Beautifully Overwhelming: My First Week Abroad

Beautifully overwhelming are two words that describe my first week in Florence, Italy. I’m not going to lie, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows–transitioning to a new city is hard. I’ve done it before in Kent, New York and Boston, but a new city in a different country that speaks a different language brings on new challenges. The first week was a combination of exhaustion from traveling, jet lag and the urge to get out and explore this mesmerizing city. Naps, aimlessly walking the streets and dealing with the immense heat without air conditioning were prominent first week activities.

On our first official evening, we adventured up to Piazzale Michelangelo. It was 100* and sunny, but the climb and the sweat was worth the view. The whole city of Florence was laid out right in front of my eyes and it was, and will always be, beautiful.


Every day I walk past Piazza del Duomo and I don’t think I will ever get sick of that amazing view. However, I will get sick of the millions of tourists and the guys trying to sell me selfie sticks.

And I will never forget the first time I crossed the Arno watching the sun set across Ponte Vecchio.


During our week of orientation professors showed us around the city picking out their favorite cafe’s and gelato shops along the way while showing us important landmarks around Florence.

Retail therapy was much needed this week as well, as our landlord said ,”you can blame anything that happens the first couple weeks on culture shock.” Brandy Melville, Zara, H&M, Channel, Longchamp, Gucci and much more are just a short walk from my apartment. Along with the Gucci Museum and Ferragamo Museum which are school ‘field trips.’

When we weren’t at school we were probably eating, I think I could eat at a different gelateria or pizzeria everyday and still have more to explore at the end of these four months. There was also a lot of walking and wandering. Walking to go find a gelato place and ending up at Ponte Vecchio, just wandering to discover something new or just to orient myself with my surroundings. Adjusting is challenging, but each day gets better and better.


Piazza Santa Maria Novella, including the only grass I’ve seen in Florence so far.

Now that the first week “honeymoon” phase is (somewhat) complete, it’s time to start classes and truly become a local with a routine–or at least try because that clearly doesn’t happen over night, especially since I don’t speak Italian.

Florence Fun Fact: The streets are named after shoe makers, not politicians or officials, shoe makers.

This weeks’ favorite gelato: Grom


Chocolate and Lemon gelato.

This weeks’ favorite restaurant(s): We ate out a lot this week due to settling in, but my favorite places would be a tie between Il Porcospino and Tijuana. Il Porcospino is a traditional Italian trattoria and everything was made fresh in house. Not only was the food amazing, but the staff treated us like family. Tijuana was a Mexican style restaurant with delicious margaritas and tacos. It was different from any traditional Mexican restaurant in the United States, but was amazing in it’s own way.



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