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Posted by on in Italy: Florence

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This study abroad trip is not my first time in Florence, but this could not be more different from the first time that I visited as solely a tourist. There are basic skills of survival that a hotel will provide you with: breakfast, a cleaning service and help with taxis, buses and directions throughout the city. Here, there are markets to find, gas stoves to manually light and a gorgeous, antique Italian apartment to respect and give life to.

I wasn't expecting to walk into an apartment with high ceilings, floor to ceiling draperies covering the gigantic windows or replicas of Van Gogh pieces on the walls. Athena deems this student housing, and it was not the American-student-dorm place I had expected. We are given the full Italian lifestyle experience, bidet and all.

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Posted by on in Italy: Tuscania

After months of planning and excitement, we arrived in Tuscania on Thursday night, excited to begin our stay in Italia!  Our host parents, Mario and Irene, and their daughter, Michela, immediately made us feel at home in their beautiful house in the center of Tuscania. Tuscania is a beautiful city, and we are so excited to call it our home for the month of July. Its small population of about 8,000 inhabitants gives it a very friendly, small town feel,  and everything we need is only a short walk away. The streets are made with cobblestones and lined with flowers, and the view of the hills and mountains of the surrounding land is incredibly picturesque. The town is home to the beautiful San Pietro chapel, which we visited on our first weekend in Tuscania. This beautiful, old church embodies the simple tranquility and beauty evident throughout the city.

 

During the week, we spend our time attending classes in the morning, doing homework, and hanging out with our host family. This past week, we were able to do a few things in Tuscania. One afternoon, we went shopping in Tuscania with our host sister. Another afternoon we made gnocchi (a classic Italian dish that we learned was eaten every Thursday by the people in and around Tuscania) with our host family. A couple times,  we went out with the other students at the school for gelato at this famous gelateria. After only a few visits to the local cafès (called bars here in Italy), the drink Caffè Ginseng quickly became a favorite. This drink is one of many that are different from common coffee orders one can have in America. 

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Posted by on in Italy: Florence

It's my first day back home and its the first time I've been able to sit down and write about my last week in Italy. With Finals, packing up, and traveling to Rome, I've was rather productive. This past Tuesday was the feast of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of Florence. My roommate and I went to the mass in the cathedral. There was a procession from the baptistry into the cathedral of banners, men in renaissance clothing, priests, and cardinals. The main alter was decorated with beautiful red and white flowers. The mass had an opera ensemble and full choir along with a live orchestra. This was the most beautiful mass I had ever attended and I'm glad I decided to go and see it! My suit mates and I took the afternoon to relax and prep for finals. I had a paper to finish, a group presentation to review, and some Italian to practice.  That night we went to see the fireworks on a crowed bridge over the Arno. The fireworks were good, but not as good as Fourth of July Fireworks. 

I had forgotten how much I dislike prepping and studying for finals- even more so when it's during the summer. It's hard to think that I've only taken a class for a month and now I'm done. In Italian philosophy we learned about some of the prominent Renaissance schools of thought and the philosophers that advocated them. The most interesting part for me was looking at how philosophical thought evolved through the Renaissance. 

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I recently just came back from my site visit to Paros Island, Greece! I tried a great variety of traditional Greek dishes, and I am excited to share with you some of the food I had!

The Greek Dinner

First of all, before I get into food, I want to talk about the Greek style of dinner. Having dinner with someone in Greece is almost always a social event, and the Greeks will do their best to make it feel that way. Dinner can and often does take up to two to three hours, so don't expect a quick meal if you sit down somewhere. It isn't just about the food; it's about taking the time to enjoy the company you have. So, grab some friends and sit somewhere. Enjoy all that a Greek restaurant has to offer! 

Beverages (V)

Almost all beverages in Greece, including water, have a price. Don't be surprised when water for the table is typically around 1.25-2 euros. Hence, it is generally customary to drink the house wine or fresh juice with your meal. It's what the locals do!

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Posted by on in Greece: Paros Island

We all forget things when it comes to traveling. Paros Island, Greece is no exception. Having just come back from there, I can tell you right now that I forgot to pack at least three things that would have come in handy. I have learned a few lessons about traveling on my site visit, and I'm happy to share with you these shreds of wisdom on what is easily replaceable and affordable and to what is not.

Power Converter/Adapter Average Price in Greece: 1-30 Euros

These are available at a variety of places, especially in Athens. I was fortunate in that my travel companion brought two, but I've seen some in low quality "One-Euro stores" ones to some much nicer ones capable of higher wattage in electronic stores as well. It depends on what you device needs wattage-wise. Also, many power outlets in Greece, especially in Paros, have very deep outlets, so make sure you get one that will fit and allow you to plug your things in. 

Soap/Shampoo/Other Hygiene Items Average Price: Varies

I bought all my toiletries there so I didn't have to worry about security and liquids. Toothpaste, Soap, Shampoo, and deodorant were like 15ish euros all together. Shaving razors were quite a bit more though, around 12 euros for 6 good quality razors. I shared with someone else, which definitely helped in lowering the cost of those. Mind you, I bought these at the airport; if you can make it the two days to Paros, I recommend it. Things are generally much cheaper on the island than they are in Athens.  

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