So, it’s been about a week since I left the US to embark on my study abroad adventure and let me tell you it’s been quite the journey. Naturally, I left my packing until the day before/ day of which in hindsight was a horrible idea. I left O’Hare airport with only a suitcase full of clothes (which ended up weighing 68 pounds) and a carry-on backpack filled to the brim with whatever last minute things I needed.
Arriving in Torino
After an 8.5 hour flight, I landed in my first destination which was Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt airport wasn’t too bad to navigate, and I had plenty of time to try and find my gate. Once I got to my gate I met a few people from my program, which was such a relief since no one from my first flight was going to Torino. In order to board the plane, we had to take a bus to the terminal and then get on from there. The plane was kind of small, but it was only about an hour and a half flight to Torino so it didn’t really matter at that point.
The flight to Torino was BEAUTIFUL. We flew right above the Swiss Alps and let me tell you, it was incredible. I was staring out the window practically the entire time, and I was so distracted by the views that I completely forgot the fact that I was incredibly sleep deprived (I only slept for maybe three hours total between both flights).
We got off the plane and I was so surprised with how relaxed their security was (we didn’t even have to go through customs). The airport was pretty small, and all we had to do was walk past a couple police officers who had dogs. Since I chose to do the group flight, we all got picked up by the program directors and we took a bus from the airport to the hotel. Once I got on that bus the exhaustion hit me like a stack of bricks.
The hotel we stayed at is called Hotel Roma and it is in the center of downtown Torino. Once we were able to settle in we all went to go get some pizza. At this point, I was starving and was so ready to eat anything and everything. The pizza we had was AMAZING and I ended up inhaling most of it. After this, we took a quick night tour around the city center and I was blown away by how pretty everything was. During the winter they have all sorts of lights that are strung all down the streets and they are all different designs. They ended up becoming super helpful this entire time when trying to figure out where we were going.
Getting Settled In
The next day was move-in day, and the day we finally found out where we are going to be living. My apartment is near the school, which is nice because it’s in walking distance. The apartment is a little bigger than I was expecting, and we have TWO balconies! I live with two other girls who are both from California. The washer in our apartment is much smaller than the ones in the US and they don’t have dryers so we will have to hang our clothes outside to dry.
After we finished unpacking I met up with a few people who I met the first day and we did some exploring. The language barrier between the natives and myself has already become a challenge. It is very rare to find anyone who knows even the slightest of English, and because I just assumed everyone knew English, I didn’t really try to teach myself any Italian before (definitely the worst decision I have made thus far). We went to a cafe to try and get some coffee and it took us maybe 15 minutes to try and figure out how to order a simple espresso. Thankfully, elementary Italian is a required course and I have already learned a lot in the first week of class.
First Weekend in Torino
This past weekend has been filled with a TON of walking (no wonder the Italians are all thin). They have a ton of public transportation, but the first couple days none of us had a phone plan or any idea on how it worked that we ended up just walking around until something seemed slightly familiar. My one friend and I are horrible with directions and got lost more times than none, but I honestly didn’t mind it because it’s freakin’ ITALY. It was kind of interesting not having a working phone for a couple days. For me, it gave me the opportunity to take everything in and unplug from life in the US. It was however horrible in the aspect of trying to find places to eat or our way back home.
Exploring the city has been amazing so far. Torino is the 4th largest city in Italy, so there is plenty to see and do. We were able to go on a downtown bus tour throughout the city and we stopped at a couple places along the way. My favorite part of the tour was going up to the Superga on top of the hills in Torino. This is the highest point which overlooks the entire city. The views were incredible and you could even see the Alps! Pictures don’t do it any justice.
The people I’ve met on this program are great. Everyone is super nice, outgoing and down to do anything and everything. The majority of them are from California or the East Coast, and I’m like one of the only people from the Midwest. It’s funny because some of them thought that Chicago was close to New York City and I’ve never had to explain where Chicago is on the map. Though they may not know where I’m from, I know we will become great friends these next four months.
Overall, I am having a great time already and I am so excited to start traveling outside of Torino. These past few weeks have been quite an adjustment, and I have learned so much about myself already. I haven’t been here for long, but I can already say that studying abroad in Torino is one of the best decisions I have made yet. Ciao!
Haley Kalejs is a University of Iowa student. You can read more about her adventures in Torino on her blog, Where in the World is Haley.