One “Grazie” At a Time…


After almost missing the connecting flight in Paris, and being stopped and searched at customs, I finally have arrived and settled here in Florence.

Four days have passed here and I’m still not convinced that I am on the European sleep schedule yet. All I know is between walking 20,000 steps a day and dodging Vespas and bicycles…I need at least 2 naps a day.

Adjusting to Italian life has proven to be more natural than I expected. Becoming accustomed to the slow leisurely walks and the tiny cappuccinos are just a few of examples of the hurdles I’ve faced as an American. The language barrier has proven to be a problem everyday, although almost every Italian I have come in contact with can speak English.

Most Italians that I have spoken to have known that I am American before I even open my mouth. Whether it is the way I dress or the confused look I’m sure I wear as I struggle to read the menu in front of me, I am hoping my language class will help me to assimilate better.

My apartment is as cute as it is quaint. I, together with six other girls, have nested and begun our new lives here together. We have already booked a trip to Venice this Saturday for the famous Carnival; which should be a fun adventure for all of us.

These past couple of days have brought a whirlwind of emotions: excitement, fear, happiness, and sadness. I was taken aback by the amount of homesickness I feel… or rather the people-sickness, as my world is far more interesting here than it was there. I find myself wishing I could share these new experiences with those back at home.

But, all the same, I am ready for classes to begin and for my love for Florence to grow.

And again, I’ll finish off with a story:

First night in Florence, I was walking with my roommate down our block. I have been trying to remember to practice what little Italian I know, and use it with the people I run into. However, being new to this, I often times forget and speak in English.

An Italian woman held the door open for me as we were walking into our apartment building, and I instinctively replied: “Thank you”, to which I hear the woman mock to her child, “thank you, thank you”, in what I can only assume was an attempt at a squeaky American accent.

I’m not offended by any means, but I’d like to thank this woman; because, although she doesn’t know it, every time I am about to say thank you, I hear her tiny little voice in my head, bite my tongue…and force out a bad-accented “Grazie” instead.




Cassandra, a biology major with a minor in creative writing at New Paltz, chose to study abroad to quench to her crave for adventure and search for understanding different cultures.

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