It is near the end of the third week of the program and I am wishing time would move a bit slower. I have created so many lifelong memories throughout the past few weeks. I’m quickly realizing that this study abroad experience will be one of the biggest highlights of my college career. In just a few short weeks, I have met a lot of great people from all over the U.S. and even the world. I have already started to talk with a few CIMBA students about visiting each other during the school year. I have also met some people from the England, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, and of course many people in Italia! I met all of these new acquaintances mostly during my travel weekends. I would have to say that Hostels are the best place to meet people from all over the world. Honestly, I was initially skeptical about staying in Hostels, but once I tried it out this past weekend in Florence, I have a total different take on it.
TIP: When choosing a hostel (most likely through the website: hostelworld.com) make sure to review the ratings and determine whether or not you want a “private” or a “dorm” style room. The dorm style rooms are just a bunch of beds put in one giant room. The number of beds vary depending on the hostel. I usually try to find the hostels that offer private rooms just to be on the safer side.
I traveled to Florence this past weekend and it has been my favorite destination thus far. There is so much history throughout the entire city. I was amazed when finding out the dates of when some of the city’s monuments were built. Because of Florence’s endless amount of history, it was no surprise to see tourists all over (especially Americans). I honestly can say that the crowds didn’t bother me at all mostly because of how big the city is and how many sites there is to see. I specifically visited the Duomo, Santa Maria Cathedral, Michaelangelo’s Plaza, Piazza della Signoria, the Statue of David and the Boboli Gardens. There was also plenty to do during the night in Florence. To my surprise, there were a lot of families walking around with their young kids at 11PM.
Tip: This is a general tip about restaurants, food markets, shops, and Tabacchi stores. Be aware that most of these places throughout Italy close early or at weird hours. It’s definitely not the same as America where you can quickly go buy food at 10PM. In more touristy cities like Florence, you may find more restaurants, shops, etc open later than the restaurants and Tabacchi close to CIMBA’s campus.
Although I had an amazing time in Florence, I did run into a problem at the end of my trip. My friends and I made the mistake of not buying our train tickets in advanced to get home. Usually the trains don’t get booked; however, the day we tried to return back to campus was the weekend of Italy’s Independence Day. We ended up waiting 8 hours until the first train was available at 1AM and arrived on campus right before our first class at 8AM. Struggling to get home for nearly 17 hours was one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced. Though, I can now say that getting lost in America will be a piece of cake for me!
Tip: If you ever run into the situation I just described above, then the best advice I can give is to.. first: book as much as you can for your trains, hostels, hotels, flights, etc before the weekend you travel just to be on the safe side. Second: don’t freak out and try to make the best out of the situation. The only thing you can do at that point is to remain calm and treat it as a lesson-learned. My friends and I followed through with this attitude because we knew that these situations happen all the time and somehow we will eventually get to our destination. Besides, everyone always needs that story to retell and laugh about later in life. I’m thinking this past weekend will be my unforgettable story I will tell sometime in my future
With all that being said, here’s a brief slideshow that features my incredible experiences I have had these past few weeks. Enjoy!