After reading the book about Brunilleschi and how he built the infamous dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, I was excited to actually go inside. Our group was supposed to meet at the duomo at 9am. My roommates left to go get breakfast, I had lost track of time, and had to stay behind to finish getting ready. I had only been in Florence about 14 hours at this point, and had only been to the apartments. I didn't even remember how to get there. I tried to go to Amber's place so we could walk together since she has a good sense of direction. I call her Dora the Explorer because she just wanders by herself to find cool places and shortcuts in the city. She's so fearless. Anyway, I couldn't even find my way THERE. I was so worried, because I was in Italy, with no one, not knowing how to say almost anything in Italian, with no map, and almost no idea where the duomo was. And I was late. Good thing we have a sweet view of the city from our balcony, so at least I knew which direction to go. After a few frantic minutes of walking, the duomo came into sight. I was so relieved, but still had no idea what time it was or where my group was meeting. I walked around the building twice, no group. There were tons of tourists, and big groups of European school groups walking around, smokin, lookin tough. They wear a lot of black, I've noticed...which doesn't help with the intimidation factor. I've never felt like I stuck out so much in my life. That's a lie, but you get the picture. It turns out I was the FIRST one there and not the last. When I saw our director, Bethanne, and her son Chase, I wanted to hug them.
It's so crazy how vulnerable you feel in another country. I wouldn't think anything of finding my way alone in Provo. Moving here has made me reorient myself with the world in a lot of ways. I have to rely on myself a lot more here, in different ways. I have to find my way in a huge city, walk EVERYWHERE, negotiate in two languages with store owners, remember directions. I'm definitely not in Kansas anymore. Also I watch my surroundings more. I am constantly worrying about pickpockets, cars, and making sure I have my valuable items close to me at all times.
Well, we finally went into the duomo to hike all 500 steps in a dark stairway to the top. It was definitely exhausting, but so worth the view. There was graffiti everywhere in the stairway, surrounding signs that said, "Please don't write on the walls." Good job, Florence. Way to go. It's amazing how much more I got out of the experience because I had read the book about the making of the duomo beforehand. I really appreciate all the work that goes into its construction, how revolutionary Brunelleschi's inventions were, and how long it took. How crazy is that that the building was built like 500 years ago? It's ridiculous! And awesome! I have so much more research to do about Italy, I don't think I'll ever catch up.
While we were waiting for everyone to come back down, we were sitting around eating fruit. Heidi started talking about how her boyfriend had leiderhosen from his mission to Germany, the whole outfit. She said that he liked to dress up and had adult footie pajamas, and something else. All of a sudden I just said, "Wow, you're going to have a great sex life." Now, with my group of friends, that's not uncommon, and frankly,,,encouraged. But I sometimes forget that I'm not with my normal friends anymore. I usually censor myself, but sometimes it slips out. I can't help it. It's who I am. Well, needless to say, people were shocked. But mostly they just thought it was funny. Good job some CVG wasn't around or I'd be in trouble for the rest of the trip with them, I'm sure. But I think something good came out of that. I feel like I can be myself around these people, which is sometimes hard for me in new groups. There are some pretty cool people on this trip. I'm definitely closer with some than others, but we have a good time. This can only lead to one thing: more sex jokes.
Bethann showed us some stores today. Every street in Florence, honestly, looks the same to me. It's all huge buildings with grafitti, windy, with almost no distinguishing landmarks. How do people do it? I think I'll need a map or a guide the whole time we're here.
We did laundry today. Italians apparently don't believe in dryers, and we found out that it takes almost a full 24 hours to dry clothes outside on the terrace. I have never been so grateful for a dryer in my life. I can't wait until I have one again! There are only two washers in the 8 or so apts here, so people always want to do laundry. But it's so busy and takes so freaking long (and the washer is really fickle), that they just leave. And we end up doing there laundry sometimes. It's kind of annoying, but we get to use their internet if we go over there. I guess it's a give and take relationship.
We went grocery shopping today. The grocery stores here are about 10% as big as American stores, with less options, and you can only go in one door and out the other, with one stand at the end to check out. It's inconvenient if you forgot something at the beginning of the store. Everything is in Italian, naturally, so I guessed on about half the things I needed to buy. My roommates and I share food, and cook together. Tonight Lisa made stir fry and it was delicious. She's a really good cook. I really appreciate home made meals after a week of every meal eating out. I'm still underwhelmed by the food here.
We definitely have the biggest apartment here. I like it, but hate being far away. Things might switch around in a awhile, so I may move closer if I get the chance.
Today I felt really homesick for some reason. Why is it always worse at night time? I tried to call Matt on Rebecca's phone, but he left it in his car and I had to leave messages. He gave me a letter to read every week I'm here. I had already opened mine for this week yesterday, but really needed another one. So now I only have three letters left. But the letter he wrote was about feeling like wanting to give up, and moving forward with strength. It was exactly what I needed. Tonight we went to the Ponte Vecchio to watch the sunset. A performer was there playing acoustic music. He was so great so I bought his CD for 10 euro. The song playing as I opened my letter was about his girl being his angel, which is like the Angel song Matt likes. After taking a long shower, I felt so much better about the world. Thank you Rebecca for letting me use your phone.
Classes start tomorrow. We'll see how it goes!