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Journal 5

November 23, 2006

We have been thrust into a new world.  After finally stabilizing ourselves
in Swiss rigidity, we are required to loosen up; stretch ourselves into
flexible beings, willing to be patient, assertive, and at times, rude.

Welcome to Florence.  In this world, you mustn't wait for those exiting
the train before you board; the train may leave without you.  In this
world, you must be able to deny the persistent, dirty hands of the
gypsies, relentlessly asking for "change, change, money, money".  In this
world, you must set aside you "customer-is-always-right" mindset because
here in this world, you are always at fault, and nobody cares if you
take your business elsewhere.

Here we are exploring a country so rich in history, and it is not
forgotten.  Ancient building are not plowed and replaced by metal
skyscrapers.  Countryside is not paved and dotted with white and yellow
lines.  Art is not the billboards that line the highways.  Here, you can
strand on a street corner and experience three different buildings from
three different centuries.  Here, rolling hills are covered in miles of
vineyards, and old hill towns are left to be just that: hill towns.
Here, sculptures line the streets, and cathedrals adorned in radiant art
never seem to close their doors.

In a single day one can admire the 17 foot David, stand on a bridge over
400 years old, and climb up to Brunelleschi's dome to admire the city.

The treasures of this country, this culture, are never ending, and never
cease to amaze me.  We may not be traveling through poverty stricken
villages, or attempting to understand a government that is completely
foreign and opposite to our own, but we are connecting to another
country, another culture.  It is in the little differences that we've
come to be more critical of our own culture, whether that be to
appreciate it more or hope for a change.

Italy is a gem, and a new world indeed, one that I am proud to call home
for these six weeks.

- Sarah Jones