Saturday, January 22, 2005

School and Towers and All That Stuff

Well hello again! It is now weekend two here in Florence, and it has been a great one! First, though, let us speak of school...
I started school this past monday (no Martin Luther King day here, folks) and so far I like my classes! I dropped one of them because it was at a bad time and didn’t really interest me enough to make me want to do the work, so since I didn’t HAVE to take it, it has been kindly removed from my schedule, and the even better news is that it has not been replaced. When making the decision whether to be a good student and take 18 credits (four classes), or take only 14 credits (3 classes), I consulted three sources. First, an academic counselor, who said yes, please take some time to enjoy yourself in Florence as long as you have enough credits from previous semesters to make your total at the end of this year 64 credits to complete your Associate of Arts degree... check! Then I e-mail Josh, that one guy, and I asked him what he thought. He, as you might have guessed, was all for my taking only three classes and getting out and seeing things! So the last, and most important consultation to be made, was that of my parents. I e-mailed them (they are currently cruising around the Caribbean) and my mother responded that she felt that it would be GREAT if I only took three classes, provided things were in order with NYU, and that she doesn’t want me to spend the entire with my nose stuck in a book- what a great thing, to have adventurous parents! So... three classes for me!
Friday I took a day trip to Pisa- yep, the home of the Leaning Tower! The train station is at the other end of the city from where the tower is located so Staci and I trekked through the entire tourist trap main street of Pisa to get to il Torre Pendente... as we approached and it peaked its head over the line of other buildings Staci and I found ourselves smiling and giggling. It is the first “landmark” site that we have seen since arriving here (our free entrance to the museums here in Florence comes this week, if you’re thinking we’re crazy...) and we were overjoyed. We have both heard that Pisa is nothing special except for the tower- we were So glad that we went! It was so cool to see this ancient(ish) building that we have seen in pictures all of our lives! Hooray for Pisa!
Today we went (Staci, Andrea, and I) to Bologna. Bologna was a great place- the historic center was quite a ways away from the train station, but it was a nice brisk little walk (very cold there today, a bit of snow on the ground even!). Once we reached the Piazza Maggiore we were overjoyed- it was so gorgeous! The Piazza is surrounded by the San Petronio Cathedral (AMAZING), a Castle from the middle ages, and some adorable other old buildings! The San P was amazing, truly- they say that Cathedrals were built to inspire awe but the pictures in history class DON’T do them justice. I can truly say walking in this Cathedral that was originally supposed to rival St. Peter’s (until its funding was moved to another project) took my breath away. The streets of Bologna were lined with Arches and the smaller streets were absolutely precious. The outskirts of the city were much more “modern”- McDonald’s, shops, etc etc... fun, but the Centro Storico was the place to be!
Well that’s all for now! Sunday is going to be a homework/sleep/clean day! A good one to you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Well I am finally in with the times... I got an online photoalbum! Take a peak at and see what you think! Should be a real good time! I'll add the pictures as I take then! WEEEE!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Well hello world!~

Just wanted you to know that I'm here! I will be updating this journal as my adventures ensue, and hopefully you can enjoy the fun right along with me! I'd love to hear from you through e-mail if you haven't already been e-mailing me, or AIM me (Thilfan), or write me at
Claire Cain
Villa Natalia
Via Bolognese, 106
50139 Florence, Italy (80 cent stamps for a normal size letter!) or call me at 011-39-338-107-2025 (free for me, not sure about you, so check!) or text me at that number, or post comments on this site! So you've got so many options, you better not flake on me!
Anyway, on with the show!
I arrived safely in Florence, Italy on WEdnesday, January 12. I live in an apartment with 10 other girls. Scary, right? Well so far it isn’t bad at all.
The first time I walked into the apartment building on Via Cavour, just down the street from Piazza San Marco, around the corner from the Academia where The Davide is located, and about 2 minutes walking distance from Firenze’s Duomo, I was terrified. If the pealing paint, dirt covered floors, and broken elevator (though surprising enough to have one, it was broken to be sure) were any indication, this semester was going to be even less luxurious than I had anticipated,
The three girls I arrived with and I trudged up the four flights of stairs to the 3rd floor (our US 1st floor is the European ground floor, tricky, eh?), lugging our lead-filled suitcases and ignoring the exhaustion from 2 days worth of travel, we were all silent (except for the moans of straining effort, of course). When we reached floor three (or four, for you US readers) Daina, a girl from Minnesota, grabbed her keyes and just as she was inserting her key into the lock of the door a pretty asian face name Jacquelyn popped out. “Hi!” She sang gleefully. Immediately we were at ease. There were lights, normal people inside... this place couldn’t be so bad!
As we entered and found our individual rooms (a true hunt donsidering there are 4 doubles and a triple in this monster apartment) we were all screetching for joy. “This place is AMAZING!” Everyone was oeverjoyed, in pure disbelief! Could we be in the right place? Was NYU playing some cruel joke on some of the last people to arrive at the registration... or was this the dreamy apartment we’d be living in for the next four months.
Well folks, it was no joke. Our hand-painted doors, down-comforted bed,s and plaid-curtained windows are what we’re paying for. Our 5 bathrooms (one for every room!) equipped with shower, bidet, towel warmer, sink, and medicine cabinet are there for our exculsive use! Our fully stocked kitchen, including pots, pans, glasses, microwave (for those of you who have never lived away from home... you have NO idea what a big deal this is!), and two tables are to be used to their fullest by the eleven residents of Via Cavour. And our common area with couches and TV, veranda with view of a small italian neighborhood of sorts, washer and dryer (which practically don’t exist in Italy.... hello clothes hangers!) are here soley for our enjoyment. WOW! Not to mention the wireless internet that will be installed soon... ideally sooner rather than later, but who can complain?
The rooms are, as you may have gathered, very nice! They are comfortable, and the bathrooms are great. The first little quirk we ran into was no water. Rather, no cold water EVER, and no water in more than one faucet or shower head at any simultaneous given time. This posed quite a problem... when all anyone wanted to do was shower after two days of travel it became quite interesting to not only have to shower with zero water pressure, but to be so desperately needing that nearly non-existant icey trickle that you could cry. Or did. It also became quite aparent that the water supply was short... as in if anyone turned on the sink or tried to shower at the same time the water would shut of completely and indefinitely. Ouch!
Thankfully we discovered, after a visit from Lucca the maintenance guy, that our water had been virtually shut off and that we had been going for two days on what, as he put it, must have been simply resting in the pipes. All I can say is EW and then try not to think about that! YUCK!
So other than that little shower issue, which has since been resolved (resolution resulting in warm high pressure shower conditions for all, even if more than one person is de-dirtifying!), and the slow going internet installation, things are wonderful here. I am a bit homesick, especially when I find myself slowing down, looking around, and realizing how truly far away from eveyrthing I know I am... but I’ve got good friends, a calling card, and an internet cafe down the street! (and now I have to admit that I am posting this from the cosiness of my own room... so the icafe is obsolete...)