Florence is great. My apartment is great. The people are great. The coffee leaves much to be desired, but that's only because I'm a quantity over quality kinda gal.
My biggest concern so far is that "big cup of coffee to go" isn't a thing here. The coffee in the cafés is delicious, but they come in teeny tiny cups with barely enough caffeine to energize a mouse. Also, don't ever order a "latté" because you will just get a cup of milk.
School is going to be so intense, I don't know how well I'm going to handle it... the fact that I'm doing art over 6 hours a day is wonderfully amazing, but standing at an easel over 6 hours a days is going to kill me. My feet, legs, back, and neck are so damn sore already! I have class from 9AM to 7PM Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; on some Tuesdays and Thursdays (not all) I get out at 4PM. The school is wildly diverse, with only two students who are actually Italian. The rest are from all over the world; a handful of Americans and Brits (my lovely roommate Poppy is from the UK, and she made me tea our first night here!), two people from Sweden, a guy from South Africa, some guys from Barcelona, a guy from Australia, a guy from Scotland... lots of people, lots of places. I've had tons of fun meeting new people! I've been told that for people who don't speak English as their first language, Americans are the easiest to understand because we "use less words." I wasn't sure whether or not to feel insulted by that statement.
I went grocery shopping for my first time a couple of days ago, which was an experience all in itself. The grocery store is call "COOP", but it's not a coop, it's just the name of a chain of grocery stores. Apparently it's one of the better grocery stores in the city in terms of quality and price, and it's only a block away from my apartment! The produce is insanely cheap, and next to the bags are little plastic gloves you have to put on before you touch any of the produce. I thought this was really nice actually, I wish we did that in the states! Then you go weigh the produce on this little scale with a screen and select what kind it is - thank god it had pictures - and it prints out a sticker with the weight and price and a barcode for scanning. There's also a wall of barcode scanners by the carts, which you can take and scan everything as you put it in your cart, so when you check out it goes WAY faster. Also I was incredibly relieved to discover that the self-checkout has an english option. The store does have plastic bags but they encourage you to bring your own by charging 5 cents per bag, which I thought was pretty cool too. Prices are pretty damn fabulous, except for peanut butter, which is apparently not popular here at all and is hard to find and very expensive.
The craziest thing that's happened to me so far is... losing my ipod. I was visiting the Duomo Cathedral with one of my roommates on Tuesday, and was feeling just completely overwhelmed by the beauty (by the way, if you ever visit Florence you have to see the Duomo during the day and at night, they're totally different experiences!). I took a picture, walked around to the other side, and no longer had my ipod. I broke down crying in front of the Michelangelo's Gates of Paradise (actually the second time I started crying there, the first was just out of pure wonder). I spent the evening hating myself for allowing myself to get pick-pocketed, and bemoaning the loss of my music and camera. I got home and immediately changed all my passwords to everything I'd ever logged into on my ipod, and had a horrible day Wednesday, unable to concentrate on drawing without my music to drown out all the people noises. Then today, the police showed up at my school... with my ipod! What! I was totally floored. That just does not happen. I don't know how I could possibly be so lucky. I couldn't quite understand if they found it or if someone turned it in, but either way they found an email on it from my school here and called. I feel so incredibly grateful, and I know there's no way I will ever get this lucky twice so I am guarding this damn thing with my life from now on!!!
I've only been here 4 days and yet I feel like years have passed. I've met so many people and been so many places and had so many conversations. I'm exhausted. I can't wait for the weekend!