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Athena Blogs

Athena Study Abroad students share their experiences with amazing blogs.
Valerie Thueson

Going Native and Cultural Curiosity

It was not until a friend of friend from America came to visit that I realized how much I knew about Florence. Over the past couple months, my experience here and with the guidance of my History of Florence professor, I had so much to share about this amazing city with an American who just wanted to learn some things. I knew exactly where to take everyone for good food and a gorgeous view. As we walked around I could share the stories that streets and buildings held. I could explain the things frescoes depict and the basis of churches. I walked into shops and ordered in Italian. I walk the streets, no longer with the lost puppy dog face. I have people stop me in the streets to ask for directions. I’ve had many people speak to me in Italian because they did not know I was American. I know to dress for the season and wear darker colors to blend in. I walk around the city no longer feeling like I must take a picture at every second as if it’s the first and last time I see a monument. I simply walk to enjoy the beautiful city in front of me and below me. Then at the end of the day I am excited to return to this place called home that over looks the Arno river.

 

Now I am and always will be an American. I’m proud of our country and all who have fought for what we have, but I think it is very important to be a cultured person. Florence has helped me so much in that area of my life. I had no idea how similar and different our countries can be. While I have traveled to Japan, I did not have as much time there as I have here to experience another culture more in depth. My biggest concern now is that I will lose some of the things I have gained here when I return to America. Most importantly the way I have advanced in Italian language since I have been immersed in it everyday. 

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Jennifer Latchford

Two Weeks and Counting

Somehow we only have two weeks left....and I don't know how that happened. I feel like it was just yesterday I was nervously sitting on my couch waiting to leave for the airport. It's so strange how something that was so uncertain to me has become my new normal. I'm still in awe that this is my life and I think that'll last forever.

 
Yesterday we went to Belfast which was very eye opening to me. They still live in such a state of hostility, with the peace wall and the separate neighborhoods. I went with the history class (I'm not taking that class I just like history)... and learned so much about the culture and the people who live there. If you go to Ireland, definitely take the day trip up to Belfast, it's worth the trip. Remember your passport since it is a different country! 
 
 
I'm going to be posting a video the last week. I haven't been doing that because of traveling, but there will be one more! 
 
Until next week,
Jenni
 
 
 
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Jennifer Latchford

Don't Blink

The time is really getting away from me...everything is going so fast especially now that I have finals to think of. This past week I spent a little more time in Dublin, which was really nice since I feel like I have been traveling a lot lately. On Friday we went to Paris for the weekend which was beautiful and everything I imagined it would be. It's funny over here because they obviously don't celebrate thanksgiving, so right after Halloween everything is completely decorated for Christmas. That goes for both Paris and Dublin where we attended so many different Christmas events and wandered through all sorts of Christmas markets. The season starts November 1st over here!! Today is Thanksgiving, and although it's a little different not being at home for the holiday, I have my sister and two of my best friends visiting me. We are planning on having dinner with some of my friends from Griffith and making it the best Thanksgiving yet! 
 

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
 
   
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Valerie Thueson

The Election in Italy

            When we were all planning our trip, we knew that we would be abroad during the election and it may be difficult for some of us. Personally, it was not difficult, but it was strange. I myself am not a very political person and I was rather surprised that it would play such a part in everyday life here in Italy. Especially going to school with so many Americans and even out in the streets of Florence. Many times during my time here I would over hear people discussing the politics of America and how we seemed to be lost on what to do this year. I heard from many professors as the election came near that we would be okay if Donald Trump became president because Italy once had Silvio Berlusconi who was apparently very much like Trump.

            Well the day came and while it was very late in America, all of us here were following the results as we got ready class that day. I was gathering up my stuff for class when I heard my housemate Katherine yell Donald Trump won! Donald Trump is our president!While Katherine wanted Trump to win over Hilary she went on the voice just how crazy it was that he won and that she could not believe. I myself was a little in awe and went on to text my mom to see how everyone was reacting back there. My mom was a little surprised as was my grandfather, meanwhile my grandmas seemed pissed even though she honestly knows very little about politics. The most strange part was to just go on with our day here and that since we are all here, there was really no talk of the election in class. We were all pretty quiet, but I think our minds were racing on if the election was really over already.

            Some students I spoke with were pissed and voiced their disdain for Trump. However, I was not too concerned. The people have spoken, there was a silent majority, and whether I completely agreed with him or not on every issue, Donald Trump is in fact going to be our next president. I think it will be different, but maybe that is a good thing.

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Valerie Thueson

Florence Soccer Game

             Earlier this semester, I had the opportunity to see a soccer game here in Florence. My roommate was going with her friend from America that was visiting her and invited me to join them. It had been on my Florence bucket list to go to a game, so I figured this was my opportunity. We attempted to buy the tickets online, but had trouble with the website and decided to just get the tickets there. As it goes for most nights in Florence,  we planned to walk. However, we saw the stadium seemed to far to make it in time. Then, the choices came down to bus or taxi. We wondered around attempting to find the right bus, but it was taking far too long so we called for a taxi instead. The woman driving was very aggressive in her driving and talking. She yelled at many people as she drove around and we sat in the back in silence hoping the ride would not be much longer. We ran out of the cab and to the ticket booth just in time to make our way into the stadium as the game was starting. As we made our way up the stairs, I was shocked to realize just how large the stadium truly was. Besides the bright green field, all I could see was purple filling up the seats. We found ourselves three seats down at the bottom and I quickly realized I would probably not be in that seat most of the night.

            I soon realized that this night was huge for Florence, as it was their big game against Rome. I still had no idea how good Florences team was, but with the positivity the crowd brought I had hope for a good game.  The funny thing is that I have never been to a big city soccer game like this in America, so while I had no comparison, I was really glad that my first time seeing such an event would be a game in Firenze, the city I have fallen in love with.

             Before we knew it, we were cheering along with he crowd. We did not even know half of what we were chanting as it was in Italian, but once you picked up the beat it was easy to follow along. Right before halftime, I ran downstairs to grab something to eat and what was there waiting for me? A hot dog. I suppose its an international thing. The game had about fifteen minutes left and the scoreboard still read 0-0. Considering it was a school night I begin to worry I was going to be there very late if the game had to run into overtime or penalty kicks. I brushed off the thought and rejoined the crowd. Many men stood waving huge flags that held the Florentine symbol. Then it happened. Florence scored. The joy and yelling that overtook the crowd was incredible. The noise reverberated in my head the rest of the night. Soon there after, the timer ran out and Florence had done it. Florence beat Rome. The smiling faces around me filled me with joy. I stood observing it all for sometime and there was this phenomenon that I got to be a part of, where no one was different, no one saw each other as strangers or disregarded us because we were Americans. In the moment of the game everyone comes together as one, as a family. We are all cheering for the same team. It was a beautiful thing to see and be apart of. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity.

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