During CET’s Orientation, the staff members honed in on the honeymoon phase of study abroad, in which students solely fixate on the “abroad” aspect. When I first arrived in Florence, the mixture of golden hues and classic architecture made said romantic lens difficult to resist. And so, I spent my first few days behind rose-colored glasses, exploring prominent landmarks like the Ponte Vecchio.
Within the span of a week, the walk to my apartment has been branded into my muscle memory. My roommates and I have been slowly phasing out Google Maps and trying to direct ourselves based on intuition and memory. On our way up to our apartment, we sometimes run into our lovely neighbors and share pleasant encounters in passing.
The common room is home to our apartment’s daily debriefs. During our short time here, we have already hosted dinner for the other Brandeis students from CET. As Brandeis freshmen in our first semester of college, we have been driven closer not only because of physical proximity but also because our situation remains unique to us.
In the far right image, my roommates are waving from the kitchen window. We have been trying to prepare dinner as a large group, which has turned into an activity in and of itself. These types of nights are quickly shaping into core memories that mark our time here together.
I captured this picture on the Ponte alle Grazie en route to class. You can see the yellow CET building on the right and the hilltop San Miniato al Monte in the upper left. Though adjusting to life in a new city has been challenging at times, most destinations in Florence are simply walking distance from each other. CET is located on the less touristy side of the river, allowing students to explore outside of Florence’s city-center radius.
We had an untraditional approach to Orientation in which CET took us to Villa Ilangi for the day. We spent the afternoon unwinding by the infinity pool and exploring the vineyard grounds. Shoutout to another one of the Brandeis students for taking this picture!
The CET Center is close to many nearby parks and gardens, including Piazza Nicola Demidoff. You can often spot students and locals alike relaxing on benches and walking through the city’s greenery.
As part of the CET experience, the courses push us out of the classroom and directly into the city (left image). Specifically, in my sketching class, we often take small field trips to nearby sites. On the first day, we ventured to Museo Horne for a blind contour sketching exercise.
CET organizes a range of free excursions after class. The first organized tour I joined was a gelato tour (right image). We stopped at two of Florence’s renowned gelaterias: Vivoli near Santa Croce and La Sorbettiera across the river.
Shades of orange and yellow line the River Arno. I’ve found that a day in Florence is not complete without passing the Arno. Even by simply walking around Florence, it is so easy to become awestruck by the golden architecture that lies around every bend.