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

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