Avoid The Diner!
Italian food is amazing, but there will come a time in your first couple months abroad when you will find yourself unable to imagine eating another pizza or plate of pasta. This is when someone you think is your friend will tell you about Florence’s worst-kept secret: The Diner on Via dell’Acqua. Suddenly your mouth will water at the thought of a fat ass burger or syrupy pancakes all up in your face. It’ll sound great, but control yourself! Opened by a very sweaty British dude a few years ago, The Diner offers all sorts of American delights and they are almost all slightly off. Not only is it not as satisfying as you think it’s going to be, but you feel and look like a total asshole! You’re in Italy, for God’s sake. Eat a burger when you get home.
Think about your shoes
The streets of Florence are no joke. They are extensive, uneven and ready to tear your shoes to shreds. Your options are either to get some really good quality kicks in the beginning, or accept that you’ll be buying new ones along the way (though an excuse to go shopping is not the worst thing in the world).
Be hungry for dinner
Your host family wants to take care of you, and in Italy that means cramming as much food into you as possible. Dinners are going to be a big deal. Eat lunch early and keep it small because you’ll be needing that appetite.
Don’t take too many pictures
It seems to be everyone’s instinct nowadays to photograph every cobblestone they come across so they can post it on Facebook and show all their friends how cool they are. This isn’t what studying abroad should be about. This experience is about exactly that: having an experience, and it’s hard to do when you’re looking at everything through a camera’s lens. Be present and and stop worrying about trying to get the best angle on David’s perfectly curved bum. Instead, step back, take a deep breath and think about how dope it is to be doing what you’re doing and how lucky you are to be where you are.
Above all, get ready for the best goddamn year of your life. You’re about to meet some incredible people, see some of the most beautiful sights in the world and learn more than you thought you ever could. They’re not joking when they say this is something you will tell your kids about.
Photos of the Italian Life by Emily Alben