places were amazing to see. Amsterdam was similar to London because everyone spoke English and was very friendly. I even saw a store that was titled something like “The American and British Store” and advertised Twinkies and pop tarts in the window-things I haven’t seen since I left home!
Something else we did while we were there was go to a cheese shop, where we got many free samples of cheese. My favorite was the green cheese, which was actually called “pesto cheese.” One of my roommates, Meghan, actually brought it back to our apartment when she visited Amsterdam a couple weeks ago. It was so delicious, and it was different from any other cheese I ever tasted.
One thing I’ll never forget about this trip was when a worker at a restaurant thought I was Italian! As my friends and I approached the doorway to the restaurant, he said “Bevere (drink) or mangiare (eat)?” And he actually started making gestures as if he was eating something. It was too funny.
Since I have traveled the past three weekends in a row, I’m happy to be spending this upcoming weekend in Florence. I can’t believe next week will be my last week here! These past four months have gone by so fast! Check out the Photos around the world section for some pictures!
Entry 7- April 15th
This past week, I did a lot of stuff.
On Wednesday night, I went to my first Italian soccer game. We were all advised to wear purple (Florence’s colors), because it could be dangerous if we didn’t. We were also told not to sit in the opponents’ section. Keeping all of this in mind, I wore a purple t-shirt, and even lent my roommate another one of my purple tops. When my friends and I started heading over to the game, we spotted a group of tourists who were cheering and wearing purple. Our original plan was to take a bus to the stadium, but we thought that following this group would be easier. It was for the most part, until we realized that we would be better off just traveling our own way. Once we arrived at the game, we were surrounded by a sea of black and purple. I had never seen so much spirit and Italian pride since we arrived in Florence. Everyone was cheering and singing in Italian. I wished that I could understand the fans, and join them in their songs and chants.
On Thursday afternoon, I went to Barcelona and came back on Sunday. It was a lot of fun, and I got to see some interesting things, such as the Sagrada Familia. Unfortunately, we didn’t see certain things there, since most of the main sites to see in Barcelona are outdoors, and it was raining a lot. My favorite part of the trip was seeing the Magical Fountains. The fountains were beautiful, because the water would change colors, and loud music would play. The music itself was a mixture of many different tunes. I heard everything from “Wonderwall” to Smash Mouth’s “All Star.” I have some pictures of these fountains of course, but I’m not going to post any other photos from Barcelona, since my friend Amanda has done so already. J
Entry 6- April 10th
As you may know, yesterday was Easter. Normally on Easter, I’ll spend the day at my Aunt Lisa’s after attending the Sunday morning church services. Of course this year, I couldn’t make it to my Aunt’s, but I got to do something else- go to Danielle’s grandma’s house. Danielle’s grandma lives in Santo Stefano, Avellino. The interesting thing about this, is that my Great Grandma Carmella was from Avellino too! Unfortunately, I didn’t find any relatives in Avellino, but I did get to experience a different style of living.
Santo Stefano is a small town where everyone knows each other. It is also located in the mountains, which makes it colder sometimes. In fact, it even snowed while we were there! On Easter, groups of people, mostly composed of guys, will parade around the town playing instruments such as tambourines, and sing an old Italian dialect song over and over again. Everyone was so full of energy during this, that even when it was raining, they didn’t stop singing. While we were following one of the singing groups, we spotted a lamb in the back of a person’s truck. The lamb was a gift to the town, and the town was going to give it to someone. This was interesting to me, because this was something that I haven’t really heard of happening before.
Another interesting thing that the town did was have a procession on Good Friday. Many people were involved in walking through the town as they followed the Priest and altar servers. AS everyone walked, the priest spoke, and certain people carried two different statues-one of a grieving Mary, and one of Jesus’s corpse.
Going To Avellino was such a good experience that I hope to visit it again some day. I’m still remaining hopeful that I’ll find some distant relatives there. For now, I’ll just enjoy my photos and videos that I took on the trip. Here are some photos for you to look at!
Entry 5, March 27st 2012
This past weekend was a lot of fun, because my parents visited me. We walked around Florence, visited the leather market (leather is something that the Italians are known for), and even went into the Santa Maria Novella Church and Uffici Museum.
Going to the Uffici was nice, because I got to see some famous paintings, including the “Primavera” and “Birth of Venus.” I also enjoyed looking at all of the frescoes in the Santa Maria Novella Church, because I’m taking an Art of Buon Fresco class.
However, the best thing about this weekend was that I got to spend time with my parents, because I haven’t seen them since I left for Italy. We got to catch up on a lot of things, and go out to dinner and lunch. We also went to church in the cathedral. The service itself was enjoyable, even though we could not understand it since it was in Italian. What made the service interesting was how the priests and singers did not use microphones. The cathedral is actually designed so that the sound echoes all throughout the church.
Unfortunately all good weekends must come to an end, but my parents are now spending some time in Rome. I know it will be a lot of fun for them, because I had a great experience the last time I went there.
Entry 4 February 27th
On Friday morning, my roommate Gabby and I left our apartment at 7:30 to go on a trip to Rome with our Ancient Rome class. We didn’t get back until late Saturday afternoon. This may sound cheesy, but I fell in love with Rome. It was sunny and 66 degrees, and everything was beautiful. My Professor took us to the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Palatine Hill, Arch of Constantine, Theatre of Marcellus, Portico of Octavia, Mausoleum of Augustus, the Pantheon, Piazza della Pietra, Piazza Colonna, Piazza Navona, and the Roman Forum. My friends and I also paid a visit to the Trevi Fountain where we threw our three coins in over our right shoulders before making our wishes. The only thing I didn’t see was the Vatican, because that meant waiting on a long line, and there just wasn’t enough time.
As you can see, there was a lot of walking and climbing involved on this trip. My feet were very sore, but it was definitely worth it. My professor did a wonderful job of showing us everything. Rome was so enjoyable, and I hope to return there. For now, my friend and I are planning trips to other places. We’re thinking of seeing Bolonga and Venice. Here are some pictures that I took in Rome. Enjoy!
Entry 3 February 19th
Yesterday, my roommate Danielle and I went to the local chocolate fair located in the Piazza Della Republica. This festival has been going on since last week, but sadly it ends this weekend. The place was packed, and there was even a small parade going on nearby that featured drummers and flag twirlers. There was such a huge variety of chocolate at this fair, that there was something for everyone. There was fondue, chocolate bars, and even sculptures of the most random things. We saw chocolate sculptures of cows, bunnies, shoes, cell phones, iphones, a smirf, Hello Kitty, and even a normal-sized teddybear!
Small kids could even be seen wearing animal costumes, and riding the carousel that always stands in the piazza. As you can imagine, Danielle and I left with a lot of chocolate. We both got chocolate covered cereal, and different kinds of chocolate bars. I got a chocolate bar with M&Ms, and a white chocolate bar with stracciatella. I also picked up another chocolate bar for my dad (which I won’t describe because it will be a gift for him). Danielle got a milk chocolate bar with pear in it, and another bar with hazelnuts in it. After a while, both of us realized we had to go before we spent any more money on chocolate. Below are some pictures that I took of the festival. The one with the two girls is me and Danielle. I’m on the right!
Toscana, Florence- Jenna Mulvey
This past weekend was interesting, because many of us went out to watch the Superbowl. As you can imagine, there didn’t seem to be any Europeans watching the game where we were-the place was filled with Americans. Except for school, I’ve never been to a place since I arrived here that was mostly Americans.
Even though we try not to, us Americans end up standing out in Italy. Sometimes, I can easily spot someone who is American, just by what they’re wearing. Italians never wear Uggs or North Faces, for example. Also, no one ever seems to be wandering the streets in sweats or worn-out clothing. The only sweatshirts that I’ve seen anyone sell are the ones sold by street vendors that say I LOVE ITALIA, or FIRENZE UNIVERSITY. Everyone always looks put together, and not like they just rolled out of bed and threw on some clothes. Before leaving for Italy, we were all told about this.
Before I left America, I had to leave behind a lot of clothing. I left without my Uggs, Northface, sweatpants, and sweatshirts. I definitely miss all of them, but I needed room in my suitcases, and I didn’t want to stand out when I came here. Besides, I knew I would be living with at least three other people, since my suitemates and a good friend of mine all knew that we wanted to live together. This would mean that depending on the size and space in our apartment, we all wouldn’t have a lot of room to put our stuff.
But this doesn’t really bother me. I was never really the one to go to class wearing sweatpants. However, I would wear a lot of sweatshirts to class because they were so comfortable. Right now, sweatshirts would come in handy, because Italy is so cold that it’s rare. It hasn’t been this cold for a long time, and no one is used to it. Our landlords had to crank up our heat more, and our school even started offering more blankets to students. It even started snowing here, which hardly ever happens! My friends and I can’t wait for it to get warmer, and I’ve even started trying to plan a trip to the Amalfi coast. Hopefully us Americans will blend in more since there will be no need for Northfaces or Uggs!
Till next time!
Jenna Mulvey, Florence Italy
Hi! My name is Jenna Mulvey, and I’m a junior at Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island. I’m studying Journalism and Creative Writing, and currently, I’m spending my spring semester in Florence! Follow me as I blog about my experiences in Italy.
Entry 1, February 4th, 2012
I arrived in Florence about three weeks ago, and although it has been a wonderful and interesting experience so far, I am still adjusting and learning something new every day. Everyone knows that Italy has great food, and tasting/trying foods has become an important part of my routine here. Anyway, when we first arrived in Italy three weeks ago, my roommate Danielle and I went to the supermarket. Although we were lucky enough to be provided with milk, orange juice, sauce, and pasta when we first came here, we still needed to get food.
When I was a cashier at Stop and Shop and Kohls, I had gotten a few foreigners who didn’t speak English well or at all. It was a struggle for us to communicate. But when I arrived in Italy, I ended up being the customer in a supermercato (supermarket) who didn’t speak the country’s language, Italian. As the cashier was ringing me up, everything was going fine until she got to the bananas. She was talking to me and I didn’t understand a word she was saying. I also forgot how to say, “yes” in Italian, so as she spoke to me, all I could do was nod and say, “yes” over and over. Luckily, Danielle speaks Italian fluently, and she told me that I actually had to go weigh the bananas so that the cashier knew what to charge me. Well, I weighed the bananas and brought them to the register. But low and behold, I actually had to print out a sticker for the bananas with the price and weight! I didn’t get the bananas that day but I’m proud to say that I actually have become a pro at weighing fruits and printing out their price tags.
But the way you present the food at the cash register is not the only thing about the Supermarket that’s different. When you go to grocery stores here, most food items are sold in small sizes. I’ve never come across huge gallons of milk, for example. As far as carrying your food around the store, you can either use a basket, or pay a euro to use a cart. And once you get to the register, the cashier will ask you if you want to buy bags. Yes, those plastic bags that you find at Stop and Shop or Kings are not free here-they cost 10 cents.
At some point, I’m going to go to a street market to get some fruits and vegetables. Before arriving in Italy, I was told that the fruits and vegetables are so fresh at these markets, that you could just close your eyes and pick something that isn’t rotten! I visited one of these markets briefly with my class, and I’m looking forward to going to one again. When I go, I’ll let you know what it was like! Until then, Ciao!