Let’s Get Lost

On top of the Duomo!

My first week in Firenze has been an unimaginable experience to say the least. There are beautiful landscapes unlike any other, artwork at every corner, and authentic Tuscan food. For the first three days I explored the city and tried my best to find my way around. A big challenge I faced is not knowing where I was going and getting lost all the time. The street names in Florence change every block so it was hard to navigate around. I was beginning to feel very frustrated because of the cultural differences such as not knowing the proper way to order food at a restaurant, not knowing how to buy the fruit at the grocery store, and not knowing how to get to class. As I was walking from class I stumbled upon this open door and from the outside I could see a beautiful garden. I decided to go in and there was a David statute at the center of the garden and a renaissance style fountain. There was also these crests that represented prominent and well known families in Florence. I was mesmerized by the intricate columns and the sculptures. In Florence there is always something to do and something to see. This has easily made me fall in love with this city.
Towards the end of the week I was able to find my way to class and through the city (except the Oltrarno side which is the south side of the river Arno… I’ll get to that next week). I found out that when you go to a restaurant in Italy you wait for the waiters to sit you down and when you are ready to leave you have to ask them for the check or else they will never bother you. Also, when you go to the grocery store each fruit has a number and there’s a scale right next to the fruit. You grab the fruit with gloves and put them in your bag to weigh it. You punch in the number that identifies different fruits and put the sticker onto the bag. Everything that I have learned here has been by trial and error. It is normal to feel frustrated at first since it’s such a different culture. However, this first week I discovered the beauty in being lost.

The adventure of a lifetime begins!

Ciao, my name is Vanesa Carreno and I am a junior at the University of South Florida. I am majoring in Public Health and I am on the pre-med track. In the future, I hope to go to medical school to become a pediatric oncologist.

This summer I am a part of the USF Science in Florence program! I will be taking biochemistry at the Florence University of the Arts and I have the amazing opportunity to do physician shadowing at major teaching hospitals around Florence. I never really saw myself studying abroad because of the financial aspect and I didn’t think that there was a program that would count towards my pre-med requisites… little did I know.  One day someone from the study abroad office came into my class to talk to us about the USF Science in Florence program and I was amazed at how many options there are available for education abroad opportunities. If you are considering studying abroad, I promise you that there is a program out there that is the right fit for you. You just have to do a little research.

Another misconception I had of studying abroad was that it is too expensive and I also let that hold me back from exploring the different study abroad programs that USF has to offer. There are so many scholarships out there that are available to students that will help fund your study abroad program. I am very lucky to be the recipient of the Global Citizen’s Project Study Abroad Scholarship and the Greenbaum/ Genshaft Passport Scholarship. These scholarships allowed me to pay for my tuition at the Florence University of the Arts and made my dream to study abroad come true.

Now that I am a couple hours away from hopping on a plane and traveling across the world, I am looking forward to so many things and I hope to learn as much from the culture as I can. Professionally, I am excited to observe the Italian healthcare system and how it differs to what I am used to and I know that being exposed to another culture is going to make me a globally aware future physician. Personally, this is the first time that I am ever going to be on my own. This can be nerve-wracking but the support given to me by my family, the people that are in my program, and the faculty members made me feel more at ease. To think that I will be living in the center of the Italian Renaissance for six weeks is going to be the adventure of a lifetime!