Monday, January 23, 2012


Well, I'm here all in one piece!

This is the first of (hopefully) many posts detailing how my life in Siena, Italy is going.

This entry is a bit boring because really all I did today was sit on methods of transportation. The good news is that my almost 8 hour flight from Philly to Frankfurt was pretty smooth sailing. I sat next to a nice woman who travels a lot for business and she was giving me tips about what to do and how to fly more comfortably.

I ended up running into lots of people from my program in Frankfurt, because we were all on the same flight and got stuck when the aircraft that was supposed to take us to Florence had a mechanical problem. Well, I'd rather they take an hour to fix it than fly dangerously.

The views from this flight were particularly stunning, as we flew over the Alps in daylight:

After landing, I had to make a series of bus trips. First to the train station in Florence which is near the bus station, then from Florence to Siena, which took about an hour and half. Because of a taxi strike, IES staff members were supposed to meet us at the station, but the few kids I was with had gotten there just as she was bringing another group to the center. So that was a lot of confusion, but we finally figured it out.

At this point I am going to segue into how AWESOME 4 wheel suitcases are, and how happy I am that I could fit everything into one giant suitcase and my backpack, because I can't imagine having to lug any more than I had down cobblestone roads and stairs (don't worry Mom, I had people help me).

I was then taken to my homestay, where my host mother, Paola, already had food ready for me. Like, a LOT of food. I tried to eat some, but my wisdom teeth wounds are still bugging me and I wasn't feeling very well after the arduous travel day. Thankfully, Paola has internet in her apartment so I could email home and tell them I was OK and relax/unpack instead of going to sleep.

Paola is really wonderful. She keeps telling me that if I need anything, I just have to ask, and that her house is my house. Unfortunately, she doesn't speak a word of English, and my Italian is basic classroom vocabulary. We've been doing alright, but I'm jetlagged and so sometimes the words come slowly. But the apartment is really nice, and inside the city center, that's a plus!

This is my room about a minute after I got here
and Paola told me to come get food

I have a balcony/terrace thing!

I'm at the inevitable point on the first day where the thought keeps crossing my mind "What the hell am I doing?" I'm overwhelmed by being in a country and a home that doesn't speak my main language, which I new was going to happen, but it sucks all the same. At least last year the culture shock was appeased a bit by my American roommates. Not here, it's just me and Paola. Being utterly at a loss as to where you are is a bit daunting as well. Paola is going to show me how to get to the center tomorrow. She's been trying to explain while she's driving me there, but this is a bit difficult to concentrate on when you're in Italian traffico. CRAZY.

The first few days are gonna be rough, but Paola and the IES staff are really willing to help me out with anything I need, so I'm comforted by these facts. I can't wait to start learning my way around and relax. I also can't wait to be able to chew like a normal person, but hey, when wisdom teeth need to come one, they need to come out.

Fun fact: People think it's cold in Siena right now. It was about 40 something today. After that brief winter blast at home, I'll take it!

I'll try to update as often as worthwhile things happen! Ciao for now!

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