Saturday, September 2, 2006

First few days in Italy

Ciao! Well, I am finally here in Italy! It still doesn't seem real that I'm actually here now, after talking about it for so long. I flew out on August 28th, and arrived at the Florence airport 24 hours later (less seven hours time difference) at 6:00 pm on August 29th. Gary Williams, the director, and the rest of the AI workers--Matt and Lauren Freel, David Hopper, Kelly Fann, and Greg Seiders--were there to meet me. Anna Madox is also an AI worker, but she was out of town. That night, I went out for pizza with the rest of the workers at one of their favorite places. We stopped for gelato on the way back. If you have never had Italian gelatto (ice cream), you don't know what you're missing!

Wednesday morning, I learned how to do "pubblicita`" (I can't get the accent right on an English keyboard, and I can't find the thing to switch it at the moment...). Most Wednesdays, the group takes a different part of town and stuffs mailboxes (this is legal here) with flyers for the school, offering English/Bible lessons.

Thursday, Lauren took me to the Questura (police headquarters) in Florence to register for my permisso di sigiorno (permission for sojourn). All foreigners who plan to live in Italy long-term must register. We had to wait in quite a long line, but there were no problems and I was able to turn in my paperwork. That night, our directors, Gary and Jennifer Williams, took me out to dinner to get to know me. Mario, a long-time church member here who is currently staying at the school, and Brandon Marshall, a former AI worker who spent several years in the south of Italy who is visiting from the states, ended up going along, too, as we ran into them as we were leaving and they had already decided to go to the same restaurant. More pizza--good thing I like it! After dinner, Mario took us to his favorite gelateria (ice cream place), run by a childhood friend of his brother. They had cinnamon gelatto, which was very good. They tend to have a wide variety of flavors here--from the expected chocolate, strawberry, mint, and such, to melon, fig, blackberry, rice, nutella, lemon, and more. I have heard of such things as fish or ham-and-cheese.

Today, David took me back into town to sign up for language school. I will start Monday. I am looking forward to getting started. The language school is just a block away from the duomo, the famous cathedral in Florence. It's amazing to think of walking past that beautiful marble building every day. The people at the school seemed very nice, and I took a placement test to see what class I should be put in.

I am finally beginning to get over the jet-lag from the time difference. I was so sleepy the first couple of days. I am beginning to learn my way around--I know how to get to the bancomat (atm) and to the bus stop, and I know what buses to take to get into Florence. I am looking forward to meeting with the church on Sunday. I am beginning to settle in. The Bible School is in a quiet neighborhood, across the street from a park, in the suburb of Scandicci. Across the park is a hospital and an old castle, the Torre Galli (tower of the Galli family).

Well, I hope that you are all doing well. Feel free to e-mail me or leave comments on this site. I will let you know how language school goes next week...

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