Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Yesterday, Monday, was my first Florence specific orientation.  I cannot put into words how excited I am!  We talked a little about Italian culture, the staff we will be working with, our academic schedule, and the official documents we will need to obtain.

Here is what I learned about Italian culture:

  • Sales are exclusively in January and July.  Basically, I'll need to start shopping immediately!
  • Dinner is held starting around 7pm and usually don't end until around 11pm if you're at a sit down restaurant. 
  • Not getting a receipt is against the law, and we have to ask for them often.  Lots of shops don't report their sales to their equivalent of the IRS, but if they have a receipt it is a record, so they have to report their sales.
  • People don't smile at you, and they often stare.
  • There is no tipping in Italy.
I was a little surprised with some of the information I learned.  If you know me, you know I smile a lot.  I was raised to be polite, smile at everyone, and never stare.  The Italian culture is going completely against what I was taught.  This is probably going to be a shock for me once I get on the ground.  I want people to be friendly as I am, but that's not going to happen.

The official dates of my trip are January 8 - April 12, 2013.  I have to leave the United States on January 7th and arrive in Florence on January 8th.  I am so nervous to get on a plane by myself flying to a foreign country.  I am hoping to find some friends to travel with!

Anyone have some recommendations for flights?  I have never flown out of the US, so any advice is welcome, even if you haven't been to Italy!


Sunday was my first pre-departure orientation meeting.  Oh. My. Gosh.  This makes it oh so real and oh so close!  Not only did I meet a few people who will be in Italy with me (is this real life?), but I also got to see everyone who will be studying abroad around the world for the spring semester.  JMU has study abroad locations in Florence, London, Salamanca, and Antwerp.

At this meeting we discussed everything from culture shock to cell phones to alcohol to heath insurance.  Obviously, it was quite a bit in a short amount of time.  Since then I have been reading over my packet and have found some interesting tidbits of information:
  • If I lose a thumb and an index finger on the same hand, it is covered up to 25%.
  • Never appear drunk in public. (Not that I really anticipate that being a problem.)
  • Avoid volatile situations, such as political unrest and riots.
Obviously, super helpful information...

I am so excited to get to researching Italy and learning some important Italian words.

Has anyone been to Italy before?  What do I need to check out?  What do I need to avoid?  Any helpful words you can teach me?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cento e cinque

In 105 days, on January 7th, I will be embarking upon an amazing journey.  In just over three months, I will be boarding a plane to travel for this once in a lifetime experience.  I will be studying abroad in Florence, Italy!

I have prayed about this adventure, and I believe traveling is God’s plan for me right now.  I couldn’t be more excited.

My study abroad experience is going to be held in Florence, Italy, for the spring semester of 2013. While in Florence, I will be staying with a host family that JMU has worked with for years and experiencing all that is Italy!

I will be taking a full course load of at least 15 credit hours.  I am required to take Italian while I am in Italy, and I plan on taking an art history course, an English literature course, an elective of some sort, and an IdLS class.  IdLS stands for Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies, and is my major at JMU.  I will be interacting with Florentine middle school students taking English classes for this IdLS course.  How cool is that? 

I am so blessed to be afforded this opportunity.  It is quite expensive, $5400 on top of my regular tuition, room and board, and all the fees associated with attending JMU.

That being said, I am holding a fundraiser.  It is a Thirty-One Party put together by the lovely Audrey Range (best consultant ever).  Feel free to check out the Facebook event.  If you feel led to contribute to my fund, you will be receiving emails in the form of blog posts, like this one, at least every other week while I am in Italy.  Hopefully I will get the chance to post way more often, but I am making the promise of once biweekly.  Please get in touch with me if you would like to help me out!

Here is the 31 party information!