Settling into Firenze

ponte vecchioIt’s hard to believe that two weeks have passed since I moved into Palazzo Capponi in Florence, or Firenze, to begin my master’s program. I’m officially in the full swing of school, as this week is my first week of classes. I’ve adjusted very well to life in Italy. The food is delicious, the people are friendly, and the sights are breathtaking. When I got off the airplane at Florence Peritola Airport—Aeroporto di Firenze—my ten-month Italian test began.

So far, my experiences speaking Italian to locals have been successful. I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in my ability to have basic conversations, order in restaurants, and ask for directions (which I’m finding I don’t need to do quite as much anymore because I’ve learned this city very quickly). I can’t believe I’ve come this far already—just a couple of weeks ago it wasn’t this easy.

When I got off the plane, I met a few students who are in the program with me and we decided to split cabs to our new home. The girl I rode with did not know any Italian, so it was up to me to step up to the plate. I gave the cab driver the address of the palazzo and it took about five minutes before he actually understood my pronunciation of Via de Michelozzi. I was definitely discouraged, but I knew everything would be all right; it would just take more practice.

Since then, I’ve had to repeat myself less frequently and I form sentences much more quickly than when I first arrived. I owe it all to Rosetta Stone. Although I’ve just started my master’s program, which requires a lot of reading in English, I force myself to find time to practice a little bit of my new language with Rosetta Stone TOTALe each day. And, I have the advantage of being immersed in the culture and forced to use Italian. The only problem I face is that many Italians are learning English and want to practice, so I’ve gotten in the habit of suggesting that I speak in Italian and the other person practice English.

Today, I had a wonderful experience with Italian. I met up with an American friend who has been living in Firenze for over a year and is completely fluent in the language. He took me to lunch, or pranzo, at a restaurant his friend owns. I had a small conversation with the restaurant owner—in Italian, of course. Then, he asked me in English where I learned Italian, saying my accent sounded like that of a native and that I used proper Italian grammar. That was the biggest compliment I’ve received and my confidence is through the roof, propelling me to continue using TOTALe.

I can’t wait to write again and update you as my proficiency in Italian improves.

Grazie e ciao.

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Aimee Bateas

Aimee Elizabeth Bateas has always had a knack for and love of languages. A native Californian, she moved to Connecticut at age seven and began studying French in third grade. She picked up the language quickly and continued taking courses in it until reaching the highest level offered during her junior year of high school. During Aimee’s senior year of high school, she wanted to continue learning a language and decided that Spanish would be practical. She was a quick study, and during spring break spent a week in Spain on a mini exchange program with a Madrid high school. Aimee relished spending time with Spanish students, one of whom she still keeps in contact with. She continued studying Spanish throughout college, and now takes every opportunity to speak it. Aimee graduated in May 2010 from James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with a bachelor of arts in communication studies, a concentration in public relations, and a minor in political science. In August, she’ll head to Italy to work on her master of arts in European Union policy. Aimee will study in Florence for ten months, and has begun learning Italian with Rosetta Stone to enhance her experience while living in Italy. She hopes to become conversational in Italian with the help of Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion method, and through her in-country immersion experience.
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