On appreciating the little things…
After spending nine days away on spring break, I have returned to Florence with a newfound appreciation of my study abroad home.
Cost of Living
While I initially thought Florence was expensive (.78€ for a yogurt?! Are you kidding me?!), after spending the weekend in Edinburgh, I have come to appreciate the value of the Euro. My
happiness at seeing a familiar refuge designated by the twin-tailed siren was unfortunately hampered within moments of arrival. The Starbucks in Scotland provided momentary excitement, that was inflated when a gigantic (read: tall) cup was placed in front of me, however, my realization that it cost over £2.50 meant that I was paying about $4 for a cup of plain ole black coffee! Though the serving size of Italian coffee may be inadequate for my liking, the quality and affordability caused my first cup back on Italian soil to be exceptionally delicious.
Following this breakfast expedition, we made our way up to the Edinburgh Castle. Spoiled by our student passes that get us into state museums in Florence for free, we were taken aback by the steep £14 entrance fee. No student discounts either! That little plastic student card feels so much more valuable in my backpack now.
Size of Florence
Upon arrival in Barcelona (the second half of my spring break) I was immediately shocked by the size of the city. Compared to Florence, it is huge! The maps are rarely to scale so a seemingly 30 minute walk can easily take twice as long. There is no familiar Duomo looming over the city where one can orient herself immediately. Acknowledging the fact that I am not from a large metropolitan area, I usually can figure out public transit relatively easily. This was not the case in Barcelona. Attempting to navigate to Sagrada Familia, the main attraction of Barcelona, the girls and I became lost underground in the Metro. Not wanting to exit and have to purchase another ticket, we wandered around aimlessly seeking another line, the infamous L4. If I may quote a dear roommate of mine, “we are trapped in a place where we don’t want to be…and..we’re..trapped”. (If you must know, we did eventually escape and successfully make it to the church).
This morning, my half hour walking commute across the entire city to my Italian class allowed me to appreciate the dense conglomeration of art in such a concentrated area. Not only did I pass the Accadamia, Uffizi Gallery, and Orsanmichele, but also meandered around the Duomo and crossed the Ponte Vecchio.
Monoculture of Florence
After being in other areas of Europe, I have come to appreciate the monoculture of Florence. That is to say that though sometimes I lament the lack of ethnic diversity in culinary options (questionable Chinese restaurants, few American places to satiate that hamburger craving and only one Mexican restaurant!), it adds to the authenticity of my experience in an Italian city. I am getting the true assimilation into culture. Besides food, hearing essentially only Italian and on occasion English, is refreshing. In Barcelona, I heard Catalon, Spanish, English and French walking along the streets, giving the city more of a touristy feel. Hearing Italians answer the phone “Pronto”, happily respond “Va bene!” and chat with friends makes me feel immersed in a culture entirely different than my own.
Home is where the heart is, and in this case it’s Florence!