Daniel Studies in Florence (Sociology & Communication major)

Daniel Studies in Florence (Sociology & Communication major)


My name is Danny Simandl. I am a Sociology and Communications double major with an Italian minor, and I studied in Florence, Great Minds of the Renaissance. Just walking to class, you get a really good feeling for how life is in Italy, especially Florence. Our center that we studied at was across the city from where our apartment was, so we took a new path every single time, trying to figure out what’s different, what’s the same about all these areas. So it was really cool, and it definitely supplied a good background to how life is over there. We had class from like 8 until 2 everyday. In the classroom, we would focus on the literary stuff, the books we read. Then we would go out after class and go see it. So that was really interesting to get to take on roles of certain people, and so I was Pope Julius, and we would walk to certain spots where that person was significant in Florence, and then they would have to give their speech, and their declamation. There are only so many people in the classes. We had 24 so we got to know each other well. So it was a lot easier to get involved with it and have a lot more fun with it. I think a lot of people learned a lot more because of that. We lived on Via Nazionale. It was like a Hotel Nazionale. We were in an apartment above the hotel. We were on the top floor, and there were six of us. It was all the guys in the group. We shared two to a bedroom and we just had another kitchen and then a little living room. La Plaza Michelangelo in Florence is unbelievable. We all went together and climbed up, got gelato on the way to these steep steps up, ran up them, and you get to the top and they have live music, and there’s a big staircase that everybody just sits on. There’s a balcony that you can look over, and you get the whole Florence skyline. The Duomo is amazing by itself because it’s the first dome of it’s kind. And we read books on it, so it was really cool just to see the literature in action. In Italy they eat a ton. They have three courses and dessert, and then coffee and such. It’s like a two-hour event. At the University, for me at least, I’m here, I eat, I’m out. I got to go do something else. In Italy it’s very elongated. You have a lot of time to just relax, and that’s when you get to conversate with everybody. The language barrier is just hard to get around. The formality of it like who you’re supposed to speak to and what you’re supposed to say – that’s a lot different. There was a situation when we were out watching a soccer game, and for some reason I felt a little more lively that night, and I went and sat down with a group of old men. I thought I was speaking poorly and uneducated, but they were really nice about it, and they were really grateful that I branched out and tried speaking with them. They’re really welcoming, and warm towards the idea of Americans trying to branch out and learn their culture.

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