Forget about tourist attractions, it is the small things that matter.
Name: Kim Le
Major: Art and Design
Hometown: Hochimin, Vietnam
Destination: Florence, Italy
Institution: TU in Italy: Lorenzo de’Medici, Florence campus
So, a thing about living in a famous city with countless visitors all around the year is sometimes I forgot Florence is a tourist destination. I would wake up everyday, rushing to class, waiting impatiently for the tourists who are snapping pictures of the Duomo to please, please move away and stop blocking the sidewalk (and do you really need to take that many pictures, seriously?! A side note: yes, they do, and so did I, at the beginning at least).
The point is, I stopped treating Florence like a vacation place the moment I greeted her at the airport, knowing she is my lover for the next three months. Rather than jumping around the hottest attraction, I spent my time finding out the good cafés and grocery stores, the food markets and places to hang out–everything that would help me fit right in with the lovely city I am having the incredible luck to explore. Sure I went to the museums and historical places, but it is more like ‘let’s see what’s around the neighborhood’ than ‘I need to see that museum and this market and did you even know this restaurant ranks 5 stars on TripAdvisor?!’
Just a note, this gelateria on my way to class is an absolutely must for anyone who visit Florence.
As I spend so much time walking around the city, people watching is my favorite game all these months. To this day, it still amuses me seeing Italians wearing thick coats and scarves even when it is around 60 -70 F outside. Florence is hot, much hotter than Towson, and I for one sure cannot wear these coats and keep a straight face walking around! Apparently, clothes are the best way to tell between locals and tourists, as my Italian professor told us that no Italian would ever consider wearing shorts. Shorts = tourists. Tried and true! Another small thing I appreciate are the dogs! People here take their dogs on a walk all the time, so I took on a new habit: cooing (internally) over all the cute dogs walking around the city!