Italia: Week Three *tre* Update
Mama mia! The days started flying by, and before I knew it, I was in the middle of my third week abroad. Adjusting to living in Florence *Firenze* was much more difficult than I expected it to be; I experienced symptoms of culture shock for the first time. The first week felt disorienting, isolating, and uncomfortable. I can blame my feelings of depression on my drastic change in environment from how I had been living leading up to the trip. This summer, I lived in Estes Park, Colorado. I was constantly surrounded by nature and had become accustomed to the slow, small, mountain-town lifestyle. Estes Park has a population of less than 7,000, whereas Firenze has a population nearing 400,000. That is about 57 times more humans than I was used to seeing on a regular basis. Seeing a tree in the middle of the stone city felt like a mirage.
Exploring outside of the city center seemed to help me adjust to this new lifestyle. After taking a trip to a city park, the Tuscan countryside, and the beach, I felt less trapped in the city. Simply knowing that I have the option to change scenery was liberating.
Now, entering my 4th week in Florence, I can say I have fully adjusted. I am enjoying my time here much more than I did that first week. Most of my days are filled with classes, trips to the Central Market *Mercato Centrale* and grocery stores, cooking meals, working on studies, and spending time with my roommates. You would not believe how much time is dedicated to food here. Fortunately, my capstone project is about Italian cuisine, so some of my time devoted to meals is counted as part of my studies.
The food is much fresher than the food I usually get at Meijer, but it goes bad much faster. Bell peppers that could last a week in Michigan will only last three days here, and the same for zucchini. What was my first true Italian meal? Pizza, of course! As far as flavor goes, American pizza is like a bad sequel. Deep dish crust is a disgrace to Italian cuisine. In the coming weeks, I will be going out to eat more often to experience more traditional Italian dining. I plan on eating at restaurants that feel more local and less touristy – if that is even possible.
Ugh, the tourists! They are everywhere. They clog the streets and museums. They are always taking selfies. They are awake late in the night, chattering loudly under the apartment window. I can’t blame them, though; Florence is an amazing city that incorporates an incredibly powerful history within daily modern life.
Even though I am only a quarter way through my time here, I can already see myself learning and growing from this valuable experience.
– McKenna Mesclier