By Nick Weiss
Saluti da Firenze!
Well, it’s been a good week and I’m finally settled in and fairly well acclimated to Florence. Ok, I don’t get lost anymore… But in all seriousness, it’s pretty amazing here! I’ve met so many amazing people both through my classes and locals. The family-owned bar (in Italy, a bar is where you go for things like your coffee, breakfast, lunch, etc.) directly across from my school has quickly become a welcoming environment and I feel like a “regular” now. Each day the owner teaches my friends and me a little bit of Italian and always says “ciao” when passing on the street!
When we’re not in classes, my friends and I explore the various shops, sights, attractions, and back alleys of Florence. This past week, I took the opportunity to visit the main cathedral of Florence, the Duomo. It. Was. Breathtaking! Seeing something so beautiful and so incredibly MASSIVE that was all constructed hundreds of years ago really puts things into perspective. And there were no giant cranes and bulldozers to assist in the process. This architectural wonder is the result of the hard work of many skilled architects, artists, and handymen who spent many painstaking hours putting it all together.
My other favorite activities outside of class are, well, visiting my favorite gelato shop and the best pizza and calzone shop in all of Florence (in my most humble opinion). Located within steps of the Duomo and only minutes from SACI, the shops are local and always fresh.
As a student in a study abroad program, I’m obviously here to learn new things. But there is something I’ve learned that isn’t something you can learn from an instructor: respect. There was this moment as I was walking with my friends around the river that it occurred to me: I am a foreigner in this country. This realization may seem obvious, and so I thought it was, but the thought came as quite a shock.
Until this point in my life, I have always been surrounded by and communicated in English, in the United States, in my home, in my territory. My current situation is quite the opposite. Being here has forced me out of my comfort zone and into a situation where English is not the dominant language. I can easily say that, until now, I took the ease of spoken and written communication for granted.
Most of the people I’ve met have communicated with me in English to some degree, a kind gesture which I am thankful for. In return, I try my hardest to speak the basics of Italian to them to extend my gratitude and respect. As a guest in another country, I highly recommend learning the basics and a few conversational phrases in the language of the country you will be visiting. The language barrier is real and can be frustrating at times, but I’ve found that trying to speak Italian, even if it doesn’t sound great, goes a long way.
Whether for a few weeks or a full semester, CCAD students are studying off campus across the nation and around the world. Read about their experiences here.