Some Thoughts on Leadership

Beautiful Cercedilla. I can’t wait to go outside again!

One of the blessings I’ve noticed lately is that I have been speaking a lot more with people I hadn’t heard from in a long time. Including my sisters and brothers. Since we can’t be together physically, we’ve all been stepping up our communication game.

Since I’ve been working with Epikus, I’ve been learning a lot about leadership development. Some things I already knew, some things are completely new. Speaking with my sister last night, we were talking about how businesses are handling their human resources right now. If you’re ‘non-essential’, are you not worth investing in?

Sis sent me two articles. The first is this one, from Forbes, which gives some information about changes CostCo implemented as the Covid-19 virus began spreading in the United States. The second is from The Intercept, and tells the horror story of Whole Foods at the same time. Taking the courage to bite the bullet and ensure the well-being of your employees is what distinguishes excellent leaders. In a time of crisis, do you invest in your people, or pull back out of fear? What about when we’re on the other side? What do you do when you find yourself needing to hire again and your Glassdoor reviews are negative, good luck finding the best talent. Now is a time for reflection and growth. And investment in people will only make leaders better in the long run.

I’ve been tempted to apply for a job with Amazon. But I don’t like their values. I’ve worked for companies that I won’t name that paid a ton of money, but treated me like a machine. I know I’m not the first one to say this, but isn’t it interesting that now people who don’t make minimum wage are our ‘heroes’? I hope business leaders in the U.S. are receiving the messages. We know the government isn’t!

While I’m not in the U.S. and I’m not sure how things are on the ground, what my friends have told me is that looting has begun and people aren’t taking things seriously. I am happy to report from Spain that people here are being very respectful, at least where I am in Cercedilla. While grocery trips are full of nerves, I notice strangers saying hello, and neighbors yelling out windows just to check in.

This was kind of a boring post. I saw this this morning and it made me laugh, so enjoy. Too bad I don’t have a dog!

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Reporting from Spain (again- I’ll probably keep doing it)

Just missing the ocean…

Today the snow is melting and it’s rainy out. Beef stew is on the stove. It’s freezing cold, which is bonkers considering I was tanning just two months ago in January. It’s the end of the month so I imagine a lot of people are experiencing intense anxiety. Payroll, bills, and how long can we make it?

I wanted to share some entertainment. The first is a video that makes me laugh out loud. The second one makes me cry with tears of hope and joy. This can also be considered a language lesson.

I’m learning how to produce subtitles on YouTube. What a great way to spend a quarantine! But apparently technology is not cooperating with me, maybe due to an overload of users. So instead of timely subtitles, you’ll have a transcription.

1. This is the one that makes me laugh out loud!

This guy is awesome.

I’m spending time on social media and I’ve heard messages that are very surprising like that of Cristiano Ronaldo saying ‘stay at home’. Or Vin Diesel, also saying ‘stay at home’. Our President Nito Cortizo, and various Ministers have told us to stay at home. OF COURSE! You live in a mansion!! Stay in my house!! It’s been 3 days and I’m about to go insane!!! It seems like the north pole because all I have left is ice!! Stay in MY HOUSE! Your house is like a country. It has tennis courts and golf courses. STAY AT HOME.

So yeah, at least I have more to eat than just ice. This next video is the one that gets me teary. I hope it resonates with you as well. Thanks to my friend Dianne in Florence for sharing it with me.

This guy is also awesome.

Just to be clear, I am NOT taking credit for these beautiful words. I just wanted to share them with a larger audience. I will look for a way to link back to the author.

“I’ve been reflecting a lot the past few days, trying to give some meaning because there must be meaning to this crazy situation we’re experiencing. I imagined that the virus could speak. I imagined what it would say in a letter if it could write one. These are the words I was able to put down on paper.

Hi. I’m Covid19. Many of you will know me as Coronavirus. Yep, it’s me. Sorry for not being able to tell you when, where or how I’ll introduce myself to you. Why am I here?

Let’s just say I was tired. I was tired of seeing you ruining yourselves. I was tired of you treat the planet. I was tired of how you treat each other. I was tired of your violence. Of the wars. Of your interpersonal conflicts and your prejudices.

I was tired of your social jealousy. Your hypocrisy and your egotism. I was tired of how little time you spend on yourselves, and your families. I was tired of how much you ignore your children. I was tired of your superficiality. I was tired of the importance you give to superfluous things, at the cost of the things that are essential.

I was tired of your continued search for the most beautiful dress, the newest phone, or the best car just to appear successful. I was tired of your lies. I was tired of your misinformation. I was tired of the little time you spend communicating with each other. I was tired of your continued complaining when you do nothing to improve your situation.

I was tired of watching you fight for futile motives. I was tired of the risks cause by governments making bad decisions. I was tired of seeing people insult each other over a soccer game.

I know. I’ll be tough on you. Maybe too tough. But I’m not after anyone in particular. I’m a virus. My existence will cost you lives. But I want you to understand something. You have to change for your own good.

The message I want to give you is simple. I wanted to illuminate the societal limits that you are living with. Because you can eliminate them. I wanted to stop everything on purpose so you can understand what is important and where to devote your energy. And it’s simple: LIFE. Your own, and those of your children. Think about what is absolutely necessary to protect it, nurture it, and share it.

I wanted you alone at home. Away from your parents, from your grandparents, your children and grandchildren. So you can understand how important a hug is. Human contact. Dialogue. A handshake. A night with friends. A walk in town. A dinner out. A run in the park.

Everything needs to restart from here. You’re all equal. Don’t differentiate yourselves. I’ve shown that distance doesn’t exist. I’ve run kilometers in little time without you even noticing. I’m here in passing.

But the feelings of closeness and collaboration that I have created among you in so little time should remain. Live your lives as simply as possible! Walk. Breathe deeply. Do good, because good will always come back to you with interest. Enjoy nature. Do what you love and create conditions that allow you to be independent.

When the party starts, I’ll already be gone. But remember, don’t be better people only when I am around.”

It’s a lot to read, and I’m sure people will have issues with my translation (not perfect), but I hope the message is sent. How can we learn from this?

God bless you and stay safe!

Reporting from Spain

Reporting from Spain

What else to do now but write, right?

I am sitting in my apartment in Cercedilla, Madrid, Spain. It’s snowing outside and the kids upstairs must know I work in this space because it seems like they stomp over me on purpose.

NPR is discussing Contagion. I haven’t seen it yet, but I will have to watch now.

Boyfriend is at work. He is a landscaper, and here in Spain, that is an essential job at the moment. The way the government has handled this situation here has been absolutely crazy. I can’t ride in the car with another person, but we can all go to the supermarket at the same time. The fried chicken joint up the street is still open. Everyone is wearing gloves and masks, and the way people look at each other is truly devastating.

Cercedilla Today

I’m currently working on two exciting projects: one CV inspired, the other just a blessing at a difficult time. The main project is Epikus. This is a company dedicated to helping people understand the psychology behind how we react to situations, and how we can master ourselves to control those reactions.

I’m really interested in the program because it resonates with me, especially given my history and all of the psychological tools I’ve been able to take advantage of due to the best available in healthcare. I think a lot of people could gain tons by spending three days in a Delta Plus leadership workshop.

The second project is through a collaboration with Matt Bleakley. We want to provide a space that is CV-19 free. The idea is to provide entertainment, practical tips, and remote working strategies. If you’re interested in participating by providing a video, definitely get in touch.

Another bright spot is I’ve been honing my cooking skills. Yesterday I made Naleśniki for the first time. They actually turned out pretty well, and it’s good to know that with just flour, eggs, and milk, you can eat amazing pancakes!

Who do you consider essential? How are you coping? Did you watch the Tiger King? Reach out and help me stay sane! I wish everyone the best.

They tasted better than they look!

They were good I swear.

This is a poem by Cameron Bellim that my Aunt Ellie posted on Facebook today that brought some tears to my eyes. Remember how lucky you are. And if you’re not, reach out. Maybe I can help.

May we who are merely inconvenienced
remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our world,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of the great spirit for all our neighbors.
Amen.

Que nosotros, que simplemente enfrentamos inconvenientes,
recordemos a aquellos cuyas vidas están en riesgo.
Que nosotros, que no enfrentamos factores de riesgo,
recordemos a los más vulnerables.
Que nosotros, que nos damos el lujo de trabajar desde nuestra casa,recordemos a aquellos que tienen que elegir entre preservar su salud y pagar la renta.
Que nosotros, que tenemos la flexibilidad de cuidar
a nuestros hijos cuando sus escuelas cierran,
recordemos a aquellos que no tienen opciones.
Que nosotros, que tenemos que cancelar nuestros viajes,
recordemos a aquellos que no tienen un lugar seguro a donde ir.
Que nosotros, que estamos perdiendo nuestro dinero marginal
en el tumulto del mercado económico,
recordemos a aquellos que no cuentan con ningún margen.
Que nosotros, que tenemos que quedarnos en casa en una cuarentena,
recordemos a quienes no tienen una casa donde ir.
Cuando el miedo hace presa de nuestro país,elijamos el amor.
En estos tiempos, cuando no podemos abrazarnos físicamente,
encontremos formas de ser el abrazo amoroso
de Dios para nuestros semejantes.
Amén.

Read this for some strength.

Writing again.

I’m finally settled in the Sierra de Guadarrama after what felt like a thousand moves and flights, and a lot of stress. It feels so nice to finally have a new *home*. I’ve finally had the chance to settle into a routine that makes me feel happy and relaxed. Despite the sometimes irritating gossip that floats around this small, sleepy town, I love waking up early for a long run through the mountains with beautiful views of the city, and the monastery of El Escorial, then coming back to my home office and learning about the ways artificial intelligence is disrupting the wealth management industry. I’m challenged, but the stress levels are low. It’s such a welcome change.

The beginning of many trails.

Since I run without music, I’ve been thinking a lot. I have time. I’m also working in tech, so I’m spending a lot of time at the computer (not that that is anything new). I wrote this yesterday, as I was reflecting on all my moving around and how the internet has helped but also hindered aspects of my life. It’s my first post on Medium. Let me know what you think.

The Longest Winter

This year I am definitely being tested. Last November I was offered a job in Artificial Intelligence in Marbella, Spain. The company flew me over, interviewed me, and I got to spend two nights in company housing with views of the beach and palm trees. I felt completely excited to break out of my Florence life and start completely fresh and new. I looked forward to meeting the people in my new company, and going for runs along the beach in the evenings. I was going to start saving and finally settle down.

I packed my bags and flew to Madrid where I would spend the holidays with close friends before preparing to move to Marbella. Upon arriving in Madrid, of course, I was faced with challenges. The holiday season in Spain is not the time to be doing bureaucratic things, and I had no idea where to begin. Through the kindness of strangers (in particular, Andres Gras, Form a Company) I was able to get my numero de identidad para extranjeros (N.I.E.) and begin to become regular in Spain.

Despite finally obtaining this magical number that I thought was all I would need to get started, I was informed by my then-future employer that they would no longer be willing to wait for me to sort my papers. Just like that, my bubble burst! I’m living in Spain (yay!) but now it’s January, I have no job, and no idea what my legal situation is.

I’m a resourceful girl, and years of survival in Italy taught me survival skills. I can wait tables, translate, babysit, hold conversations, edit, create, volunteer, write. While instability can be scary, I tried to look on the bright side: lots of time to run, to explore, and to visit with friends and family.

2018 in the Sierra in Madrid might have been the longest winter I have ever experienced, both literally and metaphorically. I was working from home, holed up inside, depressed, scared, worried that I would have to give up on my Spanish dream and head back home. I experienced waves of panic coupled with moments of hope, and can definitely conclude that I was being and continue to be tested right now in my life. How many bad breaks can a girl get?

All summer I spent time between Madrid and Florence, trying to get my paperwork in order. It just felt like doors were slamming all around me and I would be better off just going home. But if you know me at all, that is not my style. I am thankful that I have a gorgeous apartment in the center of downtown Madrid. I have a computer, and I have private (amazing!) health insurance. I have a supportive family and amazing friends. I know that something good will happen soon. I just need to keep the faith.

I am constantly reminded of the kindness of strangers and the impermanence of everything around us. Losing a dear family friend prematurely this year was also really hard, especially being so far away from home. Remember to let your loved ones know you care and appreciate them as this Thanksgiving holiday approaches! I am thankful I get to spend the holiday with the wonderful Ms. C in Florence. It will be nice to spend the evening with some familiar faces.

When have you been seriously tested? What did you do? How did things turn out?

Firenze Marathon in Barcelona

 

This is transcribed from a notebook because I still roll that way…

I’m on the train ride back from the Barcelona Marathon weekend. It was a great weekend but completely exhausting. I can’t believe I spent Saturday night in my hotel room watching the Malaga-Barcelona match but after two solid days of travel and engaging with the athletes and their families, I couldn’t imagine going out. Plus the weather was shit (although thank goodness it held up for the runners on Sunday morning!). It seems I brought the Florentine rain to Spain… but as my roommate the Franimal reminds me, we need this rain for the huerta to be fruitful in a few weeks!!

I stayed in the NH Barcelona Stadium hotel near Sants Station. The location was great for my purposes. Not central, but close to Plaça d’Espanya, with nice staff, clean rooms, and a seriously excellent breakfast buffet. I’d definitely stay again. I also really enjoyed a little bar across the street (the kind I like – full of locals, no wi-fi, good pinchos – no google maps presence). They had three tv screens to watch soccer and the people were really great. A few were volunteering to hand out water at the marathon, as well.

Friday I checked in then went straight to the expo where I joined Fulvio Agresta (apparently fluent in not just Italian and English but Castellano and Catalan as well — also a lacrosse goalie! Who knew?!) and César Corral (and his lovely daughter) to get to work. Our stand was located just at the expo exit so we received a lot of traffic. Communication was a hilarious nightmare as it tends to be in these international situations I love: a bad mix of Spanish, Italian, Catalan and English. We made it work. I’ve heard it’s really bad to mix languages — that you should decide on one to speak at a time beforehand and operate in one language at a time — is this true? Why? Anyway, I tried.

Most of the day Friday I was in the expo working the stand. I did go visit the other stands to score swag as one does. Why else go to the expo? I had a seriously mind blowing moment when I got my body mass composition checked. No need to go into detail here but three months of tapas and cold in Madrid, despite continuing workouts, has taken a toll. Que venga la primavera ya…!

Saturday I headed to the expo and was feeling antsy. Being around so many runners training and getting pumped up for the event has an effect on me. Despite my complicated (read: nonexistent) finances, I decided to splurge on a new pair of trainers since the Asics Women’s Gel Kayano 23‘s I got in November (THANK YOU Firenze Marathon) had already developed a hole!! It had been driving me crazy, and the expo is a great place to look for deals. I scanned the periphery of the expo to check out the smaller shops that tend to be getting rid of extra stock and finally found a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 13 sneakers that would fit my giant 41.5 size Anglo-Saxon feet — not an easy task here in Spain (or Italy, for that matter). [Note — so far I’ve used them three times and I’m really liking them. I think my Asics were just a little bit too small. They also gave me some ankle problems.]

And then, new shoes on, I was off. At César’s suggestion I headed up to the Castell de Montjuïc which proved a really enjoyable uphill run past lots of gardens with beautiful views of the city and the sea.

I absolutely loved running in Barcelona. As I ran, I was thinking about the whole run-travel industry and how much it makes sense. At least to me. I guess some people are happy to run the same routes continuously, or workout in a gym on a treadmill. But just like participating in a race gives you an adrenaline rush, a race in a new location doubles the effect. At the Barcelona expo there were representatives from races from all over Europe and the world. I wish I could go to all of them. I guess my priority for now needs to be focus: on getting ready for the Madrid Half in April, on myself and finding some clarity/direction, and on my work, i.e., improving my language, writing, and wordpress (nightmare) skills, and on generally enjoying my day to day life without anxiety.

Do you have questions about Barcelona? The marathon? Want to run in Florence this year?

Contact me before March 18, 2018 for a promo code for a reduced registration rate for the Firenze Marathon 2018 which will take place on November 25!!

 

Firenze Marathon 2018

I’m in Galapagar and it’s freezing and raining. Glad I got a mountain run in this morning. Here’s where I went Friday in the hills where I’m currently residing!

El Escorial

This year’s Asics Firenze Marathon is November 25, 2018, and I’m already looking forward to it!! I’m in contact with the organizational team who are all already working really hard to prepare for all this year’s exciting running events in Florence, and elsewhere.

Check out the video they made:

The events I hope to be physically present at are the Firenze Multistars athletics competition to be held April 27 – 28 at the Firenze Atletica Luigi Ridolfi Stadium, the Guarda Firenze scheduled for May 6, Corri la Vita (my first race and dear to my heart) scheduled for September 30, and of course I’ll round out the year with the marathon on November 25. This year I’ve also put together a special RUN THE RENAISSANCE travel package!!

As my role with the organization continues to grow (THANK GOD!), I have the super exciting opportunity to go to the Zurich Marató de Barcelona in about two weeks! I’ll be there together with Fulvio Agresta from the Firenze Marathon management, as well as César Corral from Running Travel. I am so thankful to have a good reason to get back to one of my favorite cities and will definitely be posting about the experience manning the booth at the Expo — the largest sports fair in Spain, and one of the most important in all of Europe for running, trail and triathlon. It is going to be a really great time.

In all my excitement, today I registered for the EDP Madrid Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon coming up on April 22! I guess this means less hashing and more serious training…although I do intend to keep up my Sunday fun runs now that I’m settled into more of a routine here in the Sierra.

What are your fitness goals for this year? Have you registered for any races yet? Drop me a comment I’d love to hear what you have planned! And if you want to go to Florence, be in touch!

Cheers,

K

Running around Florence, Part 2: My favorite routes

It’s a beautiful autumn day in Florence and I am in a great mood for many reasons, but primarily because despite my anxiety about taking a risk and accepting less pay for less hours of work at a very stable, reputable job, I got to spend my morning out in the sun, on a long, much-needed run, and then got to take my time walking back home just enjoying being outside. Maybe I’m crazy, but some things don’t have a price tag.

I wanted to share my three favorite running routes/areas of the city with all the students who apparently just got into town (I hear you all under my apartment, watch what you say in Santo Spirito). When I was a student I got into running here because the gyms are crazy expensive and lack a lot of the amenities we are used to in the US (no towels?? no water?? no thanks). And as I’ve said before, it’s one of the best ways to explore a new city. However, sometimes you want to at least have an idea of where to start out. So here are my top three.

All of the maps start and end in Santo Spirito because this is actually what I do/where I live, but they really work if you are staying anywhere in the city center. The important thing is to get out of the dense traffic and into some green.

Parco delle Cascine 

The Cascine Park is a large, green expanse located on the northeastern bank of the Arno river. Just past the American embassy, it hosts a large, open-air market every Tuesday, so it’s great to go for an early morning run, then pick up whatever you need on your way home!

Good to know:

  • There is a water fountain at the far end of the park. However, there is no guarantee that it will be on. There are also fountains in the middle of the park, at the Piazzale delle Cascine. 
  • There are pay toilets at the Piazzale delle Cascine as well, but be sure to bring euro coins as they don’t always have change. Pro tip: the University’s agrarian campus is there too, and when the doors are unlocked you can sneak in and use the facilities for free! *Shh*

Piazzale Michelangelo

This is a classic route taken by many Florentine cyclists and runners, and is great if you want to get in some hill work. Piazzale Michelangelo is basically a large parking lot that overlooks the city, so although the piazza itself isn’t so beautiful, the views of the city on the way up are spectacular, and you definitely notice a difference in the air quality the higher up you go. The Piazzale is also on the way to San Miniato al Monte, so for a detour in the afternoon you can go hear the monks sing their gregorian chants.

Good to know: 

  • There is also a pay toilet before you reach the piazzale, on the right side of the road.
  • The old Swiss embassy, now a hotel, is about 2 miles up, and is a good place to stop if you need a bathroom or some water. They are really nice and helpful. (You never know, have you seen the news lately?!).

Parco dell’Anconella 

This park is smaller than the Cascine, but is great because it has lots of water fountains and additional workout equipment. Located on the southwestern end of the city, Firenze Sud, it is a long, flat expanse of trails, so a little less intense than the pavement on the other two routes. This park is definitely less frequented than the Cascine, so it’s nice for long, solitary runs. Just be sure to be aware of your surroundings (I always have my keys in my hand…just in case).

Good to know:

  • If you want to do a longer (10 miles +) run, start out on the Piazzale loop and when you get to Piazza Ferrucci, go right instead of left to add Anconella.
  • Public water fountains are found inside the park.
  • To my knowledge there are no pay toilets on this route, at least not on the running trails. So go prepared.
  • The neighborhood to the South of the park, Gavinana, is a cool part of Florence that is rarely frequented by tourists. The Firenze Sud Sporting Club is a great place to get a pizza!

I do have a Garmin that I use to track routes, time, etc. when possible, but if not, I like to use MapMyRun to generate the maps I included in this post.

The running season is in full swing and events are happening all around Tuscany every weekend. Check out Lorenzo Berchielli‘s running club Associazione Rondinella del Torrino page for the calendar of running events, and feel free to be in touch with me if you plan to be in Florence for an extended period of time and want to join a team, or learn about how to get your certificato medico to participate in races like the upcoming Firenze Marathon.

 

 

Running in Florence: Corri la Vita, Sunday, September 24

Autumn in Florence brings many positive things to mind: sagre, olio nuovo, vendemmie, and for me, the Corri la Vita, the most important charity run in all of Italy, which takes place the third Sunday in September every year since it began in 2003. Proceeds from the race benefit LILT Firenze, which is the Florence branch of the Italian League for the Fight against Cancer.

I first ran the Corri la Vita in 2010 when I had just arrived in Florence as a student. I wanted to participate in something that would help me get to know some locals and feel like an active participant in my adopted city. It was actually the second race I had ever registered for (the former being the Charleston, SC Cooper River Bridge Run), and I remember being really nervous but also really excited. I wholeheartedly recommend to students in Florence that they participate in this exciting event!! And if you don’t plan on participating, don’t bother trying to move around the city. We’re all involved!

This year’s 11 km race begins and ends in Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Registration is open until September 22: for EUR 10 you receive an official Salvatore Ferragamo T-shirt and bib number; for EUR 15 you can receive a bib number with microchip to register your race time.

Last year the race hosted over 35,000 participants and raised EUR 550,000.

You can download the registration form here and bring it to any of the following registration points:

LILT Firenze Viale D. Giannotti, 23 – Firenze, tel. 055 576939
Firenze Marathon Viale Fanti, 2 – Firenze, tel. 055 5522957
L’Isolotto dello Sport Via dell’Argingrosso, 69 A/B – Firenze
Universo Sport Piazza Duomo, 6/r – Firenze

See you in the Piazza on the morning of the race!

 

Rientrata a Firenze and it feels …

After nearly moving to Madrid never to be seen in Florence again, I am indeed back and extremely happy to return to some semblance of normalcy and routine. We are, after all, creatures of habit (for better or worse) and while I can travel bohemian style with the best of them, a month is almost too long.

El tapeo se acabó

Summer is still going strong in Firenze. The weather is hot and the tourists are here in full force. The season won’t really end until mid-November, but for those of us that live here, the end of August is usually a very rude awakening. The Italians call it the sindrome del rientro and it is very real. I’m back to work at the University, while at the same time trying to study as much as possible (ahem, FOCUS) for when I choose my next adventure.

I spent some time at the Uva Nera yesterday — a super cute wine bar with reliable wifi — great for working remotely. Located on Borgo Ognissanti, it is situated just past the Polimoda fashion school, walking from school towards the center of town, so they receive a lot of student traffic. Since I was behind the bar when some students came in, we got to talking, and I was able to share some of my experience living in Florence with them. They were really disappointed to learn I was American and speak perfect English!

Both when speaking to Lisa May and in my experience working with students traveling abroad for the first time, many people wonder how to become integrated in their adopted community: how do I get the locals not to speak to me in English? How do you make friends? How do you get your barista to finally say hello?

Needless to say the conversation got me thinking about the advice I’ve given students over the years: CONSISTENCY IS KEY. I believe that if you just do what you love, wherever you are, you will naturally make friends without stressing yourself out about doing it the “right” way. I love running and having a cheap drink at aperitivo, so lo and behold no matter where in the world I go, I tend to meet runners and revelers! And if you find a trail, park, basketball court, museum, bookstore, cafe, whatever it is that you love, and a habit of dedicating some time consistently to that space or activity, you will undoubtedly notice that the locals become curious about you.

For me it’s back to work but for so many students it’s their first time here, so best of luck this semester or year abroad. Fearlessly refuse to speak English and you will leave Florence with an enhanced Italian vocabulary for sure.

How do you like to get the feel for a place? What’s the first thing you do when you go somewhere new?

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