Well, my time in Italy has come to an end. As I reflect back on my time in Florence, I could not have dreamed of a better study abroad experience. For once in my life I lived in the moment. I never realized what effects traveling has on you until I lived in Florence. You get to know your true personality and characteristics that make you unique. I’m not saying that I was a complete stranger to myself, I had an idea of who I was. I guess in everyone’s life there comes a time where you see the person you are and the person you ought to be. The person that I ought to be is someone who takes in every moment, enjoys the little things, indulges in all things that make me happy and most importantly believe in myself. Now, I didn’t come to this reality by myself. Through my Italian self discovery I had some help along the way.
The first person that helped me was Jen or J Block as I now call her. When I first met J I was stranded outside the apartment, jet lagged and pretty disoriented. So disoriented that I thought she was my roommate Maddie’s friend. That next morning she was the first one to get up, since I had been up since 7 I figured that maybe she would join me for breakfast. We ended up leaving at 11 or so which was so bizarre for a breakfast time for me. Then we ended up getting lost and eating at around 1. I kept thinking to myself, “does she know that we are in the ghetto right now? I’m going to get abducted.” Little did I know that I was no where near the ghetto. After surviving that, we ended up hanging out for the rest of the day. I would say a mile stone in our friendship was when we were sharing our life stories over a bottle of vino at La Giostra. After that, we became more like sisters than friends. Jen is a true blue.Throughout these six weeks I probably wouldn’t have made it without her. I think she and I both came here with the goal of pushing ourselves to get outside of our bubbles and really get back to our centers of who we are. Jen is someone who is a goof troop who loves to laugh. I can’t tell you how many belly laughs she and I shared. Jen also taught me about being more conscientious of what I’m eating and what the best fabrics are. I don’t know many people that would give up their own bedroom in a ground floor apartment to move to a third floor apartment with no AC. My favorite memory she and I shared was at the Jack Johnson concert. We were in the stands and Jack was doing his thing and we were just dancing like idiots. Just living, which is how it should be. I’m excited to see what other adventures Jen and I share throughout our lives.
The second person is Ashlee. She and I first met outside a glass shop as we were waiting for the appertivo with SAI. The next day we realized we were in the same class. We first bonded over our love of croissants and all things Italian food. I think another key note of our friendship is the fact that we are extremely sarcastic. She and I could just volley back and forth with sarcastic comments. I once tried to match her eating abilities but failed miserably and was put into a food coma. She’s another good egg. She is extremely humble and down to earth. Even though she finds enjoyment in making fun of my accent. It’s okay though because she’s from Wis-cauhn-son. She may have a more distinct accent than I do. Something that Ashlee taught me was to just be myself.
I can also say that my roommates from the first three weeks shaped my experience as well. Jamie, Meg and Maddie are girls that live in the moment. They took advantage of every opportunity and ran with it. They put themselves out there and made friends which pushed me to do the same.
I also have to say that my teachers in the kitchen and classroom also taught me a lot about myself. The first is Ciccilia, the first three weeks she taught me Food, Culture and Society. For the remaining three weeks she was a chef in the kitchen. Ciccilia is a true Florentine. She was born here and has lived here for her entire life. She taught me so much about the culture of Italy. She was the first to introduce the idea of moderation to me. Well, the Italian version of moderation. She also taught me about picking the best quality of ingredients for cooking. She was probably one of the most friendliest professors I have ever had. Any questions that I had she was always happy to answer usually with the response “verbene….”
The second teacher or Chef was Victoria. She and I had a rocky start to say the least. During our first class I was in a terrible mood, which I shouldn’t have been, but she told me I needed to be nice. But you know when there is an extremely annoying girl in your class that you can’t stand and it’s just hard to push through it? Well, that was that day for me. So I left there with a bruised ego and not wanting to go back to that class for the life of me. However, I ended up going back because I had such a great first week experience with Sarroino. I am so glad that I did. I honestly think she taught me the most about the culinary arts. She taught me everything from the basics of cutting to nutritional value. She was actually a private chef on a yacht, but quit a few years ago to be around her grandchildren. She taught me to be open-minded about people. Our first impressions of each other were nothing pleasant. Now, it was hard to say our goodbyes. She also taught me to be mindful of what I put into my body. She believes sugar is a silent killer and it tears up your body, so every recipe she cuts the sugar by 2/3. I honestly felt like I was a sponge when I was around her, I soaked up everything I could.
The third teacher that made an impact on me was Mossimo. He taught me so much about wine that I could go on for days talking about it. He taught me more than just wine though. He taught me about living and thinking outside of the box. Each class he posed questions to the class about our thoughts on happiness, success and the difference in food and wine in the States and Italy. In sum, he doesn’t understand why Americans believe that they always have to be working more than they have to. Instead, he believes that you do what you have to and then take time to enjoy life with your family. He also thinks the types of wine a person drinks is a good way to read people. It tells a little something about their life. Mossimo also gave me hope in the idea that there are still men out there that know how to court women. He said that he remembered his first dinner party he hosted at 16. He remembers the menu and who he invited. He also told us about how he used to plan every aspect of the date he was going on. Whether it was the ambiance of a restaurant or a wine pairing for his meal he was preparing. He still practices this today and he is 55. He was telling us that he plans an activity for his wife to do every day so she doesn’t get bored. He was shocked when the class told him that guys in America really don’t know anything about wine, or put that much effort into planning a date.
All in all, I cannot wait to go back to Italy. I’m also looking forward to my future travels. Right now I’m going through a butter detox, but when I get done I will be practicing my recipes I learned. If you would like to keep up with my cooking or wine tasting, feel free to keep following!