Ok, so after I got that last blog off my chest, I feel a lot better. And I've actually been able to pay closer attention to class material since then. Who'da thunk it? :)
This morning was an adventure. I had class at nine, and I thought I had the location down. I google-mapped the address of the museum last night, and figured out that it was somewhat between my homestay and school. So, not bothering to note the actual address, I set off this morning... and ended up one street off from where I was supposed to be.
Well, I panicked a bit... this program has a strict attendance policy... and went to the library, which thankfully happened to be close, and looked up the address again. I found it... I don't think the professor was happy, but... I was just glad I'd found the place, and explained to the ticket lady in Italian that my class was there and I was late. They didn't make me pay either. SCORE!
Then came adventure #2 of the morning. There's a little store in the shopping mall underneath Stazione Santa Maria Novella (that's the train station, for all of you non-Florentines)called Gili Jeans. They sell everything from jeans to sweaters to lingerie. And they happen to have bellydance costumes.
I have a friend back in the States who has been bellydancing for years, and she just started teaching. I took a few of her classes before I left, and I plan on continuing when I return. I've never really been a fan of my body, or of dancing, but I figured taking her classes would be the perfect way to change that. So even though I've only learned a few basic moves and have only had three sessions, I refer to myself as a bellydancer. So I figured, why not purchase one of those costumes? I've never seen them for sale in the States, and they're probably expensive to order. So, I went and withdrew some precious cash after returning from class, and went down to Gili Jeans. Truth be told, I was a little bit nervous. Some people get the wrong idea about bellydancing, thinking it's synonymous with stripping and such. It's not. Anyway, I didn't want anyone in the store to think that I was an exotic dancer or something, and try to stalk me. But that was a silly fear, and I pushed it aside.
Well, I walked into Gili Jeans, and picked up a sweater to try on so I wouldn't be going into the dressing room with just the costume. Then I noticed that they'd gotten a new one since I'd been there last... white with gold coins and fake amber gems... absolutely GORGEOUS. So I grabbed that, along with the gray "sensible" sweater I wasn't planning on buying, and went into the dressing room.
Well, the top fit amazingly. It wasn't too revealing either, which is good because I'm still iffy on showing too much skin. So I decided to buy it.
I walked out and returned the sweater to the rack, then went to the counter to buy the costume. The woman who works there was over by some other rack, and she looked at me from where she was and said something in Italian.
"Mi dispiace, non parlo bene Italiano," (I don't speak good Italian) I answered. A man who had come into the store while I was in the dressing room happened to be behind me, and evidently decided to strike up a conversation with the foreign girl with a coin bra in her hand.
"Parli Franchese?" He said. (Do you speak French?)
"Parlo Inglese," I replied. (I speak English)
"Oh. Ok. You try that on? It fits?"
"You sure? You want to try it on again?"
Thankfully then, the girl working the store got to the register and charged me "venti cinque" (25) euros. I left then, laughing to myself at the absurdity of the whole experience.
Being here has taught me that little awkward experiences like that are more amusing than scary. I've lived my life in the past as sort of a wallflower, a girl who plays it safe, and I think that's changing rapidly. I've noticed that I'm not afraid to make eye contact with people anymore, and I don't stand with my arms folded in front of me as much. I don't give off the "I'm shy, stay away from me" vibe anymore, I don't think. I feel very happy and whole and independent, and I wouldn't trade this feeling for anything. Though I'm not as into the class material as I could be, I think being on this program has helped me as a person in ways beyond measure.
And that, my friends, was my goal all along.