Monday, May 26, 2014

Week #56: HELLO FLORENCE! (05.19.14 - 05.25.14)

First full day at Florence: it was amazing. I'm still in culture shock mode though, I went for orientation in the morning and we almost end up in the other side of the city if we hadn't seen Jim in the entrance of the Palazzi center. We got early so we walked half a block into a tiny bar and had some breakfast. I had a small pizza and it was really good. After orientation we went and explored the city, we did some shopping and had lunch in a cute terrace from a restaurant called Mamma Mia. I had minestrone because I felt heavy from the pizza I had from breakfast and the soup was really good. We (my roommates and I) then went for a wine workshop they were having and we got to taste red and white wine. I kinda liked the red wine over the white wine but it's still a taste I need to acquire. We went on a shopping tour with one of the professors teaching this semester and she showed us where are the best places to get our stuff. My feet felt like dead all day long, I shouldn't have worn my Toms. We went for dinner in a fancy place because it was the welcoming dinner and we had three courses plus dessert! I didn't eat that much though, because there were courses I didn't like (spinach muffins? Yuck!). We headed back to our apartment and I decided to sleep in the couch rather than my room because it's colder here. First full day in Florence: SUCCESS!

First day of classes in Florence: 50/50. The wine class was a little boring, and thankfully I have one of my roommates in there with me but the professor is kind of boring, it's the same from the wine workshop on Monday. The good part is the wine, it was good, it was a sparkling wine. After my first class I went to my second one but first I stopped by a restaurant to get something to eat and I was really against the clock; I had spaghetti and it was really good. I then headed to the place I thought I had my Italian class but I was wrong! So I arrived late at the real place and I was the last one, how embarrassing. The class is cool though, and the teacher is really nice. At night I went out with two of my roommates and went to a pub, I had my first piña colada and it was tolerable, I don't really like alcohol. I also took a few sips of beer from my roommates and it honestly tasted like liquid alcoholic bread .-.

On Wednesday I went to my two classes and thank God I didn't fall asleep or anything in my wine class, we had white wine this time. I love my Italian classes, because I like the language itself. I stayed at home that night because I'm still jet lagged, and so did two of my roommates; the bad news was that we were out of wifi and hot water! Yes, I had to shower with cold water :S

Oh Thursday, what a good and busy day. After classes I went to Western Union because since I couldn't take money out of the ATM my mom sent me money and she was all worried, but right next to the Western Union booth I saw an ATM machine and decided to try it out and it worked! It's extremeley close to our apartment so that's a plus, it's in El Duomo. Then I stopped by a place in front of El Duome to get pasta to go, and I ordered my meal completely in Italian (excpet when I asked them if they had to go boxes)! I had tortellini :) I ate back in the apartment while my roommates were on their computers and we just chilled and talked. At 9 pm I headed to the train station to go to Berlin! The train got delayed though, 50 minutes! I shared a booth, like those on Harry Potter! With a Mexican couple, a black guy, an overflowing lady sitting next to me (fml) and a teenager on my other side. The Mexican couple was really nice to me and we talked a bit, they also helped me with some questions I had about the train system.  

I tried sleeping on the train but it was so freaking uncomfortable! The view was really nice though, this first train departured at around 11 pm the day before and we got to Munich at around 7:15 am. I lost my second train to Berlin, it departured at 7:13 am, I literally saw it start when I got off my train, but since it wasn't my fault the train got delayed they gave me another itinerary. I took a train to Nünberg (I thing it was Nünberg) and from then I took another one to Berlin. These seats where a lot more comfortable, they where like airplane seats and I was able to sleep. When I got here I walked from the train station to my hotel (around 100 m away) and then headed out because I was starving, I had had nothing to eat since 7 am and it was already 2:45 pm! I walked around the city trying to look for a place to eat but all I saw were cafe's and I was craving a hot meal. It took me an hour to find this place called Restaurant Alvis, and it was this really fancy restaurant and I had a typical meal from Berlin, which I got to know after I ordered it so I was lucky because I really wanted to eat German food. It was a fished rolled up on top of what they call a potato pancake (i.e. Hashbrown). It was only €12 and it was really good. I left to keep exploring the city and I saw some of the big monuments you see on tour and took a picture of them, I got lost when trying to come back but found out my way at the end thank God. I was nervous because I didn't want to come back after nightfall but when I got back it didn't get dark until 9 pm! I realized how used i was to Florence, even if I was there for less than a week, the streets in Florence are friendly and easy to follow whereas here in Berlin everything is big and industrial. It makes me appreciate the little time I'll have in Florence this summer. 

On Saturday I hopped on one of those city sightseeing buses, I was originally going to go to the red city sightseeing busses but I found another one that had more destinations. I went to the continental breakfast of the hotel given that there are not a lot of places to eat here in Berlin, and it wasn't free. I paid €5.90 for two rolls of bread with butter, three slices of ham, cereal and a glass of orange juice. With the tour bus I stopped by the Berlin Zoo (it was huge! I wasn't able to finish it but got amazng shots), the Berlin Zoo train station to walk to a near sports good store and finally buy my World's Cup shirt from Germany! I also got off at the Sony Center because I wanted to visit the Legoland Discovery Center but it turns out that it's only for kids... So instead Iwent and grabbed lunch at this kind of fancy but not so much restaurant, I ordered meatballs and it was disgusting... It was cold and not good, I ate less than half of it. For dinner I got food to go at a noodles place, and it was really good! I wish we had one in Panama, the place's name is Wok To Walk. I got nack to the hotel and bought my first beer: a Beck's Green Lemon with 2.5% of alcohol volume, and it wasn't that bad, it actually tasted like Mountain Dew with alcohol lol. Then I fell asleep around 9 pm, I even forgot to shower. 

I woke up at 3 am on Sunday because I fell asleep so early and had another early breakfast at the hotel. I decided to use this day to find as much German candy/chocolate and take it back to Panama, I googled the nearest super market which was 3 km away and I walked. I luckily encountered the Berlin Wall in the way and got to take pictures of it which I had no chance the day before because the bus was so fast. When I got to the placed called "Supermart" I realized it was a furniture store... FML. I walked 3 km for nothing, but also the REAL supermarkets nearby were closed on Sundays... So I decided to try the train station "7-Eleven's" and found plenty :) The train ride back was smooth this time, no delays and plenty of space in the wagon since we were 4 people out of 6 seats. I meat a backpacking 25 y/o girl (thank God because the other two guys in my wagon seemed creepy) and she was from Chile, she was very interesting and made me feel safer. Another thing, I'm for sure feeling the withdrawal from home early on. It's not like I'm having a bad time or anything but I was home for just a short while before coming here and I didn't get to soak it all up, also this is nothing like Taiwan where I was with all my best friends, closest friends, boyfriend and the grades didn't affect my GPA. I miss my mom and family, and my boyfriend a lot. Also I've got good news: the second week of July, my grandparents, mom, aunt, Patty and I are going to the Mall of America!

Things I learned from Italy this week:
  • People buy their groceries right before dinner to eat a fresh meal, so avoid that time to go shopping. 
  • Women wear boots a lot. 
  • You cannot wash your clothes at the same time as using your over because there will be a blackout (hasn't happened to me luckily). 
  • It's okay to drink wine with every meal. 
  • You have to walk everywhere!