After a very long and exhausting couple days, my roommates, Iyana and Julia, and I are all unpacked and comfortable in our surprisingly large room. The flight was long and tiring and very boring. Meeting new people was definitely fun but there is only so much to talk about on a 8 hour flight.
Yesterday was mostly just sitting in our rooms being tired and trying not to sleep. And after having not slept for nearly 24 hours, that is far easier said than done. Before dinner, I’m pretty sure most of us had taken naps. The food here is absolutely incredible. I haven’t had a bad meal yet (although, I’ve only had 4 so far). We had pizza twice in one day but there were no complaints there.
This morning was quite an early start considering how exhausted everyone was the day before. We went is smaller groups to different cafés (or bars as they are called here) for breakfast. The coffee here is absolutely amazing and I will probably drink it with literally every meal. I haven’t tried just an espresso yet but let me tell you, the Italians make a mean latte. All the locals are extremely kind but it’s difficult to interact because of the language barrier. An older woman came up to Julia, Iyana, and me in the café and asked where we were from and how long we’d be here (we think.. not quite sure though). Julia’s knowledge of Spanish is definitely coming in useful. I am slowly picking up some easy words like thank you, you’re welcome, and hello (and of course the different coffees) but I still can’t understand anyone or have a conversation.
While trying to learn the ins and outs of Prato, we were also experiencing the rain season. We went on what felt like the longest tour of all time through the pouring rain. I have honestly never felt more American than I did while walking through the city in a large group of people. We got many, many strange looks. One thing I have learned so far is that no matter how hard it is raining, or much you think you won’t need the umbrella, bring the umbrella. The city is gorgeous though, and very historic. We stopped by the church that Pope Francis stopped at before going to Florence. We saw a secret passage way inside the city wall that the Florence military would use to enter the city unannounced to control the citizens of Prato while they were still under the control of Florence. Hopefully over the next couple days, we will be able to become more acclimated with the city.
Tonight we had our welcome dinner which was basically just an excuse to dress up and eat a lot of food.
Rather than getting what we usually would with the meal plan, we got to try everything they had on their menu (it’s a specific menu just for UNH students to use their vouchers). Everything was absolutely delicious. The main course was lasagne (Dad, you’re going to have to step up your game… big time). With dessert, we had a cake that had welcome written in Italian and had sparkling wine to have a toast. As my first legal drink (what mom? No, of course I’ve never drank before) it was amazing, even though I am not the biggest fan of sparkling wines.. Not that I’ve had a ton of experience of course.
This city is much different than anything I have ever experienced. Everything is old, rickety, and uneven. I’ve seen maybe 2 or 3 modern buildings throughout the city center. There is also such a feeling of community, like everyone knows everyone like they are from a small town in the middle of nowhere. It is definitely cool to be able to experience an authentic Italian city without the luxury of being around a ton of people who speak English like in Florence or Rome. Driving really isn’t an option here (or anywhere in Tuscany for the most part) because the roads are so narrow. There are a large number of cars and crossing the street can be quite terrifying. There are hardly any road signs, and I haven’t seen a single traffic light since we left the airport in Florence.
As far as contact goes, Facebook messenger, google hangouts, or iMessage would probably be the easiest. For hangouts, you can either download the app or do it right from your g-mail browser (under your inboxes and folders, there is a section for messages, just start a new message with me if you have my email in your contacts. If not, my email is email@example.com). To use iMessage, just put my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) into the recipients bar or you can ask me to message you first if that’s easier (I just need to have your number).
After having a great first couple days, I cannot wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store for us.
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