A lot has happened since I last blogged. We found out just how much we loved Amsterdam. We both agreed it was our favorite city. Compared to Paris and London, there weren’t quite as many historical sites to make the hike to, which was nice. We had time to stroll around the city and see what we wanted to see without feeling stressed out or feeling like we had to rush to the next thing (or pay a lot of money for admission). Plus we could walk everywhere and not worry about public transportation and getting lost (this was a huge plus).
We did make it to the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house, which were both well worth the admission.
Above everything, though, I think what made it our favorite was our hostel. We stayed in the Flying Pig Downtown and it was the best decision we could’ve made. The staff was so friendly and accommodating. There was a bar in the hostel, which made it super easy to meet other people. We made friends from Argentina, Canada, South Africa, and some from the U.S. too! It was our most social hostel and had a great location – plus it was clean and had all the necessities. There were great drink deals, which we weren’t used to (drinks everywhere else were so expensive). We also noticed the best hostels have staff that come and hang out when they aren’t working. All the staff seemed like best friends and like they really loved their job and each other. That kind of attitude really makes a difference (it was 10x better than some of the other hostels we stayed in). It was more expensive than some of our other hostels, but I can’t stress how big of a difference it made – it was very worth the extra money. This atmosphere combined with the overall feeling of the entire city was just amazing – so relaxed, so fun, just so happy. Everyone was helpful, happy, and positive.
Our next stop was Milan – and I don’t think we could’ve had a harder time with it. Our post-Amsterdam depression rubbed off on us and it was rainy the whole 24 hours we were in Milan – plus we paid $7 a night and (surprise) got a horrible hostel – so Milan was not the best experience. I would like to give it another chance some time, if I get the opportunity. We just weren’t there long enough to get to know the city or any people. We booked the earliest morning train we could to Florence.
Florence was amazing and beautiful, just like everyone had always told me. We met more Americans and drank wine, walking and laughing in the streets of Firenze – it made for a pretty unforgettable night and city.
Now we are in Rome and I am officially moved into my apartment, with four other roommates. I’ll be living here for the next four weeks and taking two courses about Roman art and culture at the U of A Campus in Rome. It is a huge change to go from a completely spontaneous, freedom-filled, hostel trip through Europe to a study abroad trip where there are suddenly mandatory meetings and classes. I’m not quite used to it yet. Especially not used to actually unpacking and living in one place for more than three days. But I’m so excited to get to be in one city for longer and get to know our neighborhood, the people, and the city more intimately. It will be different but in a good way – it will be very comforting to not be thrown into a new culture and situation every few days. It will be comforting to actually have a home for a bit.
I do miss home. I miss my family, my friends, my boyfriend. I miss my soda of choice. I miss my typical food and snacks. I miss watching TV. But I love Europe. I love having so many new experiences every day and meeting people so different with stories from all over the world. I love trying to adapt to the Italian culture and trying to figure things out in Italian. There’s a rush during the day but when it comes to dinner, it is slow-paced and relaxed. I love being able to drink wine in the streets and make friends. I just love it. and I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it. I wouldn’t change anything about this trip for the world. It has been hard at times, exhausting and frustrating. But this is what I’ve started to tell myself: “Non mi interessa che oggi sia nuvoloso ma che il domani sia sereno.” I do not care that today is cloudy but that tomorrow is clear.
Until next time! Ciao!