Postcards from Prato

Samantha Higgins

This has been one crazy week here in Prato. So much has happened I feel like we are finally getting into what it is really like to live here.

Postcards from Prato

At the beginning of the week, we were able to play soccer; some played and others just cheered on their friends and roommates. Afterwards everyone goes to dinner together at one of the restaurants that are a part of the meal plan. It was such a great night because it gives us another opportunity to get together as a group. We were all laughing and cheering on each other regardless, and people who don’t have classes together or live in the same buildings have an opportunity to meet and start getting to know other students they don’t typically see. It’s a weekly event here that I have a feeling is going to continue to be very popular.

Another thing the staff here does for us is arrange Family Dinners. It’s an opportunity for students who are interested to sign up to go to a Host Family’s house for dinner one night. You eat an authentic home-cooked Italian meal, play some games and help them sharpen their English skills, while they help you work on your Italian. The host families all signed up through the school to do this for the students and are extremely happy to take the students into their home for a few hours to show them the culture. It is an amazing opportunity that is offered here and is just another thing that shows how extremely nice everyone is here.

For those students who don’t want to go to Family Dinners on Thursdays, or who don’t sign up in time, Piero, the Italian language professor, offers a night where he teaches students how to play Italian card games. These games are extremely different from American card games and the students were really excited about learning these games. Once everyone gets more comfortable, there will also be tournaments and prizes to see who the champion at these Italian games is.

This past Friday we went on a trip to Siena and San Gimignano. Both of these beautiful cities are only about an hour away from Prato by bus. We got a tour of all the sites, took more than enough pictures and were able to have free time to eat, shop, and explore the cities on our own, which for some students included climbing to the top of the bell tower or Cathedral for a site of Siena you couldn’t get anywhere else.

We were lucky enough to go on a day where the rain held out till we left, so there was a beautiful blue sky throughout the day. We learned about the Palio Races in Siena, saw the beautiful Cathedral, and learned all about the different neighborhoods and the process that goes into the races. We climbed a lot of stairs and hills in San Gimignano to get an absolutely breathtaking view of the city.

Overall this week was, by far, an amazing week, and next week has so many other events happening that I am already looking forward to. I miss the U.S. sometimes- I am jealous of the snow that is there, but when I walk outside and see how beautiful it is here, I just know that this is so much better than anything that could have happened in the U.S this semester. I just can’t believe how fast time is flying; I have only been here three weeks, and I don’t leave for another three months, but I already don’t want to leave.