Tag Archives: Arrival

Getting Acquainted

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, so I thought I’d take the time to quickly update what’s been going on.

On our first weekend here, we ventured out into Florence to acquaint ourselves with the city. From the Villa (and from my apartment), it’s pretty easy to get into the city center via bus.


Alan, our director, gives the story behind Ospedale degli Innocenti, which was originally a children’s orphanage.

We also found the public library in Florence, where many Italian students go to study and hang out with friends. (It looks quite different from the libraries that I know!)


First up-close view of the Duomo!

First up-close view of the Duomo!

And, of course, this isn’t Florence without stumbling upon a statue or two.


Sorry for the nudity, Grandma! It’s in the name of art!




I also got my first gelato of the semester at a place near Piazza della Signoria.


Over the weekend, I also moved into my host family’s apartment. More photos of that later, but it’s been a wonderful experience so far!

The outside of the apartment building

The outside of the apartment building

During orientation, Alan took us on a “walking tour” of Fiesole. Turns out, it was more of a hike than a walking tour, but that’s just semantics. We hiked up to Piazzale Leonardo, where Leonardo Da Vinci famously tested out his flying machines.

On Sunday, we had some time to get lost in the city, armed with a map in hand. One of the highlights was crossing the Arno right at sunset, when the sun casts a beautiful golden glow over the buildings.

Last week, we began our first week of classes, a fairly condensed schedule since we only have class four days a week. After my Italian class every morning, I have some combination of the other three courses that I’m taking this semester: a government course on EU Identity and Globalization, a history course on the Late Renaissance, and another government course on Italian Politics since 1796. In between, I get some reading done in the library or music room at the Villa.

On Wednesday, I tagged along with the Art History class to visit the Bargello and Uffizi––two of the great art museums located here in Florence. Last Friday, we took a group field trip to meet local artists and paint our own scarves for our City of Florence class, a 1-credit course that encourages us to get out and explore an aspect of the city.

Over the weekend, Julia and I decided to jump right into sightseeing, pulling off an exhausting 12-hour day at Museo dell Piedre Dure, Museo di San Marco and the church, and several more hours at the Uffizi. I also bought a student annual pass, which will hopefully allow for many more museum visits over the next several months. We put it to use on Sunday, by going to visit Michelangelo’s iconic David at the Accademia.

A doppo!

Are you kidding me?

The beach!

“Are you kidding me?”

Those were the words that Alex and I kept repeating to ourselves over the course of yesterday and today as we walked around in shock—in shock at the view from our apartments’ living rooms, in shock at the almost never-ending stretch of beaches, in shock at how beautiful this city truly is.

We spent yesterday and today walking around the city, trying to orientate ourselves as much as possible to where things are and where we should go. (Yet sometimes, we managed to get lost almost every time we tried to get back to the residence.)

View from our apartment balcony at sunset.

View from our apartment balcony at sunset.

There are many parts of Alanya that just scream TOURISTS COME HITHER, like the continuous call of vendors to their restaurants and shops or the live camel photo op along the main stretch of Atatürk. Hordes of bikini-ed and speedo-ed bodies crowd the beaches during this time of year; at night, you can hear the throb of club music down below even from our apartment balcony on the hill.

Yet there are other parts that are truly remarkable, like the cliffs that shoot straight down into the Mediterranean Sea at Cleopatra Beach or the sunset behind the castle on the hill. I could spend all day in the wonderfully warm and salty water; at night, city lights below shimmer through our apartment windows.

I can’t wait to watch Alanya transition from summer to fall, as the tourists lug their suitcases and leathery tans home and many businesses close up shop. Of course, it’s lovely to be able to walk around in a swimsuit all day, but it will be interesting to discuss with locals how tourism has changed their picturesque town.

My classes began today with an introduction to one of the economics courses that I’ll be taking this fall, “Turkey and the European Union.” After our orientation tour of Turkey, it will be nice to finally settle into a routine of classes and reading, as mundane as that sounds.

After a wonderful afternoon spent at the beach, I’m settling in for the night and planning on getting some reading done before I go to bed. But of course, it’s not so much of a study grind when you’ve got the view from on top.