Montag, 23. April 2018

March −The First full month

I know it's already the end of April but...succede(it happens)!

After my first full month in Florence it is time for another update. Someone new moved in at the beginning of the month. Also, a rare thing happened. It snowed so much that the cupola was actually covered in snow. Well, at least for a day.

Life was slowly getting more normal. I still did touristy things and visited even more museums before university started for me. First, I visited the church of Orsanmichele. Once a grain storage, it now is a small, beautifully painted building with a museum on the top floor (just opened on Mondays and Saturdays) close to the Palazzo Vecchio (or della Signoria). Across the small street is also the entrance to the house of Dante with a frescoe of the author and poet above the entrance door. On my way back home the Palazzo Medici Riccardi caught my eye. So off I went to another museum!

I got another chance to pay just a booking fee for a museum with my student card. I spontaneously decided to visit the Galleria dell Accademia and see the famous David from Michelangelo −the original one− myself. To be honest, I don’t get it. I mean sure, the David was incredible. But…it is just an overcrowded mini-version of the Uffizi. And with that I mean that it took me just 60 to 90 minutes to see everything and buy souvenirs. It’s just The David with the slave statues and some church art, one room with marble figures and two rooms with renaissance music-instruments. When I left it was still early enough to walk slowly to Santa Maria Novella and take a look at what changed there (I got like 4 hours until the church closed).

And Santa Maria Novella pleased me far more than the Accademia. One chapel reopened after my last visit in 2013, the police school (or whatever it was) was relocated and you didn’t have to leave your bags at the entrance anymore in order to see all the frescoes in that part of the complex. Add three more rooms with a temporary exhibit on the restauration of some of the frescoes and some clothes of the bishops to the list. Additionally, the informational material got a makeover. The brochure you get with your ticket has now a nice and correct plan of the complex on it, there are plates with information everywhere and you can even take a plate with you and read description to every fresco in English and Italian. Overall, it was well worth the 7.50 I paid and I will definitely visit again when the restauration of the rooms with the museum shop is done.

Same goes for Santa Croce which I visited next. So much changed there in the last 5 years that it felt like a museum/church I never visited before!
The church itself is still the first thing you get to see when you visit. There are some restauration works in progress (first of all the restauration of the tomb of Michelangelo and the family chapel/shrine) but they don’t affect the feeling that you are inside of a big mausoleo with more “ordinary” graves covering the floor and big and beautiful designed monuments for Galileo Galilei, Niccolo Machiavelli, Dante Alighieri and others along the church walls.
From there you walk to the Pazzi Chapel −also recently restored− and a walkway of graves before you enter the cloister with its finally finished exhibition about the flood of 1966.

My first university course was Archeologia Romana, and I have to say that tis course was like hell. I knew the topic but I could not understand much as the professor spoke so fast. In the afternoon, I had the first lesson of “Storia degli insediamenti medievali”. It was a nice course, not too difficult to understand and the professor was really friendly and helpful. My first lesson of Archeologia Preistorica was really different from what the course is now. We got a short introduction and were told that it will be a practical course. As I never really worked with stone tools before, this course would be very difficult for me (at least at that point).
My life outside of university got much shorter now but I was totally ok with that. That fact made me appreciate my time and the little things more. I even went out to get some pictures of the city during sunset/Blue hour and climbed the steps to Piazzale Michelangelo

Continuing doing new stuff, I went to Fiesole with my language school and visited the Palazzo Vecchio with my new roommate AND climbed the Torre di Arnolfo with her (this was new although I managed to take a picture of the same floor tile during each of my 3 visits and already visited Fiesole).

It took another week to get from rain to sunshine, but this time it was for more than one day. I took the opportunity to visit Pisa with my language school during a really sunny day (I really feared to get my first sunburn) and get out of the city a bit. Although it was my first visit to the city, it was really easy to navigate. We got some info on the city itself and its history while walking slowly to Piazza dei Miracoli. We stopped at a small church directly at the Arno bevor crossing the river and making our way to the most touristy place in town. It is the same river, but I like the view from Florence more. It is a bit less modern and more medieval (at least for me). The Piazza itself was interesting. Sure, the main sight was the leaning Tower (which is not that impressive after the first look), but depending on where you stand you can see that it is not only the tower that is leaning­–also the Baptistery and the Duomo look a bit odd.
After the guided visit with the language school, I decided to stay and buy a ticket for the Duomo, Baptistery and the Campo Santo (Graveyard). All three were much less crowded than I expected from the crowds outside.
The most interesting part was definitely the Baptistery with the opportunity to visit the gallery by climbing a staircase between the walls to see the mosaics of the floor. Also, the Campo Santo was stunning with all the different graves, characters and frescoes.

The next day was all things tradition for me. Not only was it Palm Sunday, but also Capodanno Fiorentino; the Florentine new year. Not really knowing what to expect I packed my camera and went to a gelateria in the via dei Servi with my roommate while waiting for the parade to arrive at the Chiesa di Santissima Annunziata. We were a bit late for that so we already heard the drums while exiting with a cone in the hand. It was absolutely stunning! Men and women in historical costumes, trumpets, drums, guards with crossbows and something similar to muskets– all you can wish for. We even entered the church after the parade and observed everything that happened (although we did not understand everything). This day way definitely the most memorable so far and I am still stunned when I look at the pictures I took(some below, click on my Instagram to see more of them).

This month, we also received the bill for January to the beginning of march for electricity. I never knew you could have an electricity bill of over 880 Euros just for 2 months! After that, I really got to know my roommates. Not only had I learned the hard way that living with 6 strangers from all over the world is not easy, but also to speak up no matter what the others think of you because I probably won’t see 5 of them again after I move out. The first to complain were the ones who are obviously responsible for the high bill. Not understanding that the air conditioning in the kitchen does not need to be at 31 degrees from 8 am to midnight, they complained that the others used too much light and heating. They were lucky that I was asleep when the beginning of this conversation happened. I don’t even care what they do and let them live their lives, but when it comes to actually paying more for electricity although I did not even use the air conditioning when it was snowing and well under zero degrees outside I can’t just let it be. Especially if it is obvious why that happened (and it happened before in December). So I did all I could and created a separate group to at least do our part and make a plan for using the boiler in one of the bathrooms. I don’t think the others even talked about the boiler in the other bathroom and it is still on 24/7.

Donnerstag, 1. März 2018

A semester abroad or: The strange feeling of not knowing what to feel

Week one

Yesterday evening at a concert in Cologne, now officially living in Florence, Italy since 8.45. Life takes strange ways and I have the feeling that time flies faster than ever.

With just 1,5 hours of sleep I started this adventure this morning. During the trip to the airport I was just tired, but after my luggage was dropped off and I continued my way to the gate alone, a strange feeling increased. Would everything go as planned? Would I be really able to live in a country I just have visited as a tourist before?
As boarding approached, it was some kind of nervousness; the kind of feeling you have before entering a stage and standing in front of a huge crowd for the first time.

I survived the flight in a horrible airplane, but while entering the bus to the baggage-belts the feeling got much worse. Sure, I was excited to finally visit my favourite city again and being on my own; but moving abroad, even for just six months, is a whole new level.

The first thing after getting my luggage was finding a taxi that ist big enough to get me, my hockey bag, a carryon-bag and another small bag to the city center. Fortunately a really friendly taxidriver saw that I was following the signs to the taxi-parking-lot and told his colleague at the end of the line that he had a customer. With my (because of the lack of sleep) just-a-bit-better-than-what-you-learn-during-a-normal-trip-to-Italy-Italian; I managed to at least make it through two short conversations before arriving at my destination.
I arrived together with my host, who made it a warm welcome (including the taxidriver wanting to get my luggage to the door instead of just out of the car) and took the lighter luggage inside.

I got to meet one of my roommates and took the offer to walk to the nearest supermarket after she was really awake. We talked a bit about god-knows-what and I managed to buy some essential without getting that much lost. Back home I continued unpacking my bags, and after some hours at the computer nearly falling asleep, I couldn't resist but wandering the city. I bought a simcard, walked across Piazza del duomo and tried to remember where everything was before leaving for the next part.

And my feet brought me back to the Duomo, where I got a gelato before walking on. This time I walked over the Ponte Vecchio for the first time. It was incredible. I had no place to find and no appointment and just let my feet decide where to go. I passed the magnificent Palazzo Pitti and followed the road along the Boboli Gardens to their very end. This was a journey of around 4 km, and on my way back I even discovered more. There was a small ceramics store I did not see when I went up. I decided to just look at the beautiful (and expensive) masterpieces. The only thing I had to keep in mind was that I did not know when the supermarket would close.

The next day was nearly the same. I decided to do some bureaucracy and got my codice fiscale. After that I needed to buy traintickets for my first ever hockeypractice in Italy. Oh what a nightmare! A really nice guy told me how to queue for a ticket but the lady did not understand what I wanted and switched to english. Thank god my only appointment for that day was the practice in Empoli! And I have to say that went quite good except the fact that changing from ball to puck, trying to understand new exercises and the speed of the others was a bit too much to begin with. My legs hurted, my feet hurted, my back hurted -everything hurted. But the people were really nice and at least I got to learn some new words. And I got the opportunity to finally see Piazza del Duomo totally empty, the light rain making it even more picturesque; something I never saw before and which won't happen again anytime soon except at nights (at least until the nights get warmer and more tourists appear).

But this rain should get heavier the next day, making my planned trip to San Gimignano a really wet and short one.
I needed to get some gifts from a special store, and why not combine that with a gelato from the world champion of ice cream and his gelateria Dondoli just 20 meters away? I even got recognized when I talked to the woman in the store "Weren't you here with your mother two years ago?"
Not wanting to buy a museum ticket just to use the toilet, I looked for one of the public ones. I did not have it in good memory from my first visit in 2013, but this time, I was flashed (when you enter the city, it was on the right handed side)! No angry lady waiting for you to pay, proper flushing, clean toilets... and that inside a nice medieval building (looked like a cellar or something like that). I wandered the city a bit and found a viewing point with an incredible view over the country (though the view from the Torre Grossa is more impressive) before collecting my things at the store and retourning to the busstop.

The weather like a rollercoaster, my first weekend started sunny and with 15 degrees. Time to visit the Boboligardens instead of going to the museum! I spent several hours there and exploring the Palazzo Pitti. I loved the Gardens and the fact that the crowds spread a bit after entering. You had a nice view over the city and the architecture was really nice. was far too confusing for me. Maps of the whole garden were just located at the entrances, the rest was spotted with signs on the major paths, and these were also very rare and just indicated the direction. The information that the Limonaia (lemon house) is closed and just to keep the plants warm in winter would have been great.

The Palazzo Pitti was totally different. Ok, it won't become my favourite museum as it is too modern for me (though the interior and the treasure chamber were awesome!) with the Galleria degli costume being just a collection of mostly really ugly dresses, shoes and bags (You rarely see me wearing something else than a T-Shirt, Jeans and running shoes). The only intersting room was the one with original Medici clothing on display. I skipped the modern Art Gallery and wandered through the medieval art collection. It reminded me of the Galleria degli Uffizi, but did not flash me. But again, the interior was nice! (and I have to say that I paid no entrance fee -thanks to studying Archeology).

Thinking sunday would be as sunny as saturday, I was a bit shocked when opening the window in the morning. It started to snow! Just tiny flakes not covering the floor, but it was cold enough to freeze when staying outside. I decided to visit the museo archeologico but ended up at the museo degli innocenti. During my last visits, it was closed due to renovation and the only thing I knew was the facade (from Assassins Creed...). It combines modern methods with the medieval to early modern things at display and is divided into a history, architecture and art part, the architecture consiting of two courtyards connecting the other two parts. I really enjoyed how they try to give every child that had been living there a face and a story through displaying the little gifts and messages their parents left with them. But what really caught me was the realisation that the "Orphanage" was opened during the last century. There was a monitor with short videos of people telling their story with the ospedale degli innocenti. Some were living there, some adopted a child and some discovered that their parents lived there. One lady even got lucky enough to become a "famous designer" and travel the world! Then the courtyards were the next part of this museumexpierence. In my opinion, it was not that good. The lack of information inside the courtyards -although you learned somehting about them in the history part- and the museum plan being a bit confusing for this part made it somehting nice to see, but nothing more (ok, Assassins Creed again, but that's not important).
Inside the art "Gallery" you got to see some church-related masterpieces, two of the "putti" from Della Robbia and a reconstruction of what wet-nurses might have worn there.

My first week came to an end with more bureaucracy and my second practice. On monday I got to meet two archeologists/professors of mine. One is responsible for Erasmus and even offered me to speak German! She was really friendly and helpful to get an overview. After that I continued my tour to the Museo preistoria, where I had to ask for my professor. After the guy understood who I wanted to see, he took me to the first floor and told a group of archeologists who I wanted to see. One of them guided me to the office and said the professor was already waiting for me. It was an incredible feeling to know that I was already "famous" in the institute before arriving. It was a bit scary but also showed that they care for their students. After an informative conversation with the offer of an excavation in northern Italy and the opportunity to work with finds after lessons, I was even offered to visit the museum before it opens. It was a really informative day and I am really looking forward to the beginning of the courses next week!

Tuesday led me to the sportello straniero. One hour with the bus just to get there and then I searched for 45 minutes until I found the building and someone able to tell me where to go. But I was overprepared for them. They just needed a copy of a translation of my Bachelor and a form I have to fill in with the courses I want to attend. And I have to go back there with everything after I find someone selling me a special stamp for 16 Euros to hand my papers in. I spent the rest of the day snuggled up under my blanket until it was time to get ready for practice. Unfortunately, I twisted my ankle on the way to the station while making space for tourists not caring for people crossing their path. But hey, I had to try practicing, the train tickets were already paid.
I managed to find my way to the rink but was lost just 200 meters away. Fortunately for me, two hockey players crossed my way which I asked if I could follow them.

This practice was a whole new experience. Paolo -head of the team- asked the coach if I should be red or green and gave me a jersey to practice with. Practice means joining the juniors (16-19) for the last hour of practice and just play a bit. A cold start without warmup isn't the best but much better than trying to understand exercises, keeping up with the speed of the others and trying to handle the puck all at once. I even managed to give an assist and got extra "applause" for that by the team I played against and the manager. The manager even drove me home instead of just giving me a ride to the station to catch my train. We had a really nice chat about everything from hockey to friends we have in common and I really look forward to my next practice. The seniors are a really nice bunch of people that I can get along with. It felt a bit like my guys home, but at the moment, nothing can beat them!

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Diana Jansen (@hockeytwin2) am