Getting into a routine between going to classes and exploring the city has made my transition into a city girl much easier. Initially, coming here I was terrified and nervous, always living on the outskirts of cities like New York and New London (…it’s technically a city), I’ve always been a suburban girl, never feeling at ease in the hectic city life. ( This is mostly pertaining to growing up in the suburbs of NYC than New Lo for clarification)
Florence wasn’t a love at first sight relationship but rather I considered Florence to be an intimidatingly charming intellectual that I was afraid to approach even though I knew we would get along.
In the short span of 15 days I’ve gotten more comfortable with the city, never worrying about getting lost because the Duomo is my North Star.
I wanted to write this post because I feel like people who study abroad expect there to be an instantaneously infatuation with your new home for a few months, similar to expectations for college. But everything takes time and everyone takes their own time to adjust.
For my creative writing class we had to write our first impressions of Florence and this is an excerpt of what I wrote:
No one warned me that the garbage was going to smell so terrible; terrible enough to distract me from admiring the city’s beautiful historic churches and monuments. I walk by the dreaded blue-topped containers and inhale the pungent scent of rotting garbage. For a second, it causes me to lose my train of thought. I look around at the locals to see if they are making the same disgusted faces as I am, but they just walk past it, undisturbed. And the dog shit. I didn’t realize that I was going to have to avoid small piles of it on the sidewalk
These things aren’t mentioned in the travel books. But oddly, I find them comforting. There is something nice about finding the imperfections of a new city earlier on, especially a European one, where here you’re made to think that everything is better than in America. Living outside of New York City and visiting frequently, I can honestly say that the garbage smells worse in Florence. Which is weird since the population is a small 370,000 to New York City’s massive 8 million. Does the Florence government not care about the their street sanitation as much as I do? Or maybe Florentines have grown up living with their awful smelling garbage that it doesn’t bother them anymore. Or maybe I am part of a small percentage of people with hypersensitivity to garbage and bad smells in general. The answer is unclear, yet the smell still lingers.
The Dean of the College said that when students first arrive in Florence, there is sometimes a Disneyland affect; that living in a foreign city can feel surreal and it can feel like nothing bad can happen to them. I don’t think I’ve had that experience. More than once, I have been inches away from stepping in dog shit, and have had to ignore the eager men urging me to buy their fake leather bags while simultaneously telling me to marry them. I like finding the imperfections of Florence, and as much as I am in love with this magical city, the shitty smells are what make it real.
I know I was a little bit cynical (or maybe a lot) but I forgot that beautiful places can have flaws too. I still make a face when I pass by the garbage cans, but now I’m not mad about it anymore.
I know I have said this previously, but I really am looking forward to the next few months. In 15 days, Florence has become less intimidating and soon enough he’ll be my new boyfriend. (JK countries can’t be boyfriends)