When coming to Europe, it is truly impossible to not come back with stories for your family and friends back home. With the culture being so different (Click here for article about culture differences) you are bound to push your boundaries and try new things. For some this is a little nerve-racking while for others this is a complete thrill. The following are top five things to do “for the story”, and obviously the spontaneously good time you will most likely have.
1) Go into an Original Palace. Back in the day Florence was known to be one of the wealthiest places in Europe. A couple families were very well known, the biggest one being the Medici Family. There are a couple original Medici palaces in Florence, your goal is to befriend someone who can bring you to one. Yes, I realize this is difficult but if you are open to meeting everyone you never know whom you will meet. It is not impossible!
2) A Day with Someone Culturally Different. When travelling you will be surprised at how many new people you will meet in the span of one day. Here’s your task, spend a day with someone who does not speak your language and lives somewhere completely different to you. Although the language barrier might be challenging you will learn a lot! Being culturally awareand diverse is important in today’s world, so you might as well start while you are travelling!
3) Be a Yes Man. Has anyone ever thought about what it would be like to be Jim Carry for a day? His goofy personality makes him seem like he is having so much fun. For those of you who know the movie “Yes Man” starring Jim Carry now is your chance! Be a yes man for the day. Here’s the rule: you are not allowed to say no… to anything (clearly with safety in mind). Be open and see where the day takes you.
4) Try a Food from a Different Culture. Apart of experiencing a new place is immersing yourself into their culture. You want to look, talk and eat like them…at least try for a day! If you go to the San Lorzeno Food Market you will find many Florentine specials. For example, pig earsand cow stomach are something people enjoy here. Although something may disgust you, be adventurous and try something unusual.
5) Take A Spontaneous Day Trip. It is this simple, go to the train station and get tickets for the very next possible train you can catch. Wherever the destination may be, plan your day trip on the train and wonder the new city completely blind. This could be really fun and you may find a place you have never even heard of to be quite spectacular.
Firenze, Firenze, Firenze! This beautiful, romantic city is the only place I wanted to be this summer. A spontaneous trip from Canada to Italy has begun my summer with great people and great food (to say the least!). I am a student traveling with Global Experiences, a program that organizes Italian classes as well as internships. The Italian classes were challenging but rewarding once I was able to converse with others in the bar and shoo away unwanted strangers (girls, be cautious as men don’t know the meaning of no). After three weeks of classes I feel fortunate to be an intern at When In Florence, an advanced student services company. The friendly staff is able to help all tourists with almost anything that is needed during their stay. Since being in Florence I have explored almost all routes and side streets that are lined with restaurants and shops. A piece of advice for all travellers- don’t stick to the main roads, the most unique places are hidden!
For all the girls out there, if we share a common interest in shopping the San Lorenzo Markets is where you should get your new handbag, wallet, coin purse and other leather goods. Since there are hundreds of stands around the city, there are a few things you must look out for, the Firenze sign engraving and the delicious smell of fresh leather. Additionally, the Santa Croce area and side street around the Duomo have affordable shops for students. If you are looking for something a little more pricey shopping near Piazza Della Republica is your best bet. Happy shopping travellers! On another note, there is never a dull moment in Florence. Not feeling a club or bar? Don’t feel like staying in? As I am one of the most indecisive girls on the planet I always face the problem of what I should do. When in doubt, grab a bottle of wine from any store (or even stands on the road) and head to one of the several bridges crossing the Arno River. I can guarantee you a beautiful sunset, a great crowd and many talented musicians.
Last but definitely not least, travellers you must keep traveling! There are several stunning locations around Florence perfect for day trips as well as weekend trips. A few close cities are Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Venice and Rome. Some places worth going for a weekend include: the Amalfi Coast, Croatia, Greece, Naples, and Sicily. There are several companies that will take students on these trips for very affordable prices, including When In Florence. I highly suggest taking some of these trips as you will not waste time getting lost in a foreign city and will be able to see everything you need in a short period of time. While enjoying every minute, take every opportunity that gets thrown your way and be open to the different culture and new people you stumble across. With this in mind we will share a similar experience, simply the best trip of your life!