Italian reality

Finding Florence. Students search for cultural enlightenment

Kelly Laffey
October 30, 2008

As a senior in high school, I secured a spot on a trip to Italy that the Latin Club was hosting during spring break. The ‘Italian experience' that I gained by traveling with 30 students, over half of whom were infected with the ‘senioritis virus,' and a very strict and uncompromising army of chaperons left me thirsting for more. I loved exploring the historical sites and tourist attractions but felt sure that there was more to Italian culture than what I was seeing.


Entering Wake Forest University a few months later, I began to study the Italian language, anticipating my junior year, when I would be able to fully immerse myself in Italy. Idyllic images of Renaissance buildings and the Arno River amidst the backdrop of rolling Tuscan hills constantly filled my mind. Now that I am here, although I have come to terms with an Italian reality that includes taking out the trash and food shopping almost every other day, I have not been able to reconcile myself with the fact that many of my daily interactions are with fellow Americans at establishments that cater to temporary residents and visitors to the city.


There is a definite gulf between the Florentines and the foreign students here. The presence of a major Italian university in Florence and the plethora of cars that throng the streets assure me that there is a significant local population-but where are the ‘locals'?


This gap, stemming from a combination of stereotypes, indifference, and fear, needs to be bridged. I decided to spend the remainder of the semester doing just that: experiencing Florentine activities and showing the Florentines that foreign students do desire to experience another culture.



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