Postcards from Prato

Ashley Arminio

Sketching the Dome 

School is starting to pick up with the arrival of midterms in less than two weeks and fall break following. I can’t believe how fast this semester is going by!

Students sketch the Dome in Florence for class (Photo by Ashley Arminio/Charger Bulletin photo)
Students sketch the Dome in Florence for class (Photo by Ashley Arminio/Charger Bulletin photo)

When we’re not in class, we’re usually eating, but also exploring Prato and the surrounding cities. However, we also study and do homework so the stigma that “study abroad kids don’t do work” isn’t accurate! If you manage your time and activities, you’re going to be fine.

In the past two weeks, we’ve had conversation exchange with the Prato high school students. This is a great experience because the students of Prato speak some English, and we speak some Italian, so we’re able to help one another in a more informal learning environment.

The difference between learning a language abroad versus at home is that you’re constantly using what you’ve learned so it’s easier to drill into your brain and more exciting because you want to be able to talk to the locals.

The first week of conversation exchange consisted of the Prato students showing us around Prato and the places they hang out, eat and shop. They also told us the history of some of Prato’s oldest historic buildings. It’s very intriguing to hear about all of the history and culture in this town and the pride that everyone has for it.

This past week, during conversation exchange, we split up into groups so that it was easier to converse. I love that the Prato students are so enthusiastic about this program and want to help the best that they can; and even outside the program it’s nice to have new friends to say hi to and talk to on social media! Here in Prato, you’re always learning, and always making new friends.

In the art and renaissance Italy course, we have been learning about Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence, Italy and how it was built! It’s so interesting because the Dome is very close to Prato and holds so much history and so many stories; and it is the first and largest Dome to ever be made! This week the class took a field trip to Florence to sketch and write about the Dome and climb to the top of it!

After 463 stairs and the narrowest staircase I’ve ever been into, we made it to the top of the Dome! The view is breathtaking both inside the cathedral and on top of it as you can see all of Florence.

I’m eager for the next two weeks to fly by because I’m going to London, Paris and Amsterdam for fall break! The best part about this trip is that we’ve all become so comfortable in the Italian culture and now we have the opportunity to not only visit some of the places on our bucket lists, but dive into their culture! I love being able to test myself and step out of my comfort zone; it’s what this experience is all about.

Observations this week:
1. You have to lick your stamps to put them on your post card
2. Water comes in glass bottles to pass around the table
3. Italians love platform shoes; platform sneakers and heels galore!
4. Italians love Converse; you can see models wearing converse in their poster ads as well. This is interesting because I think of Converse as a laid back sneaker, where the Italians wear them whenever and wherever, even if it’s going out for a night downtown.