I finally have internet!!!!!!!! So I'm going to get caught up on blog posts...I wrote this one a few days ago:

Dear Home,

It’s awesome here. I already have so much to write about. The plane ride was pretty painless. Compared to everyone else I had a pretty smooth ride: no delays, only one two-hour layover, and both of my bags got here safely. Beth, my roomie (!), got here at 1:15 am last night because one of her flights was cancelled and she spent about 9 hours in Frankfurt, or Munich, I forget which. Another guy I met today had his flight cancelled in Paris, I think – moral of the story, I got here pretty easily.
I love flying, especially at night. I only ended up getting 2 hours of solid sleep on the plane (solid for the plane anyway), but I got to watch the sun rise from about 35,000 feet in the air, which was pretty cool. I love looking at the lights below when it’s dark. Seeing all of those cities from so high is really peaceful for some reason.
Seeing Frankfurt from the sky was especially surreal since it was covered with snow. It looked exactly the way people from America perceive Eastern European countries – a little barren, snowy, with old castle-looking buildings scattered throughout the countryside. It was pretty, but in an intimidating and somber way
My favorite moment was probably seeing the Alps on my way from Frankfurt to Florence – it was pretty breathtaking.
I made friends, not surprisingly, on each flight I was on. On the 8-hour flight from Dulles to Frankfurt I sat next to a woman named Harriet who was probably in her 60s. She was interesting, but a little obnoxious. She told me she had stepped foot on foreign soil in about 20 different places during her lifetime, a fact I quickly discerned that she was pretty proud of. She told me about her tour through Russia, all the crazy flights she’s been on, her daughter and her escapades in Ecuador, her trip to Rhodes, Greece with her sister, and more. She was a good travel partner for a first-timer like me though, I followed her pretty closely throughout the Frankfurt airport; we tried on perfume together (Opium smells much better on you, Mom). We then met a doctor who was on his way to Vienna to give a talk on a rare disease found in children. These kids, there are only about 40 of them throughout the world, are diagnosed when they’re about 2 or 3, then their skin starts thinning, they get wrinkles, and usually die in their teens of diseases that only the elderly contract. Apparently by studying these kids we can learn more about aging in general, which is what he was giving his talk on. Oh, the people you meet while traveling, huh?
Getting to Florence was pretty anti-climactic. The airport isn’t beautiful at all, and the outside of it looks like any American city. I ended up waiting to get a cab while the organized us for about 2 hours, but then I was finally put in one – I sat in the front seat so I could talk to the driver. His name was Emmanuele, and he was pretty awesome. I practiced my Italian with him a little bit and he said he was pretty impressed. The highlight of the trip was probably when I noticed another taxi driver on the road kept giving us weird looks and I finally asked him, “Chi é?” (Who is he?) Emmanuele enthusiastically said, “É il mio cugino!” (He is my cousin!) Apparently everyone in Italy really is related.
We finally got to my apartment, a tall wooden door in a small alley, but unfortunately, no one was there waiting for me like they told me. Emmanuele and I had another wonderful Italian conversation filled with shrugging and hand gestures, so even though I was a little worried, I was pretty happy. He called someone who told him that if I just waited there for a bit I’d be fine (Relax Mom, I’m okay). So I waited for about 10 minutes inside the apartment building – just one large room with a staircase at the end of it. Finally I got in my apartment and explored a little. It’s HUGE, and really pretty (in my opinion). We can see the Duomo from our balcony, and it has lots of endearing quirks that might stop being endearing once this Honeymoon period wears off.
My roommates are really sweet. It’s me and Beth, then three other girls from Penn State: Mica, Kristen, and Alli, who are all from the same sorority in Penn State. They’re really fun, and Beth and I are already getting pretty close. Our beds are about 5 inches away from each other in a huge room so I guess that’s kind of inevitable.
So today, Orientation was probably the longest thing ever; we were there from 9 am to 3:45 pm with only one hour-long break. On the upside, we were at this beautiful Villa on the top of a hill where there was a really great view, so I know there’s probably no reason to feel sorry for me. We made friends with a solid group of guy friends already, and have (maybe) found a good pizza place we can frequent that’s close to our apartment.
Tonight, Beth, Mica, and I went to eat there and as we were sitting down a guy walked in and randomly started selling the men who worked there a dozen roses. We listened to them haggling, and Beth goes, “Yeah, they’re going to give us roses.” Sure enough, the man started gesturing towards us, we started laughing, and we ended up with a single rose each – what a good introduction to Italy. I think we’ll be going back there again.
Long story short, I’m really happy here. There are things, of course, that I’ll have to adjust to. The shower is pretty horrible, but at least we have hot water. We have to be a lot more conscious about how much energy we’re using, the drinking culture is a lot different – I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s no such thing as “pre-gaming” in Italy. Things I think I can adjust to would be: wine with dinner, roses with dinner, being about a minute walk from a beautiful cathedral, listening to the bells every hour, delicious pizza, the sound of Italian everywhere, tiny little streets filled with shops…I could go on. I’m really looking forward to getting to know this city.

I miss you all.

I'll post pictures at soon as possible.

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